I met Dr. Lawrence Preuss several years ago, when I replied to a question about the location of a Swiss hotel that he had put on some talk area about travel and traveling. He was then beginning a collection of labels and I had not yet written my first article on the matter. A few months later he acquired a small group of labels that were someone's mementos of a trip to Europe in the 1930s. I congratulated him on a rare version of the Richter label for the Hotel Flora, in Rome, which I had not seen before. A few days later I found the label in my mailbox with his compliments. Such grand gesture, heard of through the classical writings of Greek and Latin authors of Old but never witnessed in our time, did not fail to impress me. And when I met the man, I found without surprise that Larry was indeed equal to the gesture, and with a sense of humor on the side.

When I thought of doing virtual exhibits of labels that will be uploaded for three months only, I asked Larry permission to do the first on his collection. I therefore chose 20 labels that I found extraordinary for one reason or the other and offer them today to you with my explanation of why they have caught my eye. Enjoy!

Joao-Manuel Mimoso (2003,September 20)


This label is the earliest I have seen of the fabled Tokyo Imperial. You may view most of the more recent designs in another of my pages

It was in use around 1904, but may be older by several years. The "flag-labels" of this type were favored in Japan until around 1920 and are a rather common design. But this particular label is rare and is indeed one of the prettiest examples of the Japanese flag-label.


Before the rebuilding of the Hotel Maison Rouge, in the early XX century, the Ville de Paris was the most imposing hotel in Strasbourg.

Notice that the name of the village (Strassburg i/E, meaning "Strassburg im Elsass") is written in German. That is because Alsace-Lorraine was German territory from 1870 until 1918 and the fact that this label is from that period gives it historical meaning.

The label at left, which I had not seen before, is for a very small hotel in a remote location. The design is catchy and bears a striking family resemblance with the label for the Bristol in my collection (at right). The fact that the label is one of a set makes it still more desirable!
A version of this label signed by Richter & C was once chosen by a German author as the most beautiful label in his collection. The circa 1910 design is probably by Mario Borgoni who did very similar posters for Swiss clients. Yet, the particular label at left is signed "A.Trüb & