Blog: Ephemera

Vintage Luggage Labels

I love these vintage luggage labels from rosiesnumberoneboy's Flickr set, especially the BOAC one - such lovely designed items, "from the great days of travel"!

Images copyright rosiesnumberoneboy.

Tue 20 Apr 2010

Posted under: Design , Ephemera , Inspiration


From the reference box #72

#72 - Danish Industry or 'Dansk Industri' Stamps from 1968. From what I have discovered, they were designed by R. Nellemann and engraved by Polish born, Czeslaw Slania - apparently the world's most famous engraver!

"Engraving is an art process where lines, dots and dashes are cut into a soft metal plate with a tool called a burin. The engraving is done life size and in mirror reverse. Up to 10 lines per millimeter are cut at depths varying from 0.01 to 0.08 mm to give the effects of shadows, highlights and contours. Because engraving requires long years of study and an extended apprenticeship, it is used for high security documents such as postage stamps and banknotes."

You can actually see the dots and lines if you look closely at the stamps. I love the contrast between the graphics on the stamps (above) which are very simplistic and minimal next to the illustrations on the First Day Covers which are very sketchy and detailed...

The quote above is taken from Collecting the works of Czeslaw Slania a site dedicated to Slania's work. Check it out for more information about his career or about engraving.

Mon 19 Apr 2010

Posted under: Design , Ephemera , Reference box , stamps


Be Kind To Books!

This gorgeous set of 5 Modernist posters were designed by Arlington Gregg circa 1936-40 as part of the WPA Illinois Art Project - Be Kind To Books.

The Works Projects Administration (WPA), previously called the Works Progress Administration were, according to the wisdom that is Wikipedia, "the largest New Deal agency, employing millions to carry out public works projects, including the construction of public buildings and roads, and operated large arts, drama, media, and literacy projects. It fed children and redistributed food, clothing, and housing. Almost every community in the United States had a park, bridge or school constructed by the agency, which especially benefited rural and Western populations."

These posters and many more including one of Milton Glaser's iconic 'Dylan' posters and a 1970's Eric Strenger Porsche poster, are due to be auctioned off at New York's, Swann Galleries Auction, May 3rd 2010 (Sale 2213, Modernist Posters). I could spend a serious amount of money at this auction, so it's probably a good job I'm on the other side of the pond!

All images copyright Swann Galleries.

Fri 02 Apr 2010

Posted under: Design , Ephemera , Things to buy


From the reference box #70

#70 - Commemorative, sailing themed stamps from the UK designed by Andrew Restall MISA and released on June 11 1975

These bold, colourful stamps illustrate Sailing Dinghies (7p), Racing Keel Boats (8p), Cruising Yachts (10p) and Multihulls (12p).

Below is the First Day Cover that my set came on...

See more Andrew Restall designed stamps from the reference box here, here and here.

Vintage Art Supplies

This great selection of 60's crayon + paint packaging is from the amazing collection of vintage packaging, ephemera and ads etc... in Christian Montone's Flickr photostream - seriously, I've spent ages looking through his sets and still not seen it all.

I actually have some of these myself. I'll have to dig them out of the reference box and post them up. meanwhile enjoy these...

Images copyright Christian Montone.

Mr Therm - the little gas man!

Remember our post about our vintage, Mr Therm playing cards (above)?

Well, I was recently asked by Mikey Ashworth if I would add it to his Mr Therm - the little gas man! Flickr pool which has a great selection of Mr Therm merchandise and promotional items (like the matchbooks and fridge badge below) as well as a bit of history behind the campaign.

It's not a large group, but it's definitely worth a look.

Fridge badge image copyright I like.
Matchbook image copyright Dan Chamberlain.

Mon 22 Mar 2010

Posted under: Design , Ephemera

1 Comment

From the reference box #69

#69 - Dewhurst Butchers leaflet - 'Make a meal of our price cuts'. I picked up this leaflet at a boot sale for free along with loads of other ephemera that a stall holder was left with at the end of the day!

I love the bright yellow front and how it contrasts with the big red chunk of meat. It's a very functional design - there's loads of information and offers thrown in there but it's easy to read. It's not an amazing design by a long way, but it works, it's interesting and it definitely has a certain charm - I think that's why I like it.

I'm guessing, looking at the prices, that it's from the early 80's when high street butchers were still common and the competition was strong. I don't know why, but I do find it funny that butchers used to put out leaflets.

Dig deep into the reference box here, for more interesting ephemera and vintage design.

Fri 19 Mar 2010

Posted under: Design , Ephemera , Reference box


From the reference box # 68

#68 - set of 4 stamps celebrating 50 years of the BBC (1922 - 1972).

Designed by David Gentleman and released on 13 September 1972, these stamps have great illustrations of equipment significant in the history of broadcasting; 3p - Microphones, 5p - Horn Loudspeaker, 7 1/2p - TV Camera and 9p - Oscillator and spark transmitter (Marconi/Kemp experiments 1897).

Here are the first day covers for each stamp, which are also pretty cool...

See more David Gentleman designed stamps from the reference box here.

More Saul Bass Matchbooks

It was a while back when I posted about a lucky blogger finding some of these wonderful Hunt-Wesson matchbooks, designed by Saul Bass on a flea market. Well I still haven't found any at my local boot sale, but design:related member Karen Horton has just found almost a full set (14 of the 16 and lots of doubles)...

