Focus Questions

What does this object make you think of?  Does it remind you of something you have seen before?

Which part of the object do you notice most?   Describe that part.

Why do you think this object is so beautifully decorated?

Have you noticed...The stickers on the two loaves of bread on the floor? Click to reveal answer

On the left is a loaf of bread and on the right is some Challah bread. The sticker on the bread is the Trade Union sticker and it tells customers that the people who made this bread were treated and paid fairly.

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Bakers' Banner

Bakers' Banner

Bakers' Banner

This banner was made in 1925 by the London Jewish Bakers Union.  This Union was set up to fight for better working conditions for Jewish bakers.

Bakers' Banner
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The Object

Object name: Bakers' Banner
Date: 1925
Catalogue number: 1984.126
Material(s): Silk, paint, wool, wood
Size: Height is 233cm Width is 208cm
On display in the Jewish Museum? Yes

  • This object was made to remind shoppers to only buy bread with the union label on it as this guaranteed that it was baked under acceptable working conditions.  The banner is full of inspiring imagery and slogans.
  • Look closely at the object for references to the baking trade.  There are wheat bales on either side of the banner, there is the baker himself, the bread paddle the baker is holding, the oven behind the two men, the bread of the floor and the words baker and bread have been used.  This makes the message the Union was trying to make very clear to shoppers.
  • Look closely at the Trade Union Sticker and at the words below it “Buy bread with the Union label”.  You may be able to see an image coming through from the other side.  The symbols you can see on the other side are in the Yiddish language.  This banner was designed to be seen from both the front and the reverse.  
  • On the front the text is in English but on the reverse there is only Yiddish.  Yiddish is a language that most Jewish immigrants knew.   Many Jewish immigrants couldn’t speak or read English when they arrived in London so the banner had to have a language that all its shoppers could understand.
photo showing the reverse of the bakers' banner

The reverse side of the Bakers' Banner


The Story

The Union
The London Jewish Bakers Union began in 1905 and was the longest lived Jewish trade union, it closed in 1970.  The Trade Union was unhappy about how the bakers were treated by their employers, often working too many hours for very little money and usually in dangerous conditions.  Some bakers worked for 27 hours in one stretch.  The bakers were mostly immigrants and were very poor.  200 members joined the London Bakers' Trade Union and nearly all of them lived or worked in Stepney. 

The History
The idea of buying food that has been made by people treated fairly is still around to day.  You will probably have seen fair-trade stickers on food in the supermarket, particularly on bananas.  The idea is the same, the sticker tells us that the people who farmed this food were treated fairly and paid fairly and were working in a safe environment.

Digital Takeaway

Download this PDF to help you bake your own Challah bread.