Monday, 17 January 2011

Lovely little things

Like so many pieces of printed ephemera, this little Map of London's Underground Railways is best appreciated 'in the hand'. Actually feeling the smooth texture inside, the fabric texture outside, seeing the worn creases and the flip-flop of the repeated opening and closing, the smell of ageing paper, is a delight to the printophile. I'm also intrigued by the hand drawn pencil crosses either side of Kings Cross St Pancras.

This little piece of joy was designed by Fred H Stringemore, a draughtsman for the network, this being the second edition of his design, published in January 1926. It followed MacDonald Gill's idea of 1920 to remove geographical features from the map, but not going as far as Harry Beck in 1931 with his stylisation of the lines' routes. Interestingly Stringemore's first two versions didn't include the Thames, which made a comeback in April 1926, perhaps echoing the hoo-hah in September 2009 following Boris Johnson's tweet, "Can’t believe that the Thames disappeared off the tube map whilst I was out the country! It will be reinstated." Designers - beware tampering with the Thames...