"while rummaging the Chelsea Flea Market with no particular agenda, I had a hunch I recognized a few Saul Bass designs peering out of a randomly assorted box. What made the Saul Bass designs stand out instantly is that they were the only matchbook covers in a pile of hundreds sans advertising-related text or graphics."

Nice one Karen, that's a great collection - I'm not jealous in the slightest (well maybe a little!)

Via Notcot.

Mac Fisheries

If you remember our post about Hans Schleger then you will hopefully recall his wonderful work for Mac Fisheries. During the mid 50's he created most of the marketing and promotional items for the company.

The photomontage style he used for their poster campaigns still looks really fresh and I love how the logo is incorporated into the lobster and salmon posters.

I had no idea though just how huge Mac Fisheries were and that they not only sold fish, but also poultry, frozen and tinned foods. There's a great website all about the company which includes a 'paraphernalia' section with loads of Schleger designed items including these great poultry posters...

food packaging...

and weirdly, some round playing cards?!...

The site was compiled and is run by Colin French. It's a great resource and well worth a look. Thanks Colin for sharing all this information!

Images copyright Mac Fisheries.
Via the great Quad Royal.

Fri 12 Mar 2010

Posted under: Design , Ephemera , Inspiration


Dutch Architecture Stamps

I saw this set of Dutch Architecture stamps on Design Related the other day and they reminded me of the Modern University Building set (1971) I posted about last week.

This set was released in 1969 and designed by Rein (R.J.) Draijer to celebrate 20th Century Dutch Architecture and Architects. They depict:

12 - Villa Huis Ter Heide Building, Utrecht - R. van 'T Hoff, 1915

15 - Woonhuis (Rietveld Schroëder House), Utrecht - G. Rietveld, 1924

20 - Eerste Openluchtschool (Open Air School), Amsterdam - J. Duiker, 1930

25 - Burgerweeshuis (Amsterdam Orphanage), Amsterdam - Aldo van Eyck, 1960

45 - The Congresgebouw's Building, Gravenhage (The Hague) - J. J. P. Oud, 1969

The stamps themselves are beautifully designed but look even better on the First Day cover postcards. The bold illustrations and blocks of colour really stand out against the black and white photographs of the actual buildings.

Stamp images copyright Design Related. First Day cover images copyright Frans van Vorstenbos.
Via Vintage Postage Stamps.

Tue 02 Mar 2010

Posted under: Design , Ephemera , Illustration


From the reference box # 67

#67 - His Master's Voice Gramophone record. This is a late 30's/early 40's recording of Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet (part 3 &4) composed and conducted by Serge Koussevitzky and played by theThe Boston Symphony Orchestra which first premiered in 1938.

I didn't know much about gramophone records at all, but thanks to Earl Okin's informative site, I've discovered that the red label on this record gives an indication of the quality of the record and the artist. The best artists/most expensive records of the time had red labels, the next level down had black labels and the cheapest records had brown or plum labels. You can also see that, 'The Grampaphone Co Ltd.' (the original name before they bought the rights to the iconic Nipper and 'His Master's Voice' trademark) was still printed at the bottom of the labels along with the recording angel trademark, which was still used and preferred in some countries as the main graphic.

I bought this record for one reason only and that is the quality of the print. It's only 2 colour, but has such a gorgeous feel. You can see the indentation left from the press, the colour is really vibrant and there's a bit of overprint in areas - everything I love about real print. The logos and graphics look really good in two colour against the natural colour stock too. I especially like the '£' and record graphics.

See more from the reference box here.

Mon 01 Mar 2010

Posted under: Design , Ephemera , Reference box

1 Comment

The Ephemera Society Baazar

It's that time of year again - The Ephemera Society Baazar is this Sunday!

Park Inn
92 Southampton Row

Admission is £2.
Open 11 - 4 (members can enter at 10am - so remember to take your cards)

I'm gutted I can't go this time, but let me know if you get any bargains!

Fri 26 Feb 2010

Posted under: Ephemera , Things to buy


From the reference box # 66

#66 - Modern University Building UK stamps, September 1971. A really striking set of stamps designed by Nicholas Jenkins.

They each utilise large blocks of colour and simple, geometric illustrations to showcase four amazing 'modern' university buildings:

3p - Physical Sciences Building, Aberystwyth University College
5p - Faraday Building, University of Southampton
7 1/2p - Engineering Department, University of Leicester
9p - Hexagon Restaurant, University of Essex

Mine came on this lovely First Day Cover from Middlesex with the stamps images also printed on the envelope...

See more First Day Covers and wonderfully designed stamps in our reference box here.

Mon 22 Feb 2010

Posted under: Design , Ephemera , Reference box , stamps


Vintage Firework Packaging

I'd never realised how fantastic firework packaging was until I found the Firework Heritage Museum - a wonderful site by Steve Johnson devoted to 60's, 70's and 80's fireworks, "Original Pains, Brocks, Astra, Rainbow, Standard, Wilders, and Wells Fireworks, Labels and Boxes".

It's not just the bold, bright and somewhat lo-fi graphics that are great either - some of the names are brilliant...

Images copyright Steve Johnson / Firework Heritage Museum.


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