Properly Designed Posters Please

Today, a wallow in some lovely designs for no good reason at all

I’ve been meaning to write about the Post Office’s ‘Properly Packed Parcels Please’ series for ages, ever since finding them praised in Design Magazine.

Properly Packed Parcels Please vintage GPO poster woman out of hat

There’s a whole series of these posters (they seem to stretch from 1962 until the early 70s), and what I like about them is that they’re still trying to do great modern poster design at a time when most other institutions have more or less given up.

Perhaps the most arresting are this psychedelic series from about 1967-8.

Properly Packed Parcels Please Tom Bund poster 1967

Paul Rennie has the first one down as being by Negus Sharland; ours (hence the rather grim photos, apologies as usual) are signed either Tom Bund or Bund/Negus and Negus, so go figure.

Properly Packed Parcels Please tom bund 1968

Unfortunately I don’t know enough about the organisation of British advertising and design in the 1960s to be able to shed much light on this.  However, a bit of light Googling has told me that Tom Bund is alive and working, so I’ve dropped him a line and perhaps he can help.

There were also some more cartooony designs by Andre Amstutz and Harry Stevens in 1965 and 1963 respectively (from the BPMA catalogues).

Andre Amstutz Properly Packed Parcels Please GPO 1965

Harry Stevens GPO parcels poster 1963

But I do have to confess to a slight pleasure that we’ve got a few of these posters that the BPMA don’t (I know it’s mean, but they’re a museum, and we’re not, so it’s not something I can often do).  They do have this 1968 one by George Karo.

G B Karo vintage GPO poster properly packed parcels

But not this, from the same year.

George Karo {Properly Packed Parcels please GPO poster

And just in case you’re wondering why people need so much telling about packing their parcels properly, an earlier, 1952 poster by Karo gives us an insight into the strange things that the British public get up to with their postal service.

Karo soft fruit by post genius GPO poster

Remember, fruit juice may cause serious damage to the mails.  Now there’s a lesson to take away with you for the weekend.

  • I really want to still love the post office because of its rather superb design heritage. I love these images.

    But these days they squash please do not bend deliveries through my door. They loose things. They won’t redeliver where I live, you have to queue at the depot. They’re all-round rubbish.

    And I hate to think what they would do with a package of soft fruit these days.

  • I have probably confused Negus/Sharland (who worked on the BOAC posters) with Bund/Negus for the GPO.

    For the record, we have had brilliant service from the our posties for over thirty years.

  • Our posties are somewhere in between the two (although moving out of London didn’t half improve the situation). But I have a sharp distinction in my head between the British institution designed to improve our national life which was the glorious GPO and the profit-motivated Royal Mail. Which is probably rose-tinted nostalgia, but there you go.

  • I concur that posties outside of London are better.

    I grew up in Sheffield and we had a superb postie there. We used to present him with a purple cardboard box of miniature bars of Dairy Milk for his Christmas gift each year. It seemed a special gift as the miniature bars were foil and paper wrapped, just like the bigger bars.

    As far as design goes, I rather like the simple red and white branding current post offices have, too.

  • My father Tom Bund still has alot of his original work from the 60’s which i will be photographing soon (before it disintergrates)… would you like me to send you his email?

  • Hi ,….I don´t think I received your message….. I worked at Negus/Sharland at the time and had a great time designing the GPO posters…. if you need any further help, please keep in touch….I see that Mel, my daughter, also a designer wrote to you….I recently went through some stuff I did at Negus/Sharland, some of it may be of interest to you, they are not posters but definitively period design…..tom

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