Friday, June 07, 2013

Syrup, treacle and memories

click photo to enlarge
Recently, when rummaging about in my garage, I came across two empty tins that for several years served as pen and pencil pots on the desk in my study. They had moved house with us and eventually fallen out of use after I divided up a drawer to make a more convenient way of keep my writing implements organised. They are, of course, no ordinary pen and pencil pots but the empty tins in which we had bought black treacle and golden syrup for baking. The sugar refining company of Abram Lyle who manufactured them have stuck with, essentially, the same design for the tins since they first produced them in 1885, even surviving the merger with Tate in 1921 when Tate & Lyle came into being. The wonderful, ornate designs using green, gold, black and white for the syrup and red, gold, black and white for the treacle, are thought to be Britain's oldest unchanged brands. Metric weights have replaced the imperial pounds and ounces and a bar code label now features on the back, but in most respects the tins are the same as they always were and exactly as I remember them from my childhood.

In fact, the design of these tins was first drawn to my attention by a primary school teacher who was telling us the story of Samson from the Old Testament of the Bible. To enliven the story and give it greater relevance to our lives she asked us to look at one of tins and find out what it had to do with the biblical tale. We discovered that the illustration of the dead lion with a swarm of bees around it and the quotation, "out of the strong came forth sweetness", were derived from a riddle that Samson told and which can be read in the Book of Judges, Chapter 14.

Seeing the tins glowing in the dim light of my garage I thought that they might photograph well so I set them up with a black background and strongly directional natural light amd took this shot.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 100mm macro
F No: f8
Shutter Speed: 1/4 sec
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation:  -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: Off