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Roy Gardner’s Sales Tickets

October 26, 2017
by the gentle author

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)

You may like to read these other stories about Gardners Market Sundriesmen

Paul Gardner, Paper Bag Seller

Paul Gardner’s Collection

At Gardners’ Market Sundriesmen

Joan Rose at Gardners’ Market Sundriesmen

James Brown at Gardners’ Market Sundriesmen

Vigil at Gardners’ Market Sundriesmen

9 Responses leave one →
  1. October 26, 2017

    The work of a more painstaking age! I thought ‘don’t squeeze me until I’m yours’ very resonant, given the current #metoo revelations.

  2. October 26, 2017

    The lettering is really professional, he did a great job. Valerie

  3. October 26, 2017

    How engaging.
    Must have been very satisfying to make & sell

  4. Philip Marriage permalink
    October 26, 2017

    To this ex-typographers eye these are simply a delight.

  5. October 26, 2017

    Wonderful graphic typography.

  6. Helen Breen permalink
    October 26, 2017

    Greetings from Boston,

    GA, interesting piece about a trade probably long passed. Signs no doubt computer generated today.

    Fun to see those hefty letters sketched out on graph paper. It was an art …

  7. October 26, 2017

    For hand drawn his rendering of Gill Sans is pretty good, especially on a curve

  8. Marcia Howard permalink
    October 26, 2017

    With such care taken over his signs, you know the goods would be top class too. Wonderful to see such a precise artistic trait

  9. October 27, 2017

    Fascinating and so of another era. Imagine how upset we’d be to see signs or labels stating ‘foreign’. It takes me back to 1960s when I was a small girl observing elderly relatives shaking their heads at labels with the words ‘made in Hong Kong’ as if the end of the world was nigh. I remember an aunt taking me to a proper grocer’s with brown paper bags, tickets like the ones Paul’s father created and assistants in brown overalls who were very subservient. It wasn’t so posh down the market but they still had signs like these.

    It is great to think the market sundries shop is still going, especially given the unfair rent rises.

    Very good hand drawn material; such neat and patient handiwork.

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