Archive for the ‘Graphic design’ Category

Bengers Ribana Bathwear ads from the thirties

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Yes, I mean it. I’d go for a good board game over any computer game any day and I have a large collection of old and new board games at my week end place. And what’s more, computer games are banned there. There’s nothing better on a rainy day than to make a pot of Assam, light a fire in the fireplace and settle down for a good board game. Call me old fashioned, but playing a board game is a something people do together, most computer games you play alone.

Only one thing beats a good board game and that’s a dice game. Particularly medieval or Viking dice game and Cameron in particular – Ted 😉

Image found at Beveldrive

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674_beatle game

When you were the most popular band in the world you could make money on just about any thing – Ted 😉

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583_guilt trip

Old time religion Guilt Trip postcard No Date
Image from Collection Jim Linderman

As  a kid I was at Sunday school only once. I was there with my four year older sister and it was a Christmas party. We got soda pop and sweet rolls. When it was time to go home I asked if we would get soda and rolls the next Sunday as well and was told by the ancient lady that run the school that that was only for very special occasions. They never saw me again. Strangely, I feel no guilt – Ted

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. . . and that is not much of a comfort after you’ve blown your pecker off. Besides you’ll need a new one, briefs that is, because they probably don’t keep their fit to the extent that they are bullet proof.

Image found at johnny bombshell

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From “The International Book of Beer Labels, Mats & Coasters” published by Chartwell books in 1979


Bottled products bore paper labels in the seventeenth century. Early drug phials had a label which covered the whole of the glass and early in the following century, patent medicine vendors were using paper labels widely. The first use of labels on alcohol bottles seems to have come in the middle of the eighteenth century, it is known, for example, that a black and white label was being used for port wine in 1756. Up to the 1860s, bottles of wine were sold in cases largely’ to members of the upper and middle classes, and were therefore not distributed widely; around that time, however, concern that a wider public should have access to wine (partly to counteract the widescale consumption of spirits) gave rise to legislation to allow any retailer to sell wine in single bottles, and each bottle had to have a label. Beer labels were probably unknown before the 1840s.

Read the article story HERE

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121_mario_borgoni_001Art Nouveau in its graphic form was introduced to Italy in 1895, where it became known as Liberty Style (after the name of the London departmental store famed for its contemporary designs).

Mario Borgoni, a young Italian artist who had been born in 1869 in Pesaro (on the eastern coast of Italy) and studied at the Neapolitan Art Institute, where he later taught Ornament for many years, was an early practitioner of the fresh new style. As his pairs at the then revolutionary Italian Liberty Movement he had such gifted graphic artists as Giovanni Mataloni and, especially, the German immigrant Adolfo Hohenstein.   

121_mario_borgoni_002Around 1900 he started freelancing for the Neapolitan printer Richter & C, becoming its artistic director around 1906. In his posters for Richter, Borgoni often used a particular Liberty design solution by which he separated the image in two parts: i) a sort of dark cursive frame in the foreground, that often included the lettering and, at times, an observer; and ii) a scene as viewed from the window thus formed.

That style, as applied to hotel labels by him or other artists under his direction, became a sort of trademark of Richter & C that was widely imitated and upon which rested the company’s worldwide success as a supplier of labels to the hotel trade.

Mario Borgoni made a career as a bona-fide artist and painter-decorator, but experts say that his art lacks depth. Whatever they may mean by that, it is undeniable that he was a superior draughtsman of the human figure and is justly remembered for his sensuous treatment of women in some of his best poster work. He has probably designed many labels early in his career but soon he concentrated on posters, some of which were reduced for use as labels. These often carry his monogram (the letters "Mbi" in a circle).        


This label for a Spanish hotel (click it for a larger view) demonstrates Borgoni’s versatility. His simplified rendering of the busy Rambla, the contrast of colors and the effective lettering combine with quite amazing results.

There is some indication that, non-withstanding his talent, Borgoni did not consider himself a true artist, possibly because so much of his work was graphic: in 1916, when Enrico Gianelli did a compilation of biographical notes on Neapolitan artists, Borgoni left unanswered a request for data on himself, which Gianelli attributed to an excess of modesty but more likely stemmed from a lack of self esteem for his own work.

121_mario_borgoni_008 Another clue to his feelings can be found in the fact that, unlike other artists, he often did not sign his poster work. It is likely that his few known signed labels were originally designed as posters and then reduced for use as labels.In 1930 Borgoni left Italy for the United States where (at 61!) he started a new career as publicity and fashion illustrator. He returned in 1936 to die in Naples, where he had worked for most of his life.

Borgoni’s main contributions to hotel label art were the double-plane style, the elegant Liberty lettering and his "degradee" treatment of the early morning or evening skies. The proper lithographic rendering of his reds or oranges softly fading into yellows requires a high level of workmanship and its widespread use in hotel labels is characteristic of Richter alone.   

One of the most endearing and easily recognizable aspects of Mario Borgoni’s superb designs was his treatment of the early morning or late afternoon skies, often with a moon, as exemplified by the label above, lithographically printed after a poster, around 1912; and by the label below.

121_mario_borgoni_009 The Hotel Cristina opened for the 1929 Exhibition in Seville and this was its second label. Albeit unsigned, Borgoni’s style is unmistakable and shines through at a time when Richter’s new designs were a pale makeshift of the marvelous labels of 20 years before. This may well have been Borgoni’s very last label for Richter.

Mario Borgoni was and remained primarily a  poster artist. The fact that most (if not all) of his known (signed) labels are scaled-down posters is apparent: Borgoni’s treatment of detail and light in the large lithographic posters is often impossible to render accurately, by the same technique, at the reduced scale of a label. So, several of his labels were either reproduced photographically from posters and printed by the 3-color process (which lowers considerably their interest and value), or else they were lithographed at the cost of a noticeable loss in graphic quality. For labels printed by the 3-color process, examine that of the Nettuno Hotel in Pisa (above, far right) and that of the National Hotel at the top right side. Compare this label with the same design on a later lithography.

Yet his influence was decisive at the onset of the First Golden Age of hotel labels. His style was the artistic pillar of Richter’s success, and the ubiquity of Richter’s labels made of Borgoni’s style the standard by which all others would be measured.


Borgoni himself never adapted to the modernistic deco trends and Richter was at a stylistic dead-end by the time he left. But even so, he remains the most influential hotel label artist. Actually, the only one without whom the history of this field would certainly have been different.

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