Thursday, September 29, 2011

Honey Labels

Belgium, 1920s

These honey labels, mostly from Belgium, date from the 1920s onward. They are just a few of many for sale at bees-and-things.

Today starts the Jewish Year 5772. May it be a sweet one!

Belgium, early 1950s

Belgium, 1920s

Belgium 1950s

Belgium, 1930s

Netherlands, 1980s

Netherlands, 1980s

Belgium, 1930s

Belgium, 1980

Belgium, 1930s

Belgium, 1930s




Belgium, 1940s

Flemish, contemporary

German label for beeswax

Monday, September 26, 2011

Yoga Stamps

Cobra Pose

How, you may ask, do I dream up some of these posts? Well, this one I literally dreamt—as in, while I was asleep.

In my dream, I saw posters on the wall of a building that were blowups of vintage yoga postage stamps from the 1960s or 70s. When I googled “yoga stamps” the next day, I learned that it’s not exactly a popular philatelic subject. There are stamps featuring Swamis and Maharishis, but on the subject of yoga itself, I found only this series issued in India in 1991. The stamps depict four asanas (poses) rendered in a straightforward, almost clinical style. They are nothing like the stamps of my dreams, but, quietly lovely in their own right. I think they’d be cool as posters!

Bow Pose

Camel Pose

Utthita Trikonasana
Extended Triangle Pose

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

iPhone Fashion Sketches

Last week was Fashion Week in NYC and stunning models were stopping traffic everywhere. This week’s traffic choke-hold is the UN General Assembly meeting. From the ridiculous to the absurd, I’d say.

I’m finding the Brushes app for iPhone quite addicting. I still have sketches from my trip to Croatia to post, but I figured these Spring 2012 looks have a much shorter shelf life.

Marc Jacobs

Max Azria, BCBG

Oscar de la Renta

Bill Blass


Calvin Klein

Ralph Lauren

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Wasser, Gas

I was drawn to them right away—the curious primary-colored plaques affixed to the buildings in Berlin. Each was a deliberate, yet mysterious typographic composition of letters and numerals, with the occasional word “wasser” or “gas.” Was I unaware of a utilities signage project by Schwitters and Lissitzky?
International Dada Archive, Univ. of Iowa

Of course these found Merz poems actually mean something, and
Dr. Lee D. Han, a professor at the University of Tennessee, seems to have cracked the code.

Dr. Han recently visited Berlin to give a presentation about microscopic simulation and mass evacuation to a group of university transportation researchers. Scroll down to read about the puzzle he so proudly describes solving. He even provides a diagram!

From Professor Han's blog:
I’ll have to really sit down and write more about my short visit to Berlin. But one thing I want to report here is finally having time to solve this little puzzle. Basically, I had noticed these little placards on the side of the streets, on walls, and on poles with a “T” shaped marking typically in the center of the placard and with some numbers all around it. I’ve seen them in Vienna, Budapest, here in Berlin, and later in Sarajevo. I thought instinctively that they have something to do with pipelines, but never had the time to look closely. Well, this time I took the time and figured out that these are markers for the access “hole” for water, gas, hydrant, etc.

The word “Wasser” is water in German, which is not hard. But the “T” in the middle really means, I think, an access point to the water line 2.1 meters from this placard (perpendicular to the face of the placard) and 2.2 meters to the left of the placard. If the access point is to the right, the number would be written on the right side. If it is behind the placard, which is not uncommon, the number 2.1 would be negative.

I think this system must have been around for many a decade and widely employed in many European countries. As utility workers walk or even drive around, they can see these placards and easily identify the access points. There must also be a nice GIS-based asset management system with everyone of these access points inventoried, which is not hard as they are already clearly identified.

I’m sure the simple rules of these placards are common knowledge among utility workers. But it is still interesting to figure them out. As it turned out, everyone I asked along my trip acknowledged that not only they didn’t know what these placards are or how they work, but most of them never even noticed these little colorful markers. Perhaps somewhere on Wikipedia or a website in some other language all this is explained in detail. But this is where you read about it first. :)

Danke Herr Professor!

Sunday, September 11, 2011


During my trip to Berlin in August, I visited with infographics specialist Jan Schwochow. Jan and his talented team at Golden Section Graphics had just recently published Volume 2 of his wildly ambitious, independently and beautifully produced magazine, IN GRAPHICS.

While the sections of the 90-page issue are completely familiar-- politics, technology, sports, entertainment, etc., IN GRAPHICS is no ordinary magazine. Instead of running text and occasional photos or illustration, the content is displayed entirely in the form of infographics. Text is in German and English.

The cover story of Volume 2 takes on the events and aftermath of 9/11. We are first presented with a spread of front–page coverage of over a hundred publications from around the world. The six spreads that follow use diagrams, illustration, timelines, and quantitative charts to digest data and information of the last ten years. They are all thoughtfully conceived, meticulously researched and exquisitely executed.




How the terrorists prepared themselves for the attacks in the USA




In addition to his technical expertise and years of experience, Jan has a great knowledge and interest in information graphics history. His ability to incorporate design solutions from the past, with cutting edge visualization techniques, creates work that is rich and sophisticated with plenty of fresh visualization surprises.

Even the contents page is a visual display.

Both volumes of IN GRAPHICS are available for shipping throughout Europe from For shipping to the U.S., you can order from the Golden Section online shop directly.

A handful of bookstores in Germany, Amsterdam, London and Vienna also sell the magazines. If you are traveling in Europe, I suggest you use this list as a general resource for the coolest bookstores there are.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Back to School, Estonian Style

September 1939

Today is the first day of school for 1.1 million New York City public school kids. Why, the air positively crackles with the familiar strains of dread, excitement, anxiety, and relief (for parents).

Above, the September 1939 cover of the weekly Estonian picture magazine, Nadal Pildis. Just imagine the current events classes those kids had that year!

Below, issues depicting the summer fun we leave behind.


August 1937

July 1939

July 1939 (inside)


1939 (inside)

September 1937

July 1937

Covers are all from a collection of Vintage Estonian Magazines created by "katytarkpea," on scribd.
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