Recent Acquisitions

In the days when I used to be in the V&A, which is quite some time ago, each department used to have cases where they displayed recently bought objects, before they found their place in the main collection, with a small paper sign in which read Recent Acquisitions.  A friend of mine got hold of one of these and stuck it on her fridge, which amused me a great deal at the time.

All of which is by way of saying that we’ve bought a few things recently (in fact, thanks to the wonder of modern phones, we managed to do most of this on holiday).  These GPO posters are small, Demy I think, but each one perfectly formed.

Tom Eckersley vintage posters 1955 GPO
Tom Eckersley, 1955

Beaumont Vintage GPO post early poster n/d
Beaumont, can’t find a date

Frank Newbould Telephone your orders vintage GPO posters
Frank Newbould, 1930s?

Although small daughter refuses to be quite persuaded that the image above is actually a telephone.

There’s also the Bloomsbury Sale, which was on Wednesday.   I didn’t get time to preview it, what with being in France, but that’s also been handy because I didn’t want to point at this too hard.

Lewitt Him vintage London transport poster 1938

It’s by Lewitt Him, and dates from 1938.  I’d never seen it before, even though it is in the London Transport Museum Collection now I look.  And I think we won it, although I haven’t definitely heard from Bloomsbury that we have yet.  We better had, that’s all I’m saying.

There were a few other nice things in there, but the online catalogue seems to have disappeared already so I can’t tell you about then.   More fun next week, though, when there will be some pictures of actual vintage posters on billboards for you, and rather good posters at that.

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Nothing New

Worried about your Facebook presence?  Not sure how to optimise your Twitter account for the benefit of your business?  Finding all these modern communications just a bit confusing?

Well you would have been just as worried about new media eighty years ago, or it seems.

Selling By Telegram leaflet from eBay

The leaflet, should you want to take comfort in the easier choices of an analogue age, is for sale on eBay right now.  Stop.

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Round and about

We’re back from France.  There were no posters there that we could see, but we did find this roundabout.

two cows on roundabout

I think Barbara Jones would have liked its exuberance.  We did.

Here, the left hand cat has run away with a piece of meat (at least I think that’s what it is meant to be, even though it looks more like a strawberry).

You can find them all right next to the Roman triumphal arch in Saintes; I think Barbara Jones would have appreciated that juxtaposition as well.

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En Vacances

Beer holiday poser

Still on holiday, I’m afraid.  Our normal service will return next week.

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Night Ferry

This is what we will be doing later on today.

Night Ferry 1959

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.


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The unknown known

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.

Daphne Padden take your children to the seaside poster

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.

Daphne Padden menu P&O

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.

Daphne Padden artwork for wales poster

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.

Daphne Padden portfolio cigarette packet design 1960s?

Daphne Padden portfolio coach poster design

Daphne Padden portfolio cigarette packets

Daphne Padden portfolio exhibition design

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.

Daphne Padden chef design 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.

Daphne Padden Marks and Spencers Washing Up Liquid design

Daphne Padden M&S angel sandwich design and finished

Daphne Padden Marks and Spencers Christmas cake design

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.

Daphne Padden Hathaways Jam design

Daphne Padden frozen strawberries packaging

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.

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