Monday 13 August 2007
Swan Vestas, the Smoker’s Match
The Swan Vestas matchbox is a classic example of a design that has been subjected to a long sequence of minor amendments calculated to update without radically departing from the original. These examples come more or less at random and illustrate how the pack appeared before the war and in the 1970’s.
The ad comes from Cassell’s Magazine in 1928 and has the virtue of being simple and uncomplicated. There is a directness about it which can be seen in the work of Tom Purvis. What it lacks, sadly, is the manic exuberance which an artist of the calibre of Cappiello or Mauzan would have brought to the image of the swan.
The detail from a poster was photographed in Sheffield in about 1990 and comes from what was a rather sophisticated campaign for such a humble product featuring Hollywood stars of the Golden Age brandishing boxes of Swan Vestas. The brand name in recent years has wandered across a wider product range and can be found on cigarette papers and lighter fuel.