Decauville Track

The last iron truck of the day started off on the Decauville Track that snaked down the mountainside to the crusher and separator. 

Dr No, Chapter 13

James Bond and Honey are sleeping as guests of Dr No inside their mink-lined prison on Crab Key. Outside, the workers of Dr No’s guanay colony are finishing up their day with one final load being sent down the Decauville track. 

Island guano workers sending off a cart to be processed.

Paul Decauville innovated a movable railway system consisting of ready-made sections of light, narrow gauge track fastened to steel railway ties; this track was portable and could be disassembled and transported very easily. For an operation such Dr No’s, moving the track that transported the guano from the mountainside quarry up to the crusher and separator was needed as the location of the digging changed occasionally. 

Having a hard rail was essential as much of the island was made up of soft swamp and marsh ground. This type of setup was fairly common in the Caribbean among the sugar plantations, distilleries and mining operations. 

An old Decauville track used for guano digging.

By the First World War, the Decauville system had become a military standard and the French and British eventually built thousands of miles of trench railways track.

Note: To get a great feel for these old railways across the Caribbean, I highly recommend checking out Railway Relics (and more) in the Caribbean.

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Guerlain Soap Products

There was everything in the bathroom–Floris Lime bath essence for men and Guerlain bathcubes for women. He crushed a cube into the water and at once the room smelled like an orchid house. The soap was Guerlain’s Sapoceti, Fleurs des Alpes.

Dr No, chapter 13

James Bond and Honey Rider are in the Mink-Lined Prison of Dr No, prior to their dinner date with the owner of the island of Crab Key. 

Founded in Paris in 1828, Guerlain House is a manufacturer of fragrance, skin care and make up. All products are made in France to this day.  There were also Floris products in the bathroom, as mentioned previously

Heinz pork and beans

There were the remains of a fireplace made of lumps of coral and a few scattered cooking pots and empty tins. They searched in the debris and Quarrel unearthed a couple of unopened tins of Heinz pork and beans.

Dr No – Chapter 10

After their arrival at the former camp of the Audubon Society wardens, James Bond, Quarrel and Honey Rider search around the camp. Among the items the unearth are what ends up being their dinner that night – a couple of tins of Heinz pork and beans.

Pork and beans had been a staple of the American diet since at least the middle of the 19th century. Commercially canned pork and beans were introduced in the United States during the 1880s. This became essentially the first convenience food. Consisting of rehydrated navy beans packed in tomato sauce with small chunks of Salt pork or rendered pork fat, the ingredients are cooked, canned and placed in large pressure cookers to ensure sterility.

Heinz baked beans were first sold in London in the Fortnum & Mason department store in 1901. Heinz opened several UK factories to produce the beans, and between 1941 and 1948, The Ministry of Food classified Heinz Baked Beans as an "essential food" as part of its wartime rationing system.

Heinz UK and Ireland's main food manufacturing facility is based in Kitt Green, near Wigan in the North West of England and turns out more than 1 billion cans every year. It is Europe's largest food factory.

Our threesome on Crab Key had to eat their pork and beans cold, cupped in their hands. They had "about two full handfuls each and a cricket ball of bread."

Leica With Flash Attachment

After arriving in Jamaica in Dr No, and settling into his hotel, James Bond goes with his friend Quarrel for dinner at the Joy Boat restaurant.

A glint of light caught the corner of Bond’s eye. He turned quickly. The Chinese girl from the airport was standing in the nearby shadows. Now she was dressed in a tight-fitting sheath of black satin slashed up one side almost to her hip. She had a Leica with a flash attachment in one hand. The other was in a leather case at her side. The hand came out holding a flashbulb. The girl slipped the base into her mouth to wet it and improve the contact and made to screw it into the reflector.

This photographer was previously using the Speed Graphic Press Camera but has switched up to a smaller, more mobile camera for the restaurant. She was likely using either a Leica III or M3, two of the most popular Leica cameras during the 1950’s, along with a flash attachment.

Leica M3 Camera

Leica III Camera

The flash attachment could’ve been one such as this:

Or perhaps another brand such as Minox.

In Goldfinger, Bond uses a Leica M3 when going to Auric Goldfinger’s suite to photograph Jill Masterton assisting her employer in cheating Mr Du Pont.

Bond took the elevator up to his suite. He went to his suitcase and extracted an M3 Leica, an MC exposure meter, a K2 filter and a flash-holder. He put a bulb in the holder and checked the camera. He went to his balcony, glanced at the sun to estimate where it would be at about three-thirty and went back into the sitting-room, leaving the door to the balcony open. He stood at the balcony door and aimed the exposure meter. The exposure was one-hundredth of a second. He set this on the Leica, put the shutter at f 11, and the distance at twelve feet. He clipped on a lens hood and took one picture to see that all was working. Then he wound on the film, slipped in the flash-holder and put the camera aside.

He then startles her with the flash when photographing the scene.

Speed Graphic Press Camera

In Dr No, As James Bond arrives at Palisadoes Airport, he is greeted by Quarrel, and they start to head out to the car.

They were moving towards the exit when there came the sharp crack and flash of a Press camera. A pretty Chinese girl in Jamaican dress was lowering her Speed Graphic. She came up to them. She said with synthetic charm, “Thank you, gentlemen. I am from the Daily Gleaner.” She glanced down at a list in her hand. “Mister Bond, isn’t it? And how long will you be with us, Mister Bond?”

The Graflex Speed Graphic camera is perhaps the quintessential press camera. It was in production for 60 years, and many of the most famous photographs of the 20th century were taken with it.

The company began in the late 19th century as Folmer and Schwing Manufacturing Company. It was acquired by George Eastman and became a division of Eastman Kodak until the company was forced divest itself of the division. It was spun back off into its own company, becoming Folmer Graflex Corporation and then in 1946, Graflex, Inc. The last Speed Graphic cameras were produced in 1973.

 

In their next encounter with this photographer, she is using a different camera.

 

Cooper’s Vintage Oxford marmalade

coopers

The second spread that James Bond keeps at his breakfast table for use on his thick whole wheat toast is Cooper’s Vintage Oxford marmalade. Like the Tiptree ‘Little Scarlet’ Strawberry jam, this was a well known, rather high-end product, that is still produced today.

Frank Cooper (1844-1927) inherited his father’s grocery store in 1867. It is said that in 1874, his 24-year-old wife, Sarah-Jane produced 76 lbs of marmalade from her own recipe. It proved so popular that the manufacture of it became the main family business. The company holds a Royal Warrant, providing goods to the royal family.

This is a dark, thick coarse cut marmalade using Seville oranges from Spain with a strong taste of the bitter oranges. It is said to be best when spread generously on thick toast, just as Bond does in From Russia With Love. The bitter orange taste with the coarse pieces of rind is said to be a perfect contrast to the sweetness of melted “deep yellow Jersey butter” on hot toast.

Coopers-Vintage-Oxford-Marmalade

Just another example of the impeccable product placement employed by Ian Fleming, using a well-known, high end product which would both humanize Bond and show him as a man of taste.

Cooper's Jam Factory.
Cooper’s Jam Factory.

Tiptree ‘Little Scarlet’ Strawberry Jam

From Russia With Love introduces us to James Bond’s home routine. This is where we first learn about his very particular breakfast habits when at home between assignments abroad.

He has his strong coffee, his boiled egg, and toast. On the toast is a “large pat of deep yellow Jersey butter” and one of three other toppings which he keeps at hand.

One of which is Tiptree ‘Little Scarlet’ Strawberry Jam.

Tiptree_Scarlet_Strawberry_Conserve

This unique product is made by the famous Wilkin & Sons Ltd in the town of Tiptree in Essex. The ‘Little Scarlet’ strawberries are grown on site, and made into the Conserve immediately, as they explain:

Little Scarlet is a very special strawberry, an anachronism (lovely word!) in today’s world. Today, strawberries are quite unlike the tiny, intensely flavoured fruit of two hundred years ago, whereas Little Scarlet strawberry never changed. Grown only at Tiptree, the fruit is difficult to grow, an unpredictable cropper that dislikes extremes of weather and won’t keep once picked. The upside is that Tiptree’s Little Scarlet conserve (James Bond’s preserve of choice) is made only from our own fresh fruit, within hours of it being picked.

Why do we persist in growing much of our own fruit, when there are usually cheaper imported varieties available? We think that the British climate (generally speaking of course!) means slower ripening fruit which imparts a better flavour. We also reckon that we prefer to do things ourselves anyway, it means we can grow the varieties we want, look after them as we choose and pick them when we think they’re at the peak of their perfection.

They go on to relate that the Little Scarlet jam is generally the most expensive jam they make.

This fits in well with Ian Fleming and his crafting of James Bond as a man who knows exactly what he likes, and will settle for nothing less. The other spreads are similarly fine products as well, as we will discuss soon.

Bath Essence (and other products) From Floris

On the flight from Los Angeles to New York in Diamonds Are Forever, James Bond realizes he is getting serious about Tiffany Case. He even starts making mental plans to move her into his flat in London, (initially at least, into the spare room) and thinks of some preparations that will be needed.

Let’s see – flowers, bath essence from Floris, air the sheets …

If only that was all that was needed to move a woman in.

It is interesting (to me anyway) that James Bond of all people, is thinking of bath essence at a time like this. Now, Floris is a world-famous London manufacturer and retailer of perfumes and fragrances which has been in business since 1730, so I have no doubt that Bond was aware of the company. It appears a couple other times in the Fleming novels as well.

In Dr. No, Bond and Honey Rider’s well-appointed quarters are furnished with, – among other luxuries – Floris Lime bath essence for men.

In Moonraker, we’re told that inside Blades, Floris provides the soaps and lotions in the lavatories and bedrooms.

Bath essence is fragrance which is added to a bath, which leaves the skin soft and slightly perfumed. It is rather expensive £55.00 (or almost $100) for the bottle below, making it another luxury product that Fleming inserted into the narrative.

stephanotis-ba-th

floris

Bond was no doubt familiar with the shop, as it is in the St. James area and close to Blades and other places he frequented. The Floris website tells us:

Fleming enjoyed spending much of his time in the St James area of London where he would do much of his shopping and socialising. Known for his impeccable taste for quality and luxury Ian Fleming was a regular visitor at Floris where he purchased various grooming items including his fragrance of choice, No.89, named after the number of the shop in Jermyn Street.

Fleming even wrote a letter of appreciation to the company.

floris

Chemex

In From Russia With Love, we’re given an extensive look at the life of James Bond when he is at home and between assignments. We’re told that when Bond is stationed in London, his breakfast is always the same.

It consisted of very strong coffee, from De Bry in New Oxford Street, brewed in an American Chemex, of which he drank two large cups, black and without sugar.

We then get the rest of the breakfast – items of which I’m sure we’ll discuss in a future post – followed by lament over his breakup with Tiffany Case.

De Bry was where Fleming himself got his coffee, but unfortunately the shop, which was a satellite location of a Paris-based chocolate maker and supplier of fine coffees* is no longer in business.

You can however, brew your coffee (Jamaican Blue Mountain, preferably) in a Chemex coffeemaker.

The official Chemex website tells you the history of this vessel, which was invented by a Doctor of Chemistry, who combined his knowledge of laboratory apparatus and the methods of filtration and extraction for the design.

In 1956 – the year in which Ian Fleming was writing From Russia With Love – the Chemex was selected by the Illinois Institute of Technology as one of the best-designed items of modern times. I can see Fleming finding this tidbit of information and making sure he included the product into the novel, to show how modern and savvy Bond was.

chemex

chemex-early-ads

chemex_color

 

*Information from Gary Giblin’s excellent James Bond’s London
Also see: Chemex, the coffee maker with a rabid hipster fan base, grows in Chicopee

Phensic (and Enos)

Back in his office on the morning after his night battling Sir Hugo Drax at the bridge table at Blades in Moonraker, James Bond is feeling the effects of his alcohol and benzedrine consumption of the night before. He then seeks relief.

His headache was still sitting over his right eye as if it had been nailed there. He opened one of the drawers of his desk and took out a bottle of Phensic. He considered asking his secretary for a glass of water, but he disliked being cossetted. With distaste he crunched two tablets between his teeth and swallowed down the harsh powder.

In Thunderball, after recovering from his 11 whiskies and soda from the night before, he also turns to Phensic.

Bond swallowed down two Phensics and reached for the Enos.

Apparently when James Bond has a headache, he turns to Phensic, a product that is a combination of aspirin and caffeine. Also mentioned in the second example is Enos – I’m assuming he’s referring to Eno – an effervescent heartburn/indigestion remedy consisting of sodium bicarbonate, citric acid and anhydrous sodium carbonate to neutralize stomach acid.

phensiceno-life-01-21-1952-101-M5