Mead & Fields

Mead & Field's (U.K.) / c. 1922

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Design: A beautiful piece of swash-underlined script for the label name, the letterforms showing similarity to a Victorian font named Crayonette, where the stress occurs on the horizontal plane rather than the vertical. The loosely-drawn stub-serif lettering in the lower segment was developed in print advertising in the early years of the century, giving birth to typefaces like Windsor and Cheltenham. All elements complement each other in terms of weight and 'colour,' or texture, and nice visual balance is achieved.

History: Label scan courtesy of music researcher and collector Bill Dean-Myatt of the U.K., who relates that this label was pasted over a Duophone record (it can faintly be seen in the background). Christmas crackers were at one time an important part of the Christmas Day celebration; when the elaborately worked paper cylinder was pulled apart, the friction of two strips of card coated with some kind of explosive material would create a loud 'bang' and a novelty item of some sort would fall out, to the great excitement of children. Thanks to Derrick Catchpole of the U.K., whose relative worked for the Mead & Fields company in London. He writes: ". . . My cousin's mother made Christmas crackers for the Mead & Field's company, being employed as an 'outworker,' that is, working from home from the autumn onwards to have them ready for the demanding Christmas period. (Prior to WWII, this work would probably have been full-time employment for her in a local factory; in 1940, all factories were placed on a war footing. In those days, the working classes never travelled far to go to work, for cars were very scarce, and within reason, employment could always be found locally.) I often saw her doing this work, and she showed me the technique of making them. However, what I do recall myself is that the Mead & Field retail shop was at the corner at 174 Old Kent Road, at the junction with East Street, in the district of Walworth, Borough of Southwark, London. It was there that she used to take each consignment of hand-made crackers (I'm not sure whether this place was a local branch of the main company, or their one and only premises). The shop sold 78 rpm records there, for at that time, over 50 years ago, 78's were the only kind being manufactured and played. I remember seeing musical instruments, novelties and party paper hats for sale, as well as Christmas crackers. I recently heard from another cousin that the Mead & Field's shop was sold to a new owner in about 1970, whose trading name was May Smith's Record Shop, and that he had seen 78 rpm record sleeves in a junk store with her name printed on them."

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