P&O 180: Curator's Choice - Detail in Design

24/05/2017 12:19:40

In the second of our monthly online articles commemorating our 180th Anniversary, we will be taking a closer look at the design details of some of P&O's best loved baggage labels with Beth Ellis, Curator of Digital Collections and Web Editor.

P&O 180: Curator's Choice - Detail in Design


The first thing that attracted me to these beautifully designed labels is the vibrancy in their colour and the detail in the graphic design and this set of labels from the 1950s is one of my favourites. These six labels are designs inspired by P&Os principal routes and countries visited:


     Britain by P&O                            India by P&O                          Ceylon by P&O            



   Australia by P&O                      Japan by P&O                            USA by P&O


These label designs are lithographic prints in four colours printed on gummed paper and were used as decorative souvenir labels. Other baggage labels were used to allow stewards and ships crew to know exactly where passenger's luggage needed to be and when.

For example, this simple but elegant cabin baggage label from P&O’s PERSIA in 1902 gives the opportunity to record the berth number of the passenger. And a more decorative version of a used cabin label can be seen in this design depicting the P&O flag from a voyage by Mr R. D. Moore to Southampton on board STRATHMORE c.1935 showing his berth as no. 620.



Other instructions recorded on baggage labels were those such as ‘Wanted’, ‘Hold’ or ‘Wanted on voyage but NOT in cabin’. This referred to when certain items of luggage were required within a passenger’s cabin for a voyage and those that were not required could be stowed below decks until reaching the port that they would be needed. Traditionally a change to a summer wardrobe would have occurred when reaching warmer climates within a voyage and baggage labels would have been used to show the items needed to be swapped over to accommodate ‘dressing for the weather’.




Baggage labels could also show the stage of the voyage passengers were travelling on, seen in these colourful designs that would have later been printed on gummed-paper. Labels also showed whether travellers were 1st or Tourist class passengers.




                  Orient Line - 1st Class                                    Orient Line - Tourist Class


Find more P&O baggage labels and other printed ephemera in our collections online.









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