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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Try Our Golden Crumpets

Try Our Golden Crumpets

1950s. Wellington, New Zealand. "Interior of Sunshine Milk Bar lined with booths, photographed by K.E. Niven & Co." Large-format acetate negative, K.E. Niven & Co. Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library. View full size.

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Re: This is so awesome.

If you're referring to the top surface of the tables and the trim around their edges, this is a product called Formica. Formica sheet was widely used in New Zealand in the 1950's and 1960's for table tops and bench tops. Invented in the USA in 1912 and pronounced for-MY-cah.

This is so awesome.

Flashback 60+ years ago. Note the trim-work molding. Do they make anything like this today?

Not what you think

Dave, please embiggen the French Maid boxes, I think they say Salted Nuts and Confections. Clearly not what "aenthal" above thinks they are.

[Andrea was making a joke. - Dave]

Lunchroom Selfie

Looks like the photographer and his view camera can be seen in the mirror at the end of the counter just under the light fixture that is hanging down.

Did no one notice him?

I'm surprised that no one called out the photographer - he and his camera are reflected in the mirror at the end, just above the SEL(F) SERVE sign!

An All-Pervasive Pall

Interesting to read the (somewhat astonished?) comments on the ubiquitous ashtrays. I grew up in the late '50s, early '60s in the US, and everybody smoked. In the house, in the car, at work, on picnics -- everywhere I can think of, except church. I never thought a thing about it. It was no different than the weather: an all-pervasive fact of life, so what. But then my dad died from cancer of the larynx.

I see you back there

Not often we get a chance to see the photographer and their camera. Dave, a closeup please from your high-res original?

Go Suck a --

ZUBE. There is a dispenser for these on the shelf to the right. I remember a similar product in Australia in the 1960s called Hudson's Eumenthol Jujubes. They even boasted they could clear "smoker's catarrh."


I guess the Alcove is where the young people went to make out.

Nasty ashtrays

I remember booths in cafes with those built in ashtrays, and having to breathe smoke while eating. I always took away a doggie bag, so I could eat the food without the side of burnt tobacco. Even though it was cold, it tasted better. Of course, I also had to time it for when my parents weren't smoking! I'm SO glad those days are over!

Not Exactly Like the Korova

The dispensers on the counter are far more G Rated than the ones Alex and his droogs visited in Clockwork Orange. But there is that box of French Maids on the shelf to make you wonder just how G Rated this place was.

When LSD was legal

Pounds (£), Shillings (s) and Pence (d) on the cash register, that is. New Zealand went to dollars and cents in 1967.

You would think

that milk bars, with their abundance of candy and soda, would be geared toward a younger clientele. But there are ashtrays at every table.

What a brand name!

Scorched Almonds.

But that is a different and nifty ceiling, I must say.

Milk and cigarettes

Each table has an ashtray. I can't imagine a combination more foul.

The till registers in pounds, shillings and pence. I wonder if those machines could be adapted to the new digital dollar or if they had to be scrapped.

SHORPY OLD PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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