As a teenager recycling was inbuilt. Not for any altruistic reasons but because much packaging had a deposit value built into the price. Simple as that. Of course retailers and manufacturers hated the responsibility so when it became cheap enough to simply let consumers throw packaging away, out went the concept.
The deposit schemes worked in the wholesale trade as well, with packaging for transport built to be sturdy so it could survive repeated journeys. There is no better example than the beer crate; made of pine, jointed and nailed together, and designed to hold a dozen or so bottles at a time. Soft drink makers did the same. It wasn’t long before record collectors realised that – with the wire racking removed – these smaller boxes were perfect for housing 7″ singles. Second hand record shops liberated hundreds of them and mobile disco DJs also helped themselves from the backs of pubs and off-licenses. With handles either end, they were perfect for transporting racks of singles around.
In Sheffield, Violet May was the oldest and premier second hand record shop, and her shelves were full of wooden soft drink boxes, each with the category stencilled on the end. You asked to check the EMI, Pop, Tamla or Soul boxes and Violet would plonk them on the counter and keep an eye on you as you flicked through. This print is my refection on the experience.
I found some boxes I’d myself used for singles back in the 70s. After washing them down to remove cobwebs and dirt from years in a lock-up garage, I photographed the boxes square on – sides, ends and top. These images were then cut out, montaged together and angled to form an isometric view of the box. The name stencils were taken from boxes in a vintage photograph of Violet’s shop.
Needless to say, having done all this, the boxes looked too good to go back in the garage and so I’ve filled them with singles once more and thrown out the bland plastic boxes instead. They still have a metal sign on offering a 50p deposit. Today the wooden boxes have all been replaced by plastic ones …. which will not hold singles.
Please note that the grey border is NOT on the print. Prints are 70cms X 50cms. More details at the easy on the eye online shop.