A New Old Toy


A friend recently purchased this from a local auction and I was given ‘first refusal!’ Like many things bought at local auctions, this worked but needed a good clean and a bit of TLC. After a settling on a very reasonable price, I am now the owner of an old perforating machine. Yes, a perforating machine. For perforating paper and the like.


It still bears its nameplate too, so I did a little research and found a catalogue and pricelist of theirs from 1902. Apart from that, there doesn’t appear to be much else on Frederick Ullmer Ltd of Farringdon Road, which surprised me as they were manufacturers of Albion presses and were highly regarded.


In the catalogue there is an engraving of a  remarkably similar (and much more decorative) perforating machine, which was strangely satisfying!


If anyone knows anything about these machines or the Ullmer Company in general, please get in touch…

A close inspection showed that it was very rarely taken apart to clean or service it. In fact, many of the screws were properly gummed down with a layer of grease and grime, so it was liberally coated with penetrating oil and left to stand for a day or two.


I began to strip it down and found that the majority of the screws were quite happy to remain where they were, but plenty more ‘loose juice’ and some gently applied brute force eventually got things moving.


I was intending to take lots of detail photos of each stage to help me put it all back together, but only managed a few because it was such a mucky job. This was the top of the perforating guide plate just after removal:


It was only when I turned it over that I realised it was made of brass! This part then got a good de-greasing and a polish with the trusty old ‘Brasso’ and it now it even shines a little!


Underneath, the screws holding the lower perforating guide were proving equally as stubborn and needed plenty of lubricant and even more force. These were really tough to remove…


Eventually I got everything apart and gave it a good cleaning. Although the screws were reluctant to come out, they all did – except one which completely disintegrated! Note the seven small screws at the bottom right! Not bad going I reckon.


I’m not sure whether I am going to give this a fresh coat of paint, but I am going to replace the two boards which were very badly worn and probably not original anyway. Thats my next job…


Oh? The perforating? You’ll have to wait for that.

Adobe Illustrator

New Vectors


I love Adobe Illustrator. As well as being one of the primary tools for my commercial work as a graphic designer, I still play around with it for my own amusement. I know, I should get out more. This is the first of a series of illustrations of classic mid-century design objects entirely created using vector software.

For those of you unfamiliar with this, vector images are made up of many individual, scalable objects. These objects are defined by mathematical equations rather than pixels, so they always render at the highest quality. Objects may consist of lines, curves, and shapes with editable attributes such as color, fill, and outline. Because they’re scalable, vector images are resolution independent. You can increase and decrease the size of vector images to any degree and the lines will remain crisp and sharp, both on screen and in print.

However, most people are more familiar with bitmap images – also known as raster images – which are made up of pixels in a grid. Each pixel records a tiny portion of colour so if you keep increasing the size of a bitmap image, you will soon see the pixels:


One of the other benefits of working with vectors is that files sizes are much lower. This is because they do not have to record information as individual pixels, but simply reference points, their relationship to each other and their attributes.

For those who are interested in what this means, if I was to save a copy of this file to TIFF format it would occupy 12.3MB of memory to store it. By contrast, the original vector file is just 3.8MB, even if it was enlarged to the size of a house. If you work digitally, this makes a big difference.

Here is a view of the vector lines that form the structure to the illustration:


For those who are interested in the chair, this is a moulded plastic armchair by Charles and Ray Eames, originally designed in 1950.

Note to self: get out more.


New Products in Stock!


I’ve got some new stuff for sale over in my shop at Society6 that are all inspired by the classic VW Beetle! I love the old iconic bug and know that there are plenty of you out there who do too!

As usual, there are t-shirts, vests and hoodies (male and female versions too!) in a wide range of colours, as well as bags, cushions, clocks, mugs, iPhone cases, laptop skins etc., as well as framed prints and canvases.

Although it is a US store, they ship worldwide and if you use this link before 8th May 2016 you’ll get FREE SHIPPING! That’s FREE SHIPPING, folks! Anywhere! 

Only via this link though, and before 8th May, OK? (Promotion expires May 8, 2016 at Midnight Pacific Time)

letterforms, Photography

St. Nicks


LESTARET-stnicks-1I recently passed the St. Nicholas Chapel in King’s Lynn and noticed that it was open to the public again. It is one of the towns collection of lovely old churches and has undergone some major restorations in recent years. It is one of those places that is no longer used for regular services, but reserved for special occasions, ceremonial and cultural events, and I had not been inside for many years, and as I had my camera with me, I decided to go and have a look around.

Those who are regular visitors and followers of this blog will know of my fondness (or obsession) with lettering, and old churches never disappoint in this regard.LESTARET-stnicks-2

Many of these images are from the floor stones and show a fantastic array of styles over the years. I love the latin, the antiquated language and spelling, and those odd turns of phrase like the one below – Samuel Clayton (Gentleman) – I’d like something like that carved upon my stone, maybe ‘weird gentleman’ or ‘work shy fop’ or something?

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Rumour has it that these stones inspired Daniel Defoe, or at least gave him his characters  name (Defoe did indeed visit the town), but given that ‘Robinson Crusoe’ was published in 1719, I’m not convinced. It must be quite nice for the Cruso family who still live in the town though!

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The oak beam roof is adorned with large carved angels, all different, many with musical instruments, and local trade tools. The stained glass windows demanded a colour shot which doesn’t quite fit in here, but it seemed churlish to show it in black and white…


So I’ll leave you with a skull – another subject I am rather partial to. This one is particularly elegant and just a little but on the grim side…


Design, ephemera

Beermattery #5


Further foraging in my fathers beermat collection has produced another collection, this time focussing not on drinks, but the places that they’re from (with one exception!)  We’ll start with a single colour one sided mat from the Sheaf View, a place where I’ve spent many lost evenings, long before it became the splendid real ale pub which it is now!  I’m also pleased to say is still going strong!

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The next one is the real odd one out, because it’s not from a pub (unless I have been mislead!) Its nice to think that one had a coaster to place one’s brown ale during the service!


This one’s my favourite, not least because I remember when it was still called the Fiesta, but because of its many alter egos over the years! But also for the two Sheffield acts on the cabaret – Marti Cain (who won the talent show New Faeces* in 1975, beating Lenny henry and Victoria Wood) along with local funnyman Bobby Knutt (catchphrase “Eyup Knutty!) who is now probably more well known for his acting roles in Emmerdale and Coronation Street. By ‘eck, thi don’t meckum like that numoor!


And I’ll leave you with something a little more exotic than a 1970’s northern nite club…

More beermattery next time…

*New Faces was the forerunner to all this x-factor nonsense, and just like the modern shows, a few winners became famous and the rest didn’t, although I do have a vague recollection of seeing an advertisement at Butlins in Skegness during the summer season in 1982 for someone called Dougie ‘He’s Funny’ Fanshawe (2nd runner-up, New Faces 1977)
Show business; its a funny old game…




For I have known them all already, known them all: 
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons, 
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;

I’m all Prufrocked out now.

Design, ephemera

Beermattery #4

Further foraging in my fathers beermat collection has produced another collection, or rather, a collection of a collection! This time it’s Inde Coope’s Burton Ale in the spotlight. They appeared to have produced a number of different collectors series of beermats over the years, and this is an incomplete set celebrating Traditional Crafts…


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My Dad liked collecting different sets of mats and was particularly pleased when he completed them – unfortunately, this one is not quite there,  but there are other sets in his collection and I will definitely be featuring them all at some point!

More beermattery next time…