Monday, January 23, 2012

Transfers of My Youth


Now this posting is all about my youth and many readers may have similarly experienced the wonder of historical or military Letraset Action Transfers. You don't see their like anymore but from the age of six, in early seventies England, I and my brother just couldn't get enough of these booklets. The images throughout this posting are from the Patterson Blick Instant Picture Book #9 "Charge of the Light Brigade: An Instant Picture Book" first published in 1966.

Before continuing I'd like to acknowledge the efforts of Tom Vinelott and his colleagues from SPLAT (Society for the Preservation of Letraset Action Transfers) whose efforts in recording this printing phenomena of the recent past can be seen on the website action-transfers.com to which I have attached a link from this blog. Anyone caring to visit the site will see all of the Patterson Bink series and many more competing action transfer publications. It is quite the anthology and I am deeply grateful for his efforts in reacquainting me with images and memories lost.

Letraset Action Transfers, for those of you who missed out, were an extension by inventor Dai Davies of rub-down letter transfers. Pre-printed images fixed to the underside of a clear sheet could be placed over the desired point in a printed battle scene and then transferred to it by applying pressure through rubbing or scribbling over it - preferably with a slightly blunt pencil. In doing so, you could design your own images of famous battles within the limitations of the designs provided. I had many such transfer books and I believe over three years I had accumulated as many copies of Charge of the Light Brigade.
More than a simple design exercise, what made the Patterson Bink booklets so sought after by my brother and I was the written histories which came with them. Much abridged and simplified within the bounds of the booklet format, they nevertheless provided an intriguing summary of events and a level of detail which at times is surprising. Like the Ladybird histories which I collected in tandem, these booklets were an introduction to many historical military events and sparked a life long pursuit for more detailed information. Certainly, this issue #9 was typical in its effect on my imagination.
Both the author and artists for Charge of the Light Brigade: An Instant Picture Book is Dennis Knight. Curiously, my own home town library, the National Library of Australia has a copy of this booklet (published 1968).

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