See Again

The end of the summer holidays loom, normal order will be restored soon.  But in the meantime, here is proof that not all good design either comes from a known designer or has been seen and seen again.  I love every single one of these designs, and they deserve to be better known.

In the course of some auction research, Mr Crownfolio came across the Murphy Radio site.  Now, generally, this bears the same relation to poster design as railway name-plate auctions do.  Actually, no, it’s even more frightening; there are circuit diagrams.

A murphy circuit diagram, don't ask me which one

This is for the Murphy A26 RG radiogram for use with AC Mains, since you ask.

But also on the site are pages and pages of leaflets and brochures.  And they are great.  All of the following are  from 1948-49 and are incredibly sharp for their era.

Murphy leaflet 1

Mprhy leaflet 2

Murphy brochure 3

In fact, the graphic design was considerably more modern than the televisions themselves.  This brochure

another Murphy brochure

is for this television.

large wooden television not living up to graphic style

Unlike the brochure, the woodwork hasn’t moved on from the 1930s.  In some ways this is surprising, because much of the company’s graphic design was done by James Reeve, who also designed many of the televisions.  I was going to say that I like the brochures better than the products, but then I would say that, wouldn’t I.

There are plenty more great pieces of design as we go into the early to mid 50s.

yet another murphy brochure

When we also enter the era of the portable (ish) radio.

Another Murphy catalogue cover

Murphy Irish catalogue

best bit of design there is here

I swear, it’s almost like looking at European posters it’s that good.

The great work continues until 1960.

1950 murphy television brochure

What I find extraordinary, apart from the fact that I haven’t seen these before, is that an internal employee, whose main job was designing television sets, produced all of the above. He clearly knew his graphic design – especially considering that the likes of Abram Games and Reginald Mount were designing posters for Murphy television – but that can’t account for all of it.  James Reeve was certainly a very clever man, bordering on undiscovered genius.

Furthermore, he is definitely hiding his light under a bushel.  He’s written an ebook about his designs – which you can find here - and it’s all about televisions.  Although I can give you this wonderful image of the Murphy stand at Olympia in 1939 – I’m guessing for the Ideal Home Show.

Murphy stand Olympia 1939

But it is possible to find out more.  There’s an exhibition at Mill Green Museum in Hatfield, all about Reeve’s work and including some of his poster designs.  So if someone could pop over and tell me if the rest of his work is as good as this stuff, I’d be very grateful.

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