#54 - Centenary of the Universal Postal Union (1874 - 1974) commemorative stamps issued on the 12th June 1974.
They set was designed by illustrator Rosalind Dease. Each stamp celebrates a different service; 3 1/2p - P&O packet steamer Peninsular 1888, 5 1/2p - First official airmail Coronation 1911 (Farman H.F III biplane), 8p - Airmail blue van and postbox 1930, 10p - Imperial Airways flyingboat (Short S.21 Flying Boat Maia) 1937.
The simplicity of the silhouette style illustrations on the white backgrounds is refreshing and creates a fresh, clean look. I also like how the miniature postmarks add a flash of contrasting colour to brighten up the designs.
For more great stamp designs and other gorgeous items of ephemera take time to sift through the rest of our reference box
#53 - British Post Office Technology Stamps, 1969.
I love this set of stamps designed by legendary stamp designer, David Gentleman. They were issued in October 1969 to celebrate Post Office Technologies; the National Grid, Telecommunications - International Subscriber Dialing, Telecommunications - Pulse Code Modulation and Postal Mechanisation - Automatic Sorting.
David Gentleman has created over 100 British stamp designs over the last 40 years. This bold and bright set demonstrates a classic 'Gentleman' technique - when designing individual stamps he considers the effect of the overall sheet of stamps. If you look at the designs above, each has an element that bleeds off so when multiples of the same stamp are placed together (ie. on a sheet) the pattern is continuous. Simple, but effective!
If you like these I'm pretty sure you'll like these Jerzy Karo
and Peter Murdoch
designed stamps too.
#52 - Centenary of Royal Institute of Chemistry stamps, 1977
celebrating British Achievement in Chemistry.
Designed by Jerzy Karo, each stamp commemorates a different Nobel prize winning achievement from the last 100 years; Steroids
- Conformational Analysis (8 1/2p), Vitamin C
- synthesis (10p), Starch
- Chromatography (11p) and Salt
- Crystallography (13p).
I love the Steroids one with the overprinting and really bright colours - it's a great stamp.
#51 - National Trust Paper Bag
. I found this little bag in a stack of ephemera I bought at a boot sale. It had travel information inside from the late 70's, so I imagine it's also from around that time. I love it purely for the acorn graphic!
#50 - British Technology Stamps, September 1966
depicting the Jodrell Bank Radio Telescope, British Motor Cars, the SR N6 Hovercraft and Nuclear power (Windscale reactor).
When I first saw this set of stamps I really loved the top two because of how graphic and simple they are, but was confused why the bottom two seemed to be in a totally different style. These days a set of stamps is normally designed by the same people or company, but it seems in the 60's at least, it was common practice for two designers/illustrators to work on two stamps each. In this case, D Gillepie created the 4d and 6d (top two) and J Andrew Restall designed the 1/3 and 1/6 (bottom two).
I find it funny that no attempt was made to keep consistency through the set - the Gillespie ones have no description and have quite large Queen's heads in white compared to Restall's ones, which do have a description and have smaller Queen's heads in black. Even the typefaces they've used are different.
For more stamps, ephemera and random bits of inspiration, take a delve into our reference box
#49 - Energy stamps, 1978.
These stamps were issued on 25 January 1978 to highlight the importance of Energy in modern life, "our industrial strength and high standard of living depend on it's certain supply"
, to encourage, "greater efforts in the efficient use of energy and the elimination of wasteful practices"
to preserve the resources we have and give, "scientists and technologists time to develop alternative and acceptable energy supplies"
The set of stamps and the First Day Cover (above) were designed by the great British designer, Peter Murdoch
FSIAD - known Internationally for his wonderful cardboard furniture designs, his role as Special Projects Director for the 1968 Mexico Olympics
(which included designing the collapsible, cardboard display systems, souvenirs and the newspaper kiosks) and for his many collaborations with fellow designer, Lance Wyman
(Camino Real Hotel logo /signage and The Red Lion Disco logo in Mexico, Creative Parks Playground in Boston).Our full collection of reference box items can be rummaged through here
#48 - Sunlight Soap Packaging.
This Sunlight Soap packaging has unfortunately been opened out and the ends of the box are missing which is a shame. But the pic below shows how the complete pack should look...
