Martin, W3PR, contacted me a time back asking if I could help him with a project. He had a design that originated with Mel Wood, appearing in the February issue of R9 magazine. Martin already had the design all set, all I needed to do was to duplicate the elements in a vector file. Which meant re-drawing the entire card to exact scale, as much as I could determine.
Diagonal and asymmetric linear lines, spheres and hemispheres were the iconic design elements of the 1930s. They spoke to slogans that sparked hope for a depression-weary society, greatly wishing for new things to replace the old. A new economy. A new deal. A new world.
Probably the best known examples of these 1930s elements, the sphere and the obelisk, were the dominant features of the NY World's Fair of 1939. The focus of the Fair was the new, the modern, the futuristic. Many forget that the first televised Presidential speech was viewed at the New York World's Fair via a closed circuit line from Washington (actual TV broadcasting did not commence till after 1946.) In the postal commemorative above, we see the Obelisk and Hemisphere, the symbols of the World's Fair. Note also the parallel lines.
These designs found themselves in the world of graphic arts, from Vogue to Saturday Evening Post to even National Geographic. QST, R9, Short Wave Craft, and Radio Magazine were not immune from these elements of modernism either. What was the inspiration for "30's Deco"? How were these elements arrived at? It was the synthesis of the original Art Deco, that spawned from the Pre Raphaelite movement of the 1880s - 1900 (the Paris Metro was a great example of Art Deco integrating with Construction Design!) - along with the aerodynamics of the new Century's greatest invention: powered flight. Aerodynamic art deco, essentially.
Correspondingly, our language was affected with terminology that resulted from the burgioning aeroplane technologies, including jet propulsion technologies which grabbed the fantasy of the public. Chrysler introduced an autombile model, the Chrysler "Air Flow". Things became "Stream-lined". In fact, one might call the "Jet Age" designs, the wing tipped tail lights of the 1950s, the points on harlequin styled eyeglasses commonly called "cat eyes", and the swooping linear lines in 1950's graphics as a sort of extension of the 1930s taste for aerodynamics....briefly interrupted by a tragic world war.
Printing the CardThe very same printing mode, technique and apparatus was used for W3PR's card as would have been employed back in Mel Wood's day. The press is a 1936 Chandler & Price New Series Letterpress, one of the first machines of the Industrial Revolution that was ergonomically designed. The dies used for the printing were created by Owosso Graphics, Owosso MI, using the same development and mounting techniques in vogue eighty years ago. Wood mounted metal dies. Only these days, the computer has replaced the repro camera in producing the negatives. However, the making of these dies is still a contact negative and chemical development affair.
There are three colours involved in this card, which means three runs through the press, followed by one more run to print the reverse side of the card, a total of four runs. Since the red and silver/grey hemispheres are lighter in colour than the black, they are considered "behind" the black. That is, these lighter colours will have the black ink printed on top of them, in the "foreground". I determined, therefore, to run the silver grey first, then the red.
SummaryI was very impressed with the results. I posted the above photos on both my own FB page, and as well the Novice Rig Round-Up FB page, and the SKCC page. The responses were impressive. As a result, in lieu of interest, I may begin to develop a Vintage Letterpress QSL card line of some sort. I will post such if I do.
Some of you may be interested in such cards for your vintage station? Perhaps you may wish to represent your vintage station with authentic era QSL cards? If so, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have a vintage radio station..... why not vintage cards? Let's face it. Having a 1930s, 40s, 50s, or even 60s station....and using modern techniques to graphically represent it....is a bit of a departure, no? If you invest a lot of bucks in your station, hey guys.....invest in your cards, too. Complete the circle. Have a real card (even if it's not me that does it.)
That's it for now, folks. Hope you enjoyed a bit of the history, background, and fun of the "Old School". It's a good School.
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