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Gibbs Jewellers: The Best Proposal (1936)

Judging by the number of people I know who are currently being bankrupted by endless travels to exotic wedding venues and outsized spending on gift and bar bills, the summer months must mean ‘peak marriage’ for much of the British Isles. I can only imagine it’s down to the optimistic belief that getting hitched in July and August offers the best chance of a few sun-dappled snaps for the happy couple’s album.

Mind you, I’m typing this in the middle of July on a grey afternoon while listening to the rain dripping off the window sills, so there are no guarantees where an English summer is concerned. Try for all the golden cornfields and summery flower-headbands you like, the chances remain high that your nuptials will be celebrated by people huddled under a wet marquee in a windswept field somewhere miles from the nearest bus home.

Back in the thirties, if this advert for Gibbs Jewellers is anything to go by, the most important thing wasn’t the set of idealised photos lavishly splashed about on social media, but the quality of the ring. The haughty madam seen here in her finest Mae West frock has the airs of a prototype Nottingham Beyoncé, demanding that her beau gets down on one knee in his finest black tie getup and put a ring on it, with a trip to Gibbs.

Gibbs, founded in 1860, still trade (under the name Michael Levin) in their spot between The Bodega and the entrance to Cobden Chambers, which suggests there are still enough scenes like this being played out around town to ensure a steady turnover of customers. The frocks might be different these days, and suitors more likely to be on one knee for reasons of alcohol overload than etiquette, but Notts folk marking betrothals with a chunk of crystal on a gold band and a doomed attempt to catch a sunny day for the celebrations hasn’t given in to reality just yet.

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