Old Sheffield trademarks exhumed for t-shirt design

Two years ago a book of old trademarks, once used by the Company of Cutlers of Hallamshire was picked up in a vintage store by Sheffield-based design and publishing agency Article Works, which has now produced a set of t-shirts based on what it calls ‘the graphic language of British Industry.’

Project Trade mark by Article Works
Project Trade mark by Article Works

The book was dated 1953 and most of the companies it references no longer exist.

Each company is stamped with an expired trademark, three of which have been extrapolated to form runs of limited edition t-shirts; just 33 of each.

Project Trade mark by Article Works
Project Trade mark by Article Works

Article Works says, ‘This rare book turned out to be a graphical treasure trove. It was full of hundreds of arcane symbols used to market steel products. Victorian appropriations of orientalism, hieroglyphics, exotic animals and visual puns, all catalogued by type and company.

‘We wanted to bring this period of industrial design back to life. Project Trade mark is a celebration of the images used to identify, sell, market and distinguish cutlery, files, saws, bars, steel and knives.

Project Trade mark by Article Works
Project Trade mark by Article Works

Each one has been researched by rifling through archives, address books and business directories, according to Article Works, which is looking ‘to piece together the stories of these forgotten companies, and the people who made them,’ it says.

The history of each company trademark is detailed on the Project Trade Mark site, where you can purchase each design for £25. 

Project Trade mark by Article Works
Project Trade mark by Article Works

It’s an ongoing project and more trademarks are to be turned into t-shirts. They may form part of an exhibition Article Works is developing on the graphic design history of Sheffield industry, which is planned for 2013.

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