Happy birthday, New Amsterdam (1653). An engraved map from 1897 is described as follows:
“Map of the Original Grants of Village Lots from the Dutch West India Company to the Inhabitants of New-Amsterdam, (Now New-York.) lying below the present line of Wall Street. Grants commencing A.D. 1642.”
Officially titled “Sixteen Maps Accompanying Report On Forest Trees Of North America, By C.S. Sargent, 1884,” this beautiful collection of maps-as-info-graphics produced by the U.S. Census provides a Victorian era view of forests in North America by genus of tree, density, and position. Thanks to Rebecca Onion who runs Slate’s history blog The Vault (@SlateVault) for posting this article, which contains link to high-res images for zoom-in fun.
A rotating exhibit at the Lillian Goldman Visitor Center of the Seed Savers Exchange highlights some beautiful seed catalog covers from days gone by. I’m nowhere near Decorah, IA, but if you aren’t either, don’t fret. They’re updating this Facebook photo album with samples from the exhibit. Hopefully they’ll be adding more as this is merely the inaugural selection. When you’re done, you should also check out another album of “Early 1900’s Seed Catalog Tin Signs & Magnets,” which they’ve re-issued as tin replicas that you can buy in their online store.
Ready for another visually and intellectually stimulating time suck? Look no further than the wonderfully rambling blog Confessions of a Bookplate Junkiewhere said junkie Lew Jaffe shows off his personal collection of bookplates—which go way beyond those timid Papyrus “ex libris” stickers—as well as other related bits of graphical ephemera and goes on wild hare tangents that both inform and amuse. Seriously, any fans of spot color printing, woodcut, engraving and etching, hand-lettering, illustration and graphic design in general will find this otherwise modest blog to be pure design inspiration.
I’m a sucker for 1950s color advertising photography, with its over-saturated colors and idyllic subjects and scenery. The packaging for the baia Instamount Photo Cube was no let down in this respect. Looking like scenes from bygone family-oriented TV shows the sides of this box, which held a once ubiquitous acrylic photo cube, wreak of family values and WASPy middle American life. The eye-catcher for me, though, was the simple 3-color baia logo set in a bold, slightly extended version of Clarendon. It feels rather modern for such a classic and commonly used typeface perhaps due to the even/odd interplay of the flipped words’ alternating characters. I owned a baia 8mm film editor some time ago and never paid much mind to the faded, black logo on it. I’d surely have kept the thing if the logo had appeared like this.
Behold this recently acquired stash of Bell Records 45 RPM and 78 RPM 7-inch vinyl records, which were distributed by Pocket Books and featured cover versions or “sound-alike” versions of popular tunes of the time. Sound-alike versions were cheap to produce and, beyond the flat rate the musicians were paid, cost the record company only publishing royalties on top of manufacturing and distribution. A nickel and dime game perhaps, but there was certainly profit to be made if enough unsuspecting customers bought the sound-alikes instead of the real McCoys. Some of the songs featured in this collection are Jackie Wilson’s That’s Why, here performed by otherwise-lost-to-history act, “The Muses” and the Kingston Trio’s hit, Tom Dooley, performed by the equally anonymous “The Four Dreams.”
Click on over to Letterheady, a one-page scroller featuring letterhead designs for such notable figures as Nikola Tesla and Adolph Hitler to obscure companies like the Liverpool-based Robot Salesmen Ltd. They appear to be legit, with sources linking to other sites from which the examples were culled. Some seem to have been Photoshopped to give them an empty, unused state. Who cares. They’re fun to browse and fit right in here with my love of Visual Junk.
As much a gallery as it is an one-stop-shop for lovers of Visual Junk, Collectors Weekly has an impressive interface which pulls relevant auctions from eBay of just the stuff you’re looking for. Take, for example, their Vintage Beer Bottle Labels page, which lists several external websites that exhibit vintage beer labels from around the world—including NoRelevance.com’s Bock Beer Labels exhibit—and also displays 60 current auctions for all sorts of delicious vintage breweriana as well as related events happening around the country. There goes the rest of my afternoon!
