Detectorists Don’t Argue

5th January 2018 — 14 Comments

Sometimes detectorists may discover artefacts that revive dormant memories and remind them of past times. So it is with me. Nostalgia is also the bread and butter of the magazine Best of British, one that I have contributed to on several occasions. Detectorists’ finds are often a source of inspiration for my blog.

It was a recent find by a Canadian searcher that set the cogs in motion. ‘Beau’ (don’t know his real name) had found a match holder that looked like the one pictured below. Rather unusual don’t you think?

The Con Jones ‘Don’t Argue’ match holder

Con Jones was a flamboyant sportsman, tobacconist, and club and pool room operator in Vancouver from 1904 until 1929 … he was famous in Vancouver for his slogan ‘Don’t Argue’ which he started using in his regular newspaper advertisement in 1914. The ad read ‘Don’t Argue Con Jones Sell Fresh Tobacco.’ He eventually registered ‘Don’t Argue’ as a trademark. From the Museum of Vancouver

Con Jones produced an aluminium token of the two men arguing, to advertise his product and also to mark the Canadian Jubilee of Confederation.

Courtesy of the Museum of Vancouver

Con Jones

Con marketed his tobacco under the brand name of ‘Don’t Argue’, which must be one of the most unique business logos ever: a guy in a bowler hat confidently muffling another man in the face. The store motto was ‘Don’t Argue, Con Jones Sells Fresh Tobacco’, and it may have featured on the first neon sign in Vancouver. *There is strong evidence hinting that Jones surreptitiously ‘borrowed’ the slogan and imagery which was also used by Hutton’s Hams & Bacons in his native Australia.

You will find detailed notes on Con Jones by clicking on the Old School Lacrosse who also provided the above extract and picture below.

The ‘Don’t Argue’ sign for Con Jones’s billiard parlor/tobacco shop dominated 20 East Hastings, Vancouver

It was Con’s packeted tobacco that reminded me of my younger, more active days. Tobacco came in tins and I was familiar with the St. Bruno (and Three Nuns) Brand, supplied by a pipe-smoking uncle. As a colliery electrician I used them to keep screws, connectors and other bits and pieces. As a detectorist I used a tin like this for many years to keep my special  finds safe, snug in foam fabric layering the bottom. Happy detectorist days!

*The Strong Evidence

I mentioned above that Jones had ‘probably’ borrowed the phrase and imagery from Australia. Take a look at the advertising poster below and tell me what do you think. The jury is out … oh, they’re back. That didn’t take long. And what is your verdict?

Yes, the evidence hinting that Jones surreptitiously ‘borrowed’ the slogan and imagery used by Hutton’s Hams & Bacons in his native Australia, is rather strong and convincing.

c1920s Advertising poster “Don’t Argue HUTTON’S HAMS Are The Best. Pineapple Trade Mark Brand”. Printed by J.J.Miller Ptg. Co. Melbourne.

It looks as though the ‘Don’t Argue’ means of advertising was world -wide. Here’s one front England selling razor blades ( I think ). Copyright didn’t seem much of a problem in those days.


The catalyst for this blog post was a find shown by ‘beau’ on the Canadian forum (CMD) Thank you!



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14 responses to Detectorists Don’t Argue

  1. billfromlachine 5th January 2018 at 1:03 AM


    Nice write up. You did Beau proud.

    Regards + HH


    • You may not find artefacts like we do in the UK, but often what you discover is very interesting, full of social history and most suitable for my blog. There is very little I can say about a Roman coin …

  2. Thank you for the nice write up on one of us Canucks, John… And a very impressive ID work on the tin and the [possible] origin of the saying..

    We may not have the age and the history that you have across the pond; but what we lack in those areas we make up for in diversity and eclecticism


  3. John from Ontario (AKA Geobound) 5th January 2018 at 3:28 AM

    Interesting image?

    I think my niece applies makeup just like that…….in fact I see a lot of younger woman apply makeup the same way! LOL…..

    I was in my early teens when my dad started smoking a pipe, I very much enjoyed the smell so I bought and started smoking my own……what a total pratt I must have looked!

  4. Interesting post John, thanks for sharing it. I love the old photo of Vancouver. The tobacco tins brought back some memories of student days for me

  5. lovely read John my dads tin was old Holborn and I say GUILTY

  6. in the days before the Net, borrowing trademarks, slogans, and even merchandise was so much easier. As for tobacco, it was Player’s please.

    • A guy is lost in the desert. All he has is a packet of Players cigarettes. As he walks to safety he hears a voice saying “1, 2, 3, 4 ….”.

      He looks around but there’s no one there.
      This happens hundreds of times. And trust me, I could draw it out.

      Eventually he decides to have a smoke and try and figure out what’s going on, so opens his packet of Players, and what does it say? “It’s the tobacco that counts”.

  7. Nice write up John. And thanks for link to Con Jones in lacrosse. That’s what I love most about this hobby, is the history we learn from the day to day items that are found.

  8. Looks like he copied the image and slogan.. but used it in a different context.
    Anyway.. imitation is the highest form of flattery!
    I don’t think it was an intentional copy.. more a subliminal mistake.
    Interesting read John. Thanks.

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