It’s hard to describe the sheer excitement and overwhelm that makes me want to hide in a corner at first. It’s an endless treasure trove of gorgeous typography and vintage graphics, and the fear of wanting everything briefly paralyses me before I take a deep breath and dig in.
To keep me company in my excitement-slash-angst, I went with a friend of mine who shares the same crush on old bits of paper. I thought we might just egg each other on but actually he played a key part in my not bringing home a hundred sheets of vintage ads, and helped me to choose a small haul, which I’m very pleased with. Ephemera high-five!
First up, a page advertising Cadbury’s Cocoa Essence and Mexican Chocolate. This was one that pained me to leave behind last time and since it was still there, I took it as a sign. There’s something lovely and neat about how they’ve squeezed all the words on vertically and horizontally, and of course the bright colours.
The next is perhaps my favourite, a label for Wm. P. Hartley’s Table Jellies. I’ve been wanting to make some jellies for a while, since Bompass and Carr became all the rage, and while this hasn’t happened (yet!), this will satisfy my craving for Victorian-style moulds in the meantime.
This ‘Welcome to Europe’ print is published by the Post Office. I do love the Post Office’s old ads, and I’ve long been coveting several of their old prints, which you can buy here. The font is striking, particularly the ‘M’. I’m reading Just My Type by Simon Garfield at the moment, which is giving me a fascinating insight into typefaces, and means I’m noticing fonts way more than before.
The last print I found in a tempting pile of pages detached from The English Encyclopaedia: being a collection of treatises, and a dictionary of terms, illustrative of the arts and sciences, published in 1802. Both of us loved the intricate and precise drawings, which were of everything from shells to husbandry to chemistry equipment, often all on the same page. From a ‘short’-list of around 25, I managed to pick this one of burning lenses.
Aside from the lovely drawings, there’s something I like about it that I can’t quite put my finger on. I think it has to do with the way the ‘Burning Mirror of M. Buffon’ and the old-fashioned science equipment seem to belong in one of my childhood fantasy adventure books.
You can find out when the next London fairs are here.