The Woolworths Museum

1950s Fancy Goods, Jewellery and Artificial Flowers

In the 1950s the Fancy Goods Department at Woolworths offered a wide array of merchandise - including pictures and frames, Briar Pipes for smokers, artificial flowers and until 1954 even occasional gramophone records.  The range changed regularly and was very popular with customers, at a time when post-war austerity measures meant many of these items were very hard to find.


Briar pipes and smokers' requisites (in the foreground) were a popular part of Woolworth's diverse range of "Fancy Goods" in the 1950s


The range of artificial flowers - made from plastic, paper and silk, was a popular addition to the Woolworth range in the 1950s, as shown by this rare full colour photgraph

A rare colour photograph from the 1950s, shows off the new range of artificial flowers which was offered in every Woolworth store. Made of paper and silk, the flowers were great value for sixpence each. The bright colours and florist's shop style of display helped the counter to catch the customer's eye. It quickly became a major money-spinner.


Jewellery was a mainstay of the Woolworth's range in the Fifties. This is the display in Kingsbury, London, another of the blitzed stores reinstated to the Portsmouth design. Woolworths pioneered bakelite and later plastic materials to allow a broad-range of designs at economical prices.

F.W. Woolworth Buyers in the chain's Dublin Office spotted new ranges of Jewellery in the Eastern Block in the late 1940s. By the Fifties the range had spread to mainland Britain and proved an instant hit with shoppers. Just as they had scored a hit with bakelite products in the Thirties, a new generation of man-made materials had allowed them to offer a broad selection of fashionable pieces at rock-bottom prices.

One of our favourite pictures of Woolies in the Fifties - to look more modern a superstructure has been built on the leading end of the Fancy Goods counter to allow a bold display of the latest battery, mains-powered and wind-up clocks, which stretch over eight feet (2.5m) above the floor, almost all the way to the ceiling. They were visible from everywhere in the shop. It is said that the Store Manager's motto in Portsmouth was 'there's no time like the present, and no present like the time'


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Point and shoot picture


Store front


Sweets and ices




Toiletries and cosmetics


Pictures, artificial flowers and fancy goods


Christmas cards and decorations




Cards, stationery and books


Wool and haberdashery


Children's, Men's and Ladies' Fashions




China and Glassware




Kitchen and Homewares


Paint, DIY and Repair




Building the store


Grand staircase



Shortcuts to related content


1950s Gallery



Grand re-openings


H.M. Queen Elizabeth II's Coronation


The mobile shop


Interactive Fifties Store


Embassy Records cover story


Digital Jukebox


Advent of self-service


Commonwealth Openings


Zimbabwe Album


Caribbean Album


Fiftieth birthday celebrations


A warning from the USA


What's on TV?


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1940s Gallery


1960s Gallery


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