Spotlight: promotional hollow cast figures from Nestlé, Cadburys and Britains

22 June 2011
imports_CCGB_nestles-world-cow_57238.jpg Spotlight: promotional hollow cast figures from Nestlé, Cadburys and Britains
David Boxall takes a look at famous promotional hollow cast figures including the Cococubs and the Nestlé World Cow. ...
Spotlight: promotional hollow cast figures from Nestlé, Cadburys and Britains Images

Hollow cast figures are highly sought after at the best of times, and those from the 1950s and 1960s are no exception. In line with other collectables, those manufactured before the war are usually particularly hard to find and so are purchased at a premium. So too are many promotional items manufactured to encourage sales for all sorts of everyday consumables. With so much competition, every plausible tactic to increase sales was considered.

So, if we put all these elements together, if you collect hollow cast figures, manufactured in the mid to late 1930s, which were made to promote everyday consumables, you are bound to be collecting items which are very rare indeed.

The first of such figures for promotional purposes was issued as early as 1924, when the Sarson’s Lamb was helped to assist with sales for Sarson’s Vinegar. This was clearly the beginning of a trend.

Johnny Walker issued a figure, as seen on its familiar label, of a gentleman striding along in a red coat, white trousers and top hat.

Sharp’s Toffee released the rather dapper figure of Sir Kreemy Knutt, in a suit and bowler hat, pictured right.

Content continues after advertisements

The Lyon’s Corner House Tearooms released a ‘Nippy Waitress’ carrying a box of Nippy Chocolates as given away at the aforementioned establishment. The waitress was in blue with a white apron and was manufactured by Pixyland Kew.

One of the more unusual items made was a black and white cow with a map of the world shown as part of its black and white markings, the land masses shown in black (pictured top right). A brown and white version also exists but it is now very rare. The World Cow, as it was called by Nestlé, was a promotional gift for the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley in 1924. The cow was made by Britains, which was a re-tooled version of the Britains farm cow. The casting has ‘The Worlds Cow’ on one side and ‘Nestlés Milk’ on the other.

There were many more promotional ideas, but surely none can compare with the runaway success of the Cococubs (pictured below). Perhaps the most famous set of collectables, the Cococubs series brings together all the afore-mentioned elements and tells a little of the story behind the production of hollow cast figures. Two great names of British manufacturing came together to create these colourful characters: Cadburys, the chocolate maker, and William Britain Ltd, the toy manufacturer...

*This is an excerpt from 'From cows to Cococubs...' first published in Collectors Gazette's July issue. To see which issues of Collectors Gazette are available to buy online, click here