Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Ice Man Calls Once

Phryne Fisher's house in Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries may be a 1880s boom style Italianate mansion, but the kitchen is about as modern as you could get in 1928.

The interiors, "from bedroom to parlour and dining room to kitchen", were built in the ABC's Gordon St studios, says Essie Davis in the Miss Fisher and All That Jazz page of the ABC TV Blog.

Phryne's kitchen is large and light-filled, with hygienically-clean white walls, a scrubbed kitchen table and a Frigidaire refrigerator. 

The Frigidaire was ultra modern. The first ads for electric refrigerators appeared in the Argus in the early 1920s, but these large refrigerated cabinets were designed for cafes, hotels, stations and large country houses. It was only from about 1927 onwards that the Frigidaire was marketed to ordinary people living in the suburbs.

"This modern 'Ice Man' calls once ---- [~ but the Ice stays always]", ran this ad depicting a muscular young man with the Frigidaire logo on his American-style cap and a block of ice encasing a small refrigerator across his shoulder (Argus, 12 January 1927). The smaller illustration below of the Frigidaire itself shows a remarkably modern-looking refrigerator - a rectangular box with the motor hidden behind a grille at the bottom and the door open to display three or four shelves and two small ice-making compartments.

Phryne would have been one of the few who could afford a new Frigidaire at £92 10s. For the less well off there was the option of buying "Frigidaire equipment for converting any good ordinary ice-chest into an Electric Refrigerator" for £64. The average wage for a female clerk in Melbourne in 1930 was £145 13s 9d.

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