Roy Gardner’s Sales Tickets
One shilling by Roy Gardner
Paul Gardner, the current incumbent and fourth generation in Spitalfields oldest family business, Gardners’ Market Sundriesmen in Commercial St, was just thirteen when his father Roy died in 1968. So Paul’s mother ran the shop for four years until 1972 when Paul left school and he took over next day – running the business until now without a day off.
In the shop, Paul found these intricate designs of numbers and lettering that his father made for sales tickets and grocers’ signs which, in their accomplishment, express something of his father’s well-balanced and painstaking nature.
At one time, Roy bought small blackboard signs, that were used by greengrocers to price their stock in chalk, from Mr Patson in Artillery Lane. Mr Patson sliced the tickets out of hardboard, cut up motorcycle spokes to make the pins and then riveted the pins to the boards before painting them with blackboard paint.
In the same practical spirit of do-it-yourself, Roy bought a machine for silk-screen printing his own sales tickets from designs that he worked up in the shop in his spare time, while waiting for customers. Numbers were drawn freehand onto pencil grids and words were carefully stencilled onto card. From these original designs, Roy made screens and printed onto blank “Ivorine” plastic tickets from Norman Pendred Ltd who also supplied more elaborate styles of sales tickets if customers required.
Blessed with a strong sense of design, Roy was self-critical – cutting the over-statement of his one shilling and its flourish down to size to create the perfectly balanced numeral. The exuberant curves of his five and nine are particular favourites of mine. Elsewhere, Roy was inspired to more ambitious effects, such as the curved text for ”Golden Glory Toffee Apples,” and to humour, savouring the innuendo of “Don’t squeeze me until I’m yours.” Today, Paul keeps these designs along with the incomplete invoice book for 1968 which is dated to when Roy died.
No doubt knocking up these sales tickets was all in day’s work to Roy Gardner – just one of the myriad skills required by a Market Sundriesman – yet a close examination of his elegant graphic designs reveals he was also a discriminating and creative typographer.
Designs for silk-screen by Roy Gardner
The finished silk-screened signs by Roy Gardner
Pages from the Ivorine products catalogue who could supply Roy’s customers with more complex designs of sales tickets than he was able to produce.
Roy Gardner stands outside Gardners’ Market Sundriesmen in the nineteen forties – note the sales tickets on display inside the shop.
Gardners’ Market Sundriesmen, 149 Commercial St, London E1 6BJ (6:30am – 2:30pm, Monday to Friday)
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