1960s Soviet tear-off calendars are a treasure trove of graphic design

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/10/05/1960s-soviet-tear-off-calendars-are-a-treasure-trove-of-graphic-design.html


This is indeed wonderful. I’ve seen these same designs in large format posters but never in miniature as small calendars. There might be some culture clashes between leaders of Russia and the U.S., but the people of both countries make the nicest graphics.

I have a few posters that were printed in threes, so an entire printer sheet used up on a third of each image. They were meant to be merged into one large image, glued onto walls. Wonderful colors, illustration, and shapes.

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I saw a lot of Soviet publications during the Cold War decades and I was always surprised by the lousy paper and indifferent print jobs on all but the highest-ticket items. The paper was always one or two weights too thin, so the ink from the other side showed through. So did the impression of the type if the book was printed by letterpress. I got the impression they either had chronic shortages of decent paper or they went for the cheapest production cost, quality be damned.

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Interesting that the “lunar lander” pictured seems to be a variation of the early cough von Braun designed NASA lander;


So I went to the google doc to view some more and idly wondered if one of them was from my birthday, so I typed the month into Translate to see what it would look like in Russian, and the very first image is in fact my birthday! Not my first birthday, mind you, but but a few years later. But still very cool and a little spooky, ты не думаешь?


Soviet era spacecraft imagery was quite diverse. Some illustrators created their own designs, of course, but you’ll also see a lot of Collier’s designs along with many from Fred L. Wolff’'s illustrations for Martin Caidin’s Worlds in Space (1954) and still others from the British Interplanetary Society… To be fair, it wasn’t just Soviet illustrators who used the Collier’s designs. The 3-stage “Von Braun rocket” with its donut-shaped space station was the international vision of how spacecraft would look well into the 1960s.


Fascinating stuff.

To paraphrase my tweets to Mark about these:

That kind of ephemera can help define a childhood, but they evaporate away after a while; trashed or in their case used as bum wipes.

Now remembering the “My Weekly Reader” kid-news-zines of my elementary school years. Were they ever archived? Likely not considered worth saving.

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Yeah. I’m an Esperantist and so own a lot of books from various Eastern European countries where (post Stalin who hated Esperanto and sent Esperantists to the gulag) Esperanto was encouraged. The Cold War era books in Esperanto from the Eastern Bloc tend to be extremely poorly printed and bound (often newsprint between thin cardboard) and I don’t think this was unique to the books in Esperanto.


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