The British Postal Museum and Archive have changed their website. Now I know that this may not count as the most earth-shattering information you have ever received, but from where I am standing it’s good news indeed. And when my old bookmark retrieves their new website, I am perhaps appropriately now greeted with this, which is by Graham Byfield and dates from 1954 but which I have never knowingly searched for in my life. Although I’m starting to rather like it.
The BPMA have always been among the good guys in the sense that their archive is mostly digitised, online and searchable. The only problem has been that the pictures have been, well, postage stamp sized. Which has its uses, but is a bit taxing when you are looking at posters. But not any more. So now I can say, see this lovely Hans Unger from 1950, and it’s worth you taking a look.
What’s even better news, though, is that a whole heap more stuff has been added to the archives too. So should you type a (slightly less than) random word such as Eckersley into the search box, all sorts of new delights come up. I have a vague sense that I have seen this summery 1953 poster before.
But I definitely haven’t seen this (an early effort from 1951 and reminiscent of his wartime ROSPA posters).
Nor this more modern bauble from 1964.
And I definitely haven’t seen this 1954 one anywhere before, not ever.
What fun, and I’ve hardly started. My only small gripe would be that images have a standard width, which works fine for most posters, but the van strips (for use on side of small vans: Morris minor vans) are still a bit squinty. Which matters a bit for this lovely 1968 detector van (Eckersley again).
But a lot more for these Lewitt-Him dogs. Truly I do need a copy of this poster, and I don’t care that it will be a very long frame.
One day, I’d like to see a picture of one of those van posters in use, on a Morris Minor for preference (adds to list of bits of aimless research which may get done one day).
But it’s not just Tom Eckersley of course, there’s also Dorrit Dekk, here from 1950.
And this Henrion too, from five years later.
What’s also interesting is that the search function has changed slightly – by which I mean improved. Now when I search the catalogue for Henrion, I don’t just get the posters, but also records of the time that Henrion Associates were employed in 1967 to redesign the whole GPO. There’s some proper research that could be done one day.
There are still some things missing; my understanding is that not all of the 60s posters have yet been digitised, nor the tiny phone-boxed sized square posters, and there’s still only a small smattering of Post Office Savings Bank images in there too.
For most people though, what’s already there will be plenty enough to be going on with. What I’ve posted here is just a first scratching of the surface, and I am sure there are still plenty more treasures to be turned up when I rummage further. In the meantime, I will leave you with this, by someone called Gapp, and once more from 1954, for no better reason than I like it.
Of course all images are with thanks to the BPMA and their lovely shiney new website.
Edit: further to the conversation below, I have now raided their website once again to find pictures of a Morris Mail Van (70 cu ft, not a Minor sadly) with a poster displayed on its side. And here it is, from 1944.
Inexplicably, there is another picture of what looks like a different version of the van, but with exactly the same poster on.
I am also rather tickled by the poster they’re displaying, which couldn’t be more British if it tried. I imagine it being said in very clipped and understated tones.
There ought to be more advertising like that these days. Incidentally, that, because it concerns telephones and only telephones comes not from the BPMA but from the BT Archive, which I wrote about ages ago but clearly need to revisit.
And finally, from a specialist GPO van website (I say no more) a Morris Minor GPO van. Sadly I can’t see the poster though.
My next question has to be, does anyone have one of those van display posters preserved, apart from the BPMA that is? This is the closest we have, from the same year as the polite poster above, but much smaller at 6″ x 20″.
But some of the longer ones are twice that length – did they all disappear? I need to know.