Friday, 11 October 2013

Highlights of Hasler: English market towns

A tranche of MoDA's work this year has focused on the graphic designer Charles Hasler and his collection of reference material. As we've studied this collection, we've realised its detailed, multi-faceted nature is what makes it both significant and somewhat problematic. It's full of so much interesting stuff! But the sheer quantity and variety can create a barrier to engagement. We hope that our recent project will go some way to making it accessible. To aid this, we are taking a month on the blog to draw attention to some Hasler highlights. This week we begin with Hasler's papers on English market towns.

Three folders in Hasler's collection are marked as 'Rye reference material' (the small East Sussex town, rather than the cereal). On closer investigation, it seems there is more than one town in the box, but lots of different papers on several English market towns - namely, Rye, Stourbridge and Hawes.

It's a strange collection of nineteenth and early twentieth century papers, ranging from ballots for local elections to clippings, packaging and office labels from local businesses. There are as many official looking documents like this 1858 voting paper for Councillors to the Borough of Rye as there are ephemeral items likes these 'POISON' labels from O.R. Bowe - a Hawes chemist and druggist.

Further research into the collection will likely reveal Hasler's thinking behind this group of papers; perhaps they were acquired through a friend or picked up as research for a particular job. I think we can be certain that with his keen interest in typography, Hasler would have found the fonts and graphics a great source of inspiration. Here are just a few examples:


These English market town papers are now accessible to MoDA study room visitors and we hope that graphic design students in particular will find these of interest. Perhaps with a bit more documentation work they will also be something local historians can make use of.

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