My father, A I Michie, worked at Nycanders from about 1928 to 1954, starting as an assistant industrial chemist and rising to factory manager. He continued to work in Sydney for Mauri Bros until he was in charge of all the vinegar and yeast factories in Australia. He worked there until he retired.
A I Michie in the 30s in the Nycanders laboratory. Courtesy family of A I Michie, Kingston Collection.
He explained that the Skipping Girl was Nycander's idea. Nycander was a Swede, in Sweden the cruel, cold winters keep children indoors for months, until in Spring there is a day that is warm enough for the children to go out and play. The first "Skipping Girl" of the year is a sign that Winter is over and Spring has arrived. So just as the English wait for the first cuckoo, the Swedes wait for the first skipping girl.
At a time when brands were promoted by logos, like Aeroplane Jelly and Submarine Candles, Nycander chose "Skipping Girl" from his Swedish heritage as a trading logo. Notice that the dress that she wears is a
Swedish traditional design.
The Skipping Girl was not the first animated neon sign in Melbourne. Kraft had a sign with a ‘K’ composed of three letters K, of three sizes, that were illuminated in turn. As kids we knew it as ‘Panting K’. My father said it predated the Skipping Girl.
The Skipping Girl logo predated the neon sign by many years. The neon sign maker would have had the existing product label to work to. The various 'models’ are a puzzle to me.
Yarra River in flood at Richmond, the site of the Nycanders factory and later the Skipping Girl. Courtesy A I Michie family, Kingston Collection.
I saw promotional material that used to be given away at the Melbourne Show, in the days when trade samples were given away, not sold. It consisted of a cardboard house with a 1/2 bottle of vinegar sticking
out as the chimney. There were also blotting paper (printed with promotional material) and wooden foot rulers with promotional printing. All bore the skipping girl logo. The skipping girl must be registered somewhere as a trade mark.
Neville A. Michie
- This article is a ‘postscript’ to Smith, Damian, The Skipping Girl in Kingston, Kingston Historical Website.
Category: Did You Know?
Reference Number: 533
Date Created: 12/08/2012