Shelf Appeal is very fond of Barbara Jones’ illustrations. And very fond indeed of the shop that was Simpson Piccadilly and its tasty advertising. What ho, then, when I found the two combined in this delicious booklet. It celebrates Simpson’s services for visitors from overseas coming to London in 1953 to see Queen Elizabeth II being crowned. For them, the booklet tells us, there is ‘a welcome particularly warm.’
Jones’ illustrations are on the cover and just inside. Her trademark scratchy lines show the Eros fountain in Piccadilly overrun with smiling people waving union jack flags and umbrellas, the whole fronted by an improbably sized yowling cat. Jones liked her cats. Inside the front cover her people and pictures form a floor map to the Simpson shop. Nothing could make my illustration antenna happier.
The photographs of the store throughout this small booklet are intriguing, showing it furnished with 1930s luxe in the form of rounded tubular furniture and lovely Ashley Havinden rugs, dating from the opening years around 1936. But also dotted about are Scandinavian influence wooden chairs, armchairs and low splay leg tables, more suitable to 1953. An unexpected post-war jumble in such a fashionable spot.
Barbara Jones had a bumper year in 1953, she designed many Coronation things and was on a Council of Industrial Design committee for helping police Coronation souvenir quality. All of which made her an obvious choice for this Simpson booklet. I would speculate this was her only commission for Simpson. But as I didn’t know she had done this one, other treasures may yet appear.