Posted on

Advertising and symbolism


Since milling is both destructive and creative act a mythological symbolism of rebirth has developed around it. One of the most prominent aspects of this is the miraculous mill that grants the elderly youth again.

The theme of the mill grinding the old young again is particularly prominent in Germany with the ‘Altweibermühle’, meaning Old Women’s Mill, a frequent aspect of folk tradition. This folk tradition has been found as far back as the 16th Century. For instance both Bürgstadt and Reckendorf, which are market communities in Bavaria, have a developed tradition of carnival processions that include an Old Women’s Mill.

Alongside this there are records of a Shrove musical called The Woman Mills of Tripstrill written by G.A. Bredelin in around 1787. In this a group of men take their elderly wives to be ground young again. However once they are transformed into young women they want nothing to do with their husbands.

There is also a tradition of the same concept but for elderly men. For example the folk ballad The Miller’s Maid Grinding Old Men Young Again contains the lines:

‘Come old, deprived, lame or blind
Into my mill to take a grind’

Furthermore a woodcut dated to 1720 shows elderly men climbing into a mill. When they come out they are young again, and there is a crowd of women standing at the ready to claim the newly rejuvenated men. This postcard takes this same theme; however, it uses this well-known trope to show the transformation of recruits into Prussian soldiers.