Face to face

BP booklet by Maurice Laban

This booklet is a Conversation Guide from BP, for the motorist on his or her travels. The driver who may have had a question about a chassis, a tyre pump, something to buy at a BP service station or a speedometer, could reach within. Upon reaching their hotel, those who might want a second pillow, some bandaging material, stamps, a roll film or a page boy, could find just the right words to make themselves understood. Translated in to 12 languages.

How could anyone resist taking this booklet on their travels? Such a grand cover would surpass conversational endeavours and language barriers. And open the right doors without need for words.

Those faces are the work of Maurice Laban, a little known commercial artist of rather large talent. The chap at the BP Archive hasn’t got a copy of this particular booklet and was unable to help with specific dates. But he did tell me the nice windmill logo on the cover – for the BP Touring Service – started in the mid-1950s and continued through the 1960s. This booklet is, I think, c1960. Ascertained from a number on the inside cover – a method I often use to date things, as do the BP Archive, they tell me.

I like the clichés in this illustration. They all look so darn happy to be representing their countries. Well, and why wouldn’t they in those hats? Maurice Laban illustrated some other nice travel things that have proliferated around the web, yet not led to anything more discoverable about him. Oh, for a few hours rampaging in the stacks at the NAL again..

BP booklet Maurice Laban

11 Comments

  • Sean Sims says:

    Just found your wonderful blog…loving reading through your archive…Just love this BP piece. I esp. love the use of stringed dashed line detail, something I use in my own illustrations : http://seansimsillustration.blogspot.com/
    Look forward to reading your future posts,
    Cheers
    Sean

  • shelf appeal says:

    Which bit is the stringed dashed line detail? Thanks for your big up. I see nice illustrations on your site, too.

  • Sean Sims says:

    Hi…sorry, the ‘stringed dashed line detail’ is just the use of a dotted line in the illustration, something I use a lot in my own work – just me being a bit ‘poncey’ with my descriptions:-D..Sean

  • shelf appeal says:

    No it’s nice to learn the correct description for thinks. And Shelf Appeal and ‘poncey’ go well together, too.

  • Mark says:

    Another little cracker. I like the bobble-hatted Scandinavian best. It has the same stretched-landscape format as the 50s ‘Night and Day’ London guide books with the great Osbert Lancaster cover. (and those NAL pangs are getting to you, that’s the 2nd time you’ve mentioned it recently).

  • shelf appeal says:

    I think my trip to the London Library made me very nostalgic for the NAL. As it had rows of metal shelves in the eaves and was quiet and smelt of old books. Heaven, really.

  • Mark says:

    I’m quiet and smell of old books (on a good day). Actually, after seeing yours and commenting on the landscape format, I had to check my shelves. I not long ago got a ‘Whats Where in London’ guide c1961, with a very uncharacteristic Abram Games cover, but same landscape format, it’s also a BP publication. Kismet.

  • shelf appeal says:

    Send me a pic. Do.

  • Mark says:

    Will do, but don’t be too excited, it’s nowhere near as nice as yours. Nice contents though; a variant on the aforementioned London Night and Day, ie, where to get tattooed, buy some taxidermy and drink a cappuccino at 2am (that last’d probably have been at the New Piccadilly)

  • shelf appeal says:

    Ahh, Night and Day. I have that Osbert one. Lovely thing.

  • Keith Laban says:

    “Maurice Laban illustrated some other nice travel things that have proliferated around the web, yet not led to anything more discoverable about him.”

    What would you like to know?

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