When I bought it I estimated it was probably from the 50’s, however after a bit of research it seems it is much older. According to the Unilever timeline
they introduced ‘Sunlight Flakes’
in 1899 and then changed their name to ‘LUX Flakes’
in 1900. This box advertises the ‘NEW Sunlight Flakes’
(in the yellow sash) and therefore must be from 1899!
Sunlight Soap was originally produced in 1884 by Lever Brothers, UK. It was designed for general household use and in particular washing clothes, making it “one of the first examples of a cleaning product being produced as a consumer commodity”
, says Wikipedia
. It was also one of the earliest internationally-marketed branded products!
These days Sunlight Soap has been replaced by man-made detergents in the laundry business, but it’s still available as a hand-wash soap in some European countries and is still a leading brand of dish-washing soap in Canada!Complete package images from Advertising Antiques.
#47 - a Swiss letterhead from the 60's
. I'm terrible at languages but I think the letter is in German and I'm pretty sure the 'V+S' is a tourist board logo. However I could be totally wrong, so if you have any info please get in touch.
I found it nestled amongst some bits of ephemera I bought a few weeks ago and really loved the logo, it's such a funny choice of typeface for such an official looking letter, but I think it's great. I especially like how the '+' has been reversed out of the 'V' to create the national flag - simple but effective!
If vintage design and ephemera do it for you, check out what else is in our reference box here
#46 - Commemorative 'British Textiles' stamps
celebrating great British textile designers, designed by Peter Hatch and released in July 1982.
The set of four stamps showcase prints from (left to right); William Morris - 'Strawberry Thief', Steiner & Co. - 'Untitled', Paul Nash - 'Cherry Orchard' and Andrew Foster - 'Chevron'.
Check out more reference box goodies here
#45 - Vintage photographic studio cards.
Photographic studios in the late 19th and early 20th century would hand these out as a kind of business card to advertise their work and show clients their proofs.
They're a thick board with rounded corners and often have gold, printed edges. Intricately designed studio details are printed on the reverse and a photographic image (usually a very serious portrait) is glued to the front - a contrast I just love. Some cards also had foil blocking and debossing on the fronts to embellish the studio name.
If you like these, check out our other reference box items here
#44 - British Gas 'Mr Therm' playing cards
Mr Therm was designed in 1932 by Eric Fraser, I'm not sure what year these cards are from though. They say, 'Mr.Therm greets you warmly'
and he does - I love the little glowing smiley face. A bargain for 50p!
Have a look at other reference box items here
#43 in the reference box
is the 22nd Feb,1962 issue of 'The Aeroplane and Astronaughtics'
- a publication which started in 1911 and survived until 1968 when it was merged with it's long time rival 'Flight International'.
I bought this purely for the cover, the rest of the publication is black & white and very editorial with a simple grid layout. The cover though is really great, I love it - the big bands of colour, the negative space creating the large wing/fuselage shape and the colourful graphics showing the different plane models. It's a very modern, clean design and totally different to the other issues that were also for sale, but unfortunately there is no mention of who designed or art directed it.
So there we have it #43 - the cover of 'The Aeroplane and Astronaughtics'
, 22nd Feb, 1962. Have a look at No's 1-42 here
#42 - Czech matchbook covers
I think they're celebrating something on the 1st May - Karviná II? or is that the brand name?? who knows. What I love about them is how wonderfully Constructivist they look. The 2 colours and the bold graphics of machinery and tools are fantastic.
Does anyone know if there are more in this set?
I found these at the weekend at a flea market for a £1 - a deck of CP Air (Canadian Pacific Airlines) Playing Cards
for inflight entertainment. I love the corporate orange and how simple they are - very minimalist.So, #41 - Deck of CP Air Playing Cards.
For more reference box goodies have a look here
Pretty new to the reference box is this 1973 guide to the Jungfrau railway in Interlaken, Switzerland
. As you would expect from a piece of Swiss design of this era, it's packed full of wonderful logos, typography and adverts.
This centre spread map has the only colour print throughout and just look how slick their chosen palate works with the black & white graphics and illustrations.
Here are a selection of my favourites...
to see what other delights are hiding in our reference box.