I’m just getting around to this aptly named Austinite’s clever manipulation of trash into treasure. Newspaper Blackout is the creation of Austin Kleon, “a writer and artist living in Austin, Texas” who has presented his Sharpie-saturated works at such notable events as Pecha Kucha Night, TEDx and SXSW 2010, the latter I most likely missed due to being lost between the 3rd and 4th floors of that stupidly designed convention center. I can’t imagine what his studio/workspace must smell like as the marker coverage area on these pieces is considerable. Like torn scraps of notes or letters, the context of his poems evolve with each word one reads creating narratives far beyond what their original author intended. And like Andy Warhol’s re-purposed newspaper photos there’s no end to Kleon’s source material.
Those of you familiar with NoRelevance.com and perhaps my other blog, CrateDiggersGold.com, know of my love, er- lust for 45 RPM records and their label art. Well, I’ve had to practically be medicated to prevent myself from starting another collection: 45 RPM factory sleeves. I thank Ms Kavel Rafferty for taking on this task and doing such a swell job of it. Design is certainly part of the allure of collecting paper ephemera, but process is also part of my curiosity. As modern printing goes digital it’s nice to have on hand several references of one and two color printing that look great despite their age and the cheap papers and inks most of these sleeves consisted of. I still consider the large hole 45 RPM record label and sleeve to be among the more difficult design challenges. Good think vinyl’s making a come back!
Firstly, no, I am not affiliated in any way with The Label Man, but I do LOVE the original vintage labels featured (and for sale) on this website. The collections are broken down into several categories for your browsing pleasure and the website also features plenty of info on the history of crate labels as well as “Tips on Building your Collection of Vintage Fruit Crate Labels.” The hundreds of labels on the website provide a cornucopia of hand-drawn typography from around the ’30s through the recent past and should be a great source of inspiration for any creative persons’ pursuits.
Thanks to @brandi_duncan for turning me on to FaceOut Books and their inspiring blog, which features among others these wonderful book covers designed by Alvin Lustig. Reminiscent of Alexander Steinweiss’ covers for Columbia records, Lustig exploited the silhouette as design element and hand-drawn scripts to wonderfully tasteful heights. If you’ve read any of the books whose covers he designed for authors as varied as Franz Kafka to Henry James you will probably find that they were equally illustrative from a context standpoint. One can see resemblances to fellow modernist Paul Rand in the geometric and free-form shapes he used as well as his love for color. Check them out and be inspired.
Do you? I’m not sure you do, unless of course you start browsing the many family photos in this online memory project. DoYouKnowWhatItMeans.org hopes to avoid the type of catastrophic loss of visual history as which happened with the floodwaters of Katrina. Many photos seem to have survived a hurricane or flood or two, which would not be beyond the realm of possibilities for residents of New Orleans who seem to suffer a major “natural” disaster every generation or so. The snapshots instantly bring me back to my childhood. I have fond memories of “hurricane parties,” where several families on a street would convene to one house with the kids all running around the back yard and the dads setting up a giant cauldron atop a propane stove to boil crawfish, crabs and shrimp. Once the rains and heavy winds began the party would move indoors where the moms played Bourré under hurricane lamps, the men tweaked their transistor radios and the kids pulled out their Nash Roberts hurricane tracking maps waiting for the inevitable eye to come…
This is the tagline for a wonderful site created by Marty Weil entitled simply “Ephemera.” As someone who was bitten by the collecting bug at an early age (first stamps & baseball cards, then eventually everything) I truly enjoyed digging around this well researched and illustrated blog. Each entry is presented with enough background info to give the visually interesting a proper context. Though, “paper” only hints at the content featured, which ranges from booklets & publications to advertising pieces to photos & postcards and more. Oh, and did I mention the vintage dairy patch collection?