World of Coins

Other tokens and medals => Advertising, propaganda and numismatic artefacts => Advertising pieces => Topic started by: malj1 on February 21, 2012, 12:55:27 PM

Title: Mellin's food
Post by: malj1 on February 21, 2012, 12:55:27 PM
Mellin's Infant Food was the creation of Gustav Mellin.  He was the owner of a pharmaceutical house in London and supposedly had copied the formula from Baron Justis Von Liebig, a famous Dutch Chemist. He began producing the formula in the1870s.
They are the size of a half-crown which they are said to imitate, the reverse reads... Mellin’s Food for infants & Invalids; below reads F Waller 18 Hatton Garden. EC. 32mm, silvered cardboard.
One description reads 'Advertising Paper Bottle Cap' this is feasible as they are very slightly cup-shaped and could have been inside the lid of a jar.

I have a Victoria young-head example dated 1878, Rogers 860 and an old-head example dated 1897, Rogers 861. A further example with the bust of Edward VII is known.
Title: Cardboard advertising 'coins'
Post by: Manzikert on March 05, 2014, 12:52:32 PM

Following on from the thread about the cardboard 1920 rupee I searched to see if the ones below had been posted before but came up with nothing.

They are both imitation British halfcrowns made from cardboard with one side covered in aluminium foil and embossed, the other with an advertisement for 'Mellin's Food', an infant and invalid food popular in the 1870's-1950's.

The ones I've seen so far are an 1878 young head and an 1897 veiled head. Both have the name F. Waller, 12 Hatton Garden, London EC on the reverse, but whether they were made by them or they were just the advertising agents I have no idea. The 1878 has the letters V • Bs impressed into the truncation, the 's' being superscript and reversed.

By the similarity of the reverses I assume they were part of the same advertising campaign post-1897, and were intended to be dropped in the street and picked up by hopeful passers by!

I'd be interested to hear of any other dates that people may have come across.

Best wishes

Title: Re: Cardboard advertising 'coins'
Post by: andyg on March 05, 2014, 08:21:12 PM
Could these be the old style tops of the bottles, pre foil ?

This picture is American, but hopefully you can see what I mean - (
Title: Re: Cardboard advertising 'coins'
Post by: THCoins on March 05, 2014, 08:24:15 PM
Very interesting pieces, which have retained lots of contrast in the pictures over time !
I have never seen these before, so can not tell you anything about these specific pieces.
What i can tell you is that aluminium foil was not generally available until about 1905. It was quite expensive until some years after the first worldwar. Pre-WW-I these would be considered very special items. Only in the 1920's its use became more widespread and also aluminium laminated cardboard came into use for food packaging. So i would rather estimate these to originate from between end 1920's to end 30's.

Title: Re: Cardboard advertising 'coins'
Post by: andyg on March 05, 2014, 09:33:07 PM
More from Malcolm (   :)
Title: Re: Mellin's food
Post by: malj1 on March 05, 2014, 10:38:36 PM
The advertising seen all dates to around the 1890's which seems to suggest they were probably first issued for the Diamond Jubilee of Victoria. The only other date known is a piece from 1902.

From the shape they appear to have been used inside the lid of a bottle as the edge is slightly cupped.

Title: Re: Mellin's food
Post by: Manzikert on March 06, 2014, 10:32:29 PM
Thank you very much Andy and Malcolm. I searched for 'Mellins food' and got nothing but if I'd put in the apostrophe I would have found Malcolm's original post ::)

I agree with Malcolm that these must have been 1880's-early 1900's as this was the period when Mellin's was most heavily advertised with postcards and other giveaways: I don't think they would have been afraid of spending advertising money on products using aluminium foil even if it were relatively expensive at this time: many of the other giveaways I have seen were obviously quite high quality, for instance there is an advertising card which is a high-quality chromolithograph with recess engraved detailing.

I will have to look out for the Edward VII version.

Title: Re: Mellin's food
Post by: malj1 on March 06, 2014, 11:01:20 PM
I have been seeking the scarce Edward VII type for many years; Rogers didn't have one.

As the company is said to have started in the 1870's I speculate that the 1878 piece could show the foundation date and was probably also issued in the 1890's.

Another aluminium piece issued for the Diamond Jubilee is the shell-card shown at Epps's Cocoa Grateful-Comforting (

See also The British Aluminium Co Ltd ( for some other interesting aluminium pieces.
Title: Re: Mellin's food
Post by: Manzikert on March 07, 2014, 01:04:25 PM
Hi Malcolm

According to the Science Museum Mellin invented the food in 1866, and it was certainly being exported to the USA in the early 1870's, so I doubt that 1878 is a foundation date, though it might be the date the firm became a limited company I suppose.

Title: Re: Mellin's food
Post by: malj1 on March 07, 2014, 10:17:43 PM
That sounds feasible, they would have  had some reason for choosing that particular date from Victoria's half crowns.