Still on holiday, I’m afraid. Our normal service will return next week.
This is what we will be doing later on today.
I will be slightly surprised if Brittany Ferries can manage to be as glamorous as this, but I can only hope. See you on our return.
I keep saying that what we know about graphic design is very much a partial history. But it’s a fact that’s worth repeating, because I’m increasingly discovering just how little knowledge we, or I at least, do have. Take Daphne Padden, for example.
To go by what can be found in archives and auctions, the extent of her work would seem to be designing posters for coach companies and menus for P&O, along with a few odds and ends for British Railways and the GPO.
But, as I mentioned the other day, we’ve now got some of her artwork and other odds and ends from her estate, and it’s a very revealing collection indeed. There are of course sketches for posters in there.
What’s different about this collection, though, is how much it reveals about her other work, in particular packaging design and corporate image. These are just a few pages from a small portfolio that she must have put together to show the range of her work.
But that’s not the half of it. I knew, because we’d bought the placard below last year, that she’d done some design work for Marks and Spencer.
But at some stage, it seems she did really quite a lot of their packaging. She kept both designs and the end product, and these cover everything from yoghurt posts to the wrappers for tights, along with much much more.
Judging from the pricing (and the inflation rate between design and finished packet) these are probably from the early to mid 1970s. But Marks & Spencers weren’t the only company she designed packaging for, either.
Had this carrier bag disappeared, as it easily might have done, Daphne Padden would just be a poster artist, no more. I’m very glad to have these, and to see how much she did really do, but it also makes me wonder about all the other bags of stuff which did get thrown away when other designers moved house or moved on. It’s heart-breaking to think about it but it’s also necessary: we must always remember just what a small and unrepresentative proportion of graphic design history does get kept, and that we will never fully comprehend the true extent of what we do not and will never know.
Happy Bank Holiday. courtesy of Edward McKnight Kauffer and the London Transport Museum.
However, I am already in the country, and it’s raining. I shall sit tight and await futher instructions.
I hadn’t intended to post anything more today, but can’t resist pointing out this.
I mentioned it last week – a 1923 MacDonald Gill London Transport map of Barrie’s Kensington Gardens. It started last week at £25 and ended up at an utterly jaw-dropping £1,106.89. Even eBay prices are shooting up it seems.
I know that I keep promising to come back to subjects on this blog, and then it never quite happens. There on the other hand, sometimes subjects come back to me, especially designers. One of the great joys of writing about a particular designer is that quite often people get in contact with their own memories of the person concerned. I’ve blogged about this before with Hans Unger, and it’s wonderful to get a sense of how much that person was respected and remembered. Recently, quite a few people emailed who had worked with Pieter Huveneers. In addition to being a great designer, he must also have been an inspiring boss and mentor.
I was also sent this by Jim Pennington, who never worked for Huveneers but does know good design when it comes his way.
It’s manual of transistors from the late 195os or early 1960s. Everything you need to know about the valves of the day, apparently. But rather lovely.
More surprisingly, a lot of people have got in contact about Denis Constanduros who, you may remember, did a few rather lovely posters for Shell and then saw how the world was going and went off to produce historical TV dramas instead.
He seems to have had a large extended family which, combined with a highly googlable surname,means that lots of his relatives have found the blog and got in touch. His grandson sent me a very interesting range of material, including this 1939 article from the Radio Times.
So, in between the water carrying and play writing he was still painting as well. There is also a picture of him and his aunt Mabel from the year before.
Meanwhile, Jonathan Spector, who isn’t a relative, sent me this book jacket illustration by Denis, for one of his aunt’s books.
This only survived by dint of being a wartime rarity. Jonathan bought a wholly other book, called People are Curious, written by James Hanley and published in reprint edition in 1945. But on the reverse of the jacket, off centre, was this – obviously the result of wartime paper rationing. I think I preferred his posters though.
That’s not the only email that arrives here at Crownfolio Towers either. Quad Royal is now important enough, it seems, to get press releases. So should you want this poster, for example, for a scooter which was apparently ‘a joy to own, as long as someone else was paying the repair bills’,
I can tell you that there’s a gallery in Canada with just the thing for you.
Back on home turf, I’ve also been contacted by VintageSeekers, who are a new antiques site with a small number vintage posters on their books.
What Vintage Seekers is, though, is a shop window for dealers, which means that you are paying not only dealers’ prices, but commission on top. So the poster above, quite apart from being for a place which you’d only want a poster of if you’d never been there, is £695.
I did get mildly excited when I saw a link to a Whisky Galore poster, as I had some memory that it was a good one. What I was thinking of was this, which is by Tom Eckersley and I have been meaning to put up for your delectation for ages now.
What I actually saw when I got to the page was this.
Which is rather more in the style of a Ladybird book and, furthermore, will set you back £2,800.
All of which is enough to send me back into the arms of eBay, where even the silly prices suddenly look more reasonable. This wartime Pat Keely is £99.95.
While the listing doesn’t mention his name, this car ferry poster is by Lander (and dates from 1960, fact fans).
This is a bit of an oddity, as I have no idea what the Pye logo is doing there, particularly as the poster seems to have ended up in America.
Although apparently the poster says that Pye were Britain’s largest exporters of radio and television. I’m still not really any the wiser.
Finally, what I need right now is a time machine, to go straight back to 1973 and attend this.
Imagine the bargains there would be for the taking.
Mr Crownfolio went off to do some shopping for our holiday the other day. He still has no sunhat, but we do now own this.
Given that the gardens were the slightly more raucous and, dare I say it, downmarket outpost of the Festival of Britain, I wasn’t expecting too much from the guide. But it’s a surprisingly interesting piece of design; take this contents page by Osbert Lancaster.
There are also some interesting layouts too.
Although I will spare you the rest of the poem which isn’t up to the standard of the typography.
The good design perhaps isn’t so surprising, as it turns out that one of the two editors and designers of the guide is Ruari McLean, founder of Motif, amongst other things.
He clearly commissioned some good artists but very few of the illustrations are credited – not just the full page spreads, but also the smaller black and white illustrations, in a whole range of styles, which are scattered throughout the text.
This is all part of trying to make the Battersea Pleasure Gardens (its name alluding to the old eighteenth century pleasure gardens at Ranleagh and Vauxhall) as uplifting and high-minded as the rest of the Festival. The guide makes it sound like a promenade of flowers, architecture, Punch and Judy Shows and orchestral music. The pictures, however, show that it was basically a very large funfair.
In the course of finding out all of this, I read an article which suggested that the Festival of Britain could be seen – if Battersea and the South Bank are thought of together – as the world’s first theme park, with the theme of course being Britain. It’s an interesting thought.
But I haven’t quite finished with the guide yet, because it’s also got some interesting advertisements in. One is by our old friends Lewitt-Him.
They designed the Festival Clock, which was one of the attractions of Battersea and apparently contained the most complicated clock mechanism ever built at that time. It was such a success that Guinness commissioned eight more, allowing the clock to tour department stores and amusement parks all over the country.
This Gillette advert, meanwhile, is a reminder that modern design still only had a very tenuous hold in 1951 Britain, and certainly hadn’t spread to packaging design.
Tom Eckersley’s Gillette posters from a year or so before suffered from just the same problems of contrast.
A copy of this hangs on our stairs and, every so often, I am still shocked again by the contrast between the modern image and the Victorian packaging.
Finally, though, there is this, which will just have to describe itself.
Truly it is a brave new world which has such things in it.