Vintage Stationery Packaging

11th July 2024

These kind of things might look like junk to some, but for a graphic designer finding vintage packaging is a joy! My sister has been working her way through my late Dad’s study. He was quite a ‘just in case’ kind of guy, which meant there are plenty of things for us to sort. Recently my sister started tackling the stationery supplies and I just loved some of the retro packaging, I thought I would share it with you.

First up Sellotape. These metal tins were produced from the brands beginnings in 1937 right up until the 1980s. Our one looks like it might have been a later design, 70s or 80s. Quite a lovely thing, and much better than wrapping them in cellophane!

This bright red box of staples has the most adorable logo, known as the ‘Little Man’ logo introduced in 1958 to the still going strong Rexel company. It was founded by George Drexler from Prague who moved to London to start his own stationery company in 1939.

I recon these razor blades must have belonged to my Nan as she would cut hair sometimes, and she lived in ‘Ricky’. Lovely retro illustration, although I would say the guy with a full head of hair pictured doesn’t look like he wants to have his hair cut! Durham Duplex actually started its life in New York in 1875, despite the rather British name. Though its Sheffield roots go way back to 1910. Proud of their heritage, the retro feel logo is still in play. This box design looks like it could be from around the 1970s, though the price looks newer. The Durham Duplex system was quite revolutionary at the time, meaning the blades could be sharpened pretty much endlessly. I love that these still have the price on them!

Tipp-ex is an old familiar one, can’t say I have used it in years but it was pretty vital with all my spelling errors when doing my homework back in the day (thank goodness for spell check!) It was a German company that started in 1958, selling initially correction paper for typewriters. The name comes from the German word ‘Tipp’ meaning ‘to type’ and the Latin word ‘Ex’ meaning ‘no more’. The box says ‘made in West Germany’ so it has to be before the 1990s. It is a similar design though to the 1960s ones I have found, but I would be very surprised if it is that old, it hasn’t totally dried up!

From the American brand 3M there is quite an informative and interesting history here of the inventor of Scotch tape, Richard Drew. It seems the first patented Scotch tape was masking tape, Drew had made a brash promise to a mechanic that he could solve their masking problems. Back in the 1920s two-toned cars were all the rage and producing these paint effects cleanly and without damaging the paintwork was tricky. It took two years but he cracked it. The Magic tape though came in 1961, more than just invisible, it could be written on with a pen, pencil or marker.

This little tiny box of split pins feels pretty old! I can’t find anything at all about the brand online, though there is a British kitchenware company from 1912 called Tower, it is possible these came from them. Or perhaps more likely, there is a Tower brand founded in Wales in 1894 (my grandad was from Wales), now owned by Schneider Electric, which started out making nails. The ‘1 Gross’ puzzled me, but it is a unit of measurement (my dad would have know that!) so its means 144 items. So I have no idea when this is from, but it looks kind of cool!

Covering all bases, these Fisco drawing pins are also labelled ‘thumb tacks’. Lovely retro logo design looks like its from the 1960s, though they had this design for many years, so it’s hard to know. Fisco started in 1940 in a cellar in London by Leo Fisher making drawing pins and upholstery nails. Later they branched out into measuring tapes.

I found a similar box of these paper clips on Etsy marked as being made by Scovill in England in the 1950s. Still perfectly usable, no rust at all!

Can’t find anything about the history of ‘Web’ but I love their logo! A little bit of gold glam when stamping your bills ‘paid’!

Finally, my sister also found these, little jars of fabric paints. The ‘Colour-fun’ logo has a beautiful fluid retro feel. Dylon is a company still going strong, founded in 1946 in London, thriving in the ‘make do and mend’ wartime culture.

Just a little dive in to branding history! I do love a bit of retro, and it’s lovely to see the layout and design, especially the typography, of simple things like stationery. All been preserved in my dad’s rather random study!

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