The Tomato Book

Statistics are an essential part of an Archive collection, compiling details that are of use for Government in the short-term but also of interest to historians in the future. However, they run the risk of being dry and boring if looked at by someone with only a minor knowledge of the subject. Not so with this item that has become affectionately known by Archive staff as the ‘Tomato Book’.

Looking at the description of the book you would imagine a relatively dry tome. It is described on the Archives and Collections Online catalogue (ACO) as “Statistics for revenue collected through Imports, total number of imports, imports of spiritous liquors, imports of beer, imports of tobacco, imports of motor and aviation spirit, licensed motor vehicles, exports of potatoes, exports of tomatoes, passenger arrivals by boat and plane and resident population.”

It covers the immediate post-war period when Jersey was recovering from the spectre of the Occupation and forging themselves anew as a popular tourist destination with favourable tax rates to be enjoyed by visitors.

However, the wonderful thing about this book is that each statistic has been illustrated with an appropriate watercolour image by Roderick Averty, a long-time civil servant who used to work in the States Impôts Department. So, for the number of licensed motor vehicles there are drawings of little cars, the number of passenger arrivals by boat and plane there are the appropriate vehicles there and for the number of tomatoes we have the eponymous fruit. Each item is hand drawn and differs slightly from the one before. In addition in order for the detail to be fitted in the volume is extremely oversize.

In a world in which computers are now utilised to draw complex charts it is a reminder of temps passé when things had to be drawn by hand and people took great pride in their work.