Finnish Parliament’s valise
Invited by G. A. Serlachius Ltd., the Finnish Parliament and Government arrived in Mänttä for a visit on 4th of September in 1937. As a memento of their visit, the guests received each a cardboard valise containing products of the Serlachius combine. The item stored in the object collection of the Serlachius Museums was given as a gift to Parliamentary Secretary Eero H. I. Tammio.
For the G. A. Serlachius Company, Finnish Parliament’s visit to Mänttä in September was a noteworthy occasion that had been planned carefully down to every detail. The CEO Gösta Serlachius had been travelling around Europe during the late summer that year but had controlled the preparations by exchanging letters. The menu of the dinner and the layout of the invitation, among other things, were discussed by mail.
The day of the visit started with a breakfast with coffee, followed by Gösta Serlachius’ speech and a visit to an exhibition showcasing the products of the Serlachius Combine. Next in the programme was a bus tour around Mänttä. The sights of tour consisted of the sports cabin Vuoren maja, the church and Joenniemi Manor. The residential areas of Vuohijoki and Rusinniemi were visited to demonstrate the local housing conditions of the workers. The distance from the professional school to Mänttä Club where the guests enjoyed their lunch was travelled on foot. Early programme before noon had a tight schedule. Its smooth operation has been tested by the director’s test drive on buses and private cars. Chief of staff Mr Diesen reported to Mr Serlachius, then currently in Stockholm, that as a preparatory measure prior to the day of the visit, only a few soft spots on road and one too narrow a gateway had needed some mending.
After the luncheon, the distinguished guests had an opportunity to make a tour in the mill and in the office or an excursion to Huhkojärvi and Riihijärvi estates. The programme of the Finish Parliament and Government was concluded with a dinner held at Mänttä Club. After the dinner the guests received the product examples in a valise made of cardboard. Tako Oy had been requested to plan how to compile a package of products for the Serlachius combine. The intendant Arno Jaatinen writes in a letter: ” We suggest a valise-shaped package made of corrugated fibreboard with a veneer handle. All product labels of the company will be adhered on the box, the same way that hotel labels are adhered on the leather trunk while travelling abroad. The package travels nicely and has permanent promotional value since most recipients will examine the texts and, in any case, will preserve the handle box.”
A sample of the gift box with a handle was compiled in Kangas mill in Jyväskylä. It contained pergament, drawer liner paper, pergamyn, The Best Hygienic toilet paper, a kitchen roll, a Mustakäsi (Black Hand) soap, archival paper, washcloths, stationery paper, napkins and brochures. In addition, it contained roll holders for a pergamyn paper, toilet paper and tissue paper roll as well as a rubber underlay for the soap. The product labels were adhered in Mänttä and some photographs were taken of the box and send to France to obtain the approval of Gösta Serlachius. Mr Serlachius gave his blessing for the content and the layout of gift box with a handle, which his son R. Erik Serlachius had called a corruption case. Tako Oy delivered 250 fibreboard cases, with veneer handles that could be locked with a metal lever.
A humoristic speech was carefully prepared for the presentation ceremony of the gift boxes. Gösta Serlachius urged the Chief of Staff Andreas Diesen to find as many jokes as he could on the themes related to Parliament, Government and the content of the box. In Gösta Serlachius’ view, a suitable assistant for this purpose was bank manager Toivo Aro, whom Serlachius had in Mänttä once heard give a successful humoristic speech – the gift box should be presented to Aro as a source of inspiration. Ideas about the themes could also be consulted with Minister of Defence Oksala or Väinö Karikoski. Serlachius assigned Joachim Kurtén, Head of Forestry, and Gunnar Kauste, Head of Agriculture, as speakers. This way the departments of agriculture and forestry were given, in comparison to other departments, an equally significant exposure during the closing event.
The valises handed out during the Parliament’s visit can be identified by the text printed on the box ” Mäntän vierailu (Visit in Mänttä) 4-9-1937”. The Serlachius Company used similar valises as business gifts for decades. The size of the box changed at some point and the appearance was updated according to the selection and the receiver of the gift. The idea of the product box as a gift has been kept alive through time and reorganisations of the company until early 21st century.