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vintage Canadian travel poster Allan Line Royal Mail c.1910
To and From Canada
James S. Mann
40” x 25”
A-, L

There must be thousands of shipping images in the universe of vintage graphic art. But only a few really keep you coming back, day after day.
I think our Allan Line vehicle is one of those haunting presences, and it's very worth trying to figure out. I'll start with color. The brown frame-motif for the smashing portrait is a bold move, inasmuch as blue waters and blue sky would seem to be de rigueur. What does that rather heavy element contribute here? It trips up the standard vignette, pulling us away from a nautical cliche, in favor of a tribute to the color savvy of the industrial design. Blue is but a complementary factor to that initiative; and in a flash it serves to supplant any flaccid towing the line.Moreover, that circle of surprise has elicited correspondingly audacious typography stemming from its freshness. There is a sort of rigorously contained peppiness about the slightly bulging (abundant) lettering. And that particular shade of brown brings the classic black signage into a rich harmony.

On the basis of that chromatic allure the two vignettes of the masterful conveyance that changes lives forever move into view with a modesty that only increases their aura of power. There are also the new-world red, black and white keys to the future; and in the larger vignette, the tugs and lesser crafts accentuate the marvel that is the client's superstar. The two angles shown serve to imply both sleekness and speed (in the upper image); and solid proof against disaster (in the lower image).
I could spend a really long time enjoying such classy graphic design!

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