Curator of the Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture, Sim Panaser, finds some unusual Christmas cards in the museum's Charles Hasler Collection:
Have you sent your Christmas cards? I must admit I haven't and it appears I am not alone, with a recent article in the The Guardian asking if, 2014 is the year that the Christmas card died. Below are a selection of fantastic Christmas cards from MoDA's collections that will inspire you to keep the tradition alive.
One of the things I enjoy most about working with MoDA collections is seeing everyday objects that are often overlooked afresh. This was the case when I opened a small and unassuming box of Christmas and New Year cards that were sent to the graphic designer Charles Hasler (1908-1992) during the 1950s. I was struck by the graphic design of each card, the carefully considered illustrations, typography and colourways, all designed to delight, entertain and surprise - truly capturing the spirit of the festive season. Kept by Hasler for over thirty years these cards must have had a similar effect on him too.
The next thing I noticed were the people who had sent the cards and who in some cases had designed them too. These individuals were key figures in post-war design, a roll call of eminent designers and taste-makers of the day. Not only reflecting Hasler's connection to them but positioning him among them. Hasler worked as graphic designer for central government departments between 1942 and 1951, including the Ministry of Information and Festival of Britain, for which he was the Chairman of the Typography Panel. He then went on to be a freelance designer and typographer and his impressive client list included British Rail and Architectural Review.
Don't over-reach yourself during 1956
I think this card may have been sent to Hasler from the designers Ronald Sandiford and Clifford Hatts, both of whom worked on the Festival of Britain displays. Note the different names on this card, Ronald Sandidown instead of Sandiford and Clifford Upsiffats instead of Clifford Hatts. The replacement suffix and prefix to their surnames create the word 'upsidown', mirroring the design of the card itself and perhaps an indication of the perils of over-reaching yourself.
Greetings from Mr and Mrs Fishenden, 1954
R.B. Fishenden (1880-1956) was the eminent print consultant and editor of the Penrose Annual, a London based review of the graphic arts. Hasler designed the 1957 volume of the annual which can be viewed here at MoDA. More cards sent by Fishenden featuring fishy motifs can be seen in the Guildford School of Art archive at the UCA. Further information about the archive and both Mr and Mrs Fishenden can be found here.
Hoping you will be as well stuffed this Christmas, 1953
This Christmas card features a photograph of architect-designer and founder of the Design Research Unit, Misha Black (1910-1977). Hasler worked with Black on the Ministry of Information's Greater London Plan exhibition in 1944 as well as the 1951 Festival of Britain.
The portrait of Black, together with the message inside reflects Black's sense of humour and the hot pink interior adds to the irreverence.
Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, 1954
This wonderful card in which the year 1954 literally disappears before your eyes was sent to Hasler by the Henrions. Frederick Henri Kay Henrion (1914-1990) was an emigre graphic designer who worked for the Ministry of Information in 1942 and produced some of its most well known work including the 'Dig for Victory' poster. Henrion's archive is located at the University of Brighton and contains references to Hasler indicating their connection.
If you would like to view any items from the Charles Hasler collection please contact us to make an appointment. In the meantime wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. See you in 2015.