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Object: Flagon case

This image has Some Rights Reserved. Creative Commons BY-NC-ND Creative Commons BY-NC-ND copyright licence

Title Flagon case
Production Flight (manufacturer(s)), circa 1960, New Zealand
Materials plastic, plated metal, glass, cloth
Classification drinking vessels
Dimensions : 425 (Height) x 370 (Width) x 360 (Depth)
Overall: 298mm (Height)
Overall: 293mm (Height)
Overall: 94mm (Height)
Overall: 93mm (Height)
Overall: 91mm (Height)
Overall: 90mm (Height)
Overall: 120mm (Length) x 44mm (Width) x 10mm (Depth)
Credit line Gift of Mr Geoff Kelly, 2009
Registration number GH012214/1-8

This beer flagon case was a handy way to take beer home in the 1950s and 60s. It was also a handy way to take beer to picnics, race meets and rugby games. The case hid the contents from official eyes because until the early 1960s, the law prohibited the sale and public consumption of alcohol in connection with eating, dancing, or any sort of entertainment.

Alcohol could be sold and consumed publicly only in licensed places that provided accommodation - public hotels, or ‘pubs’ for short. The catch was that pubs closed at 6pm.

Six o’clock closing dominated men’s social life in New Zealand and became known as the ‘six o’clock swill’. After work on weekdays or rugby on Saturdays, patrons (mostly men) downed as much alcohol as they could before closing time. Beer was the favoured drink. To speed up the drinking process, beer was dispensed from plastic hoses connected to a tank in the cellar. Patrons could either drink at the bar or get jugs filled and retreat to standing tables for a slightly more leisurely intake.

Approaching closing time, they could buy wholesale beer. Beer needed to be stored and transported in a dark, cool place to prevent damage from light. This suitcase would have been ideal. But only brown glass could have preserved the contents once the case was opened. The clear glass bottles indicate that a quicker drink was on the owner’s mind.

Six o’clock closing lasted for 50 years until 1967, when the closing time was moved to 10 o’clock by public vote.

Related information

Disclaimer: This information was created from historic documentation, and may not necessarily reflect the best available knowledge about the item. Some collection images are created for identification purposes only and may not be of reproduction quality. Some images are not available due to copyright restrictions. If you have information or questions about objects in the collection, contact us using our enquiry form. You can also find out more about Collections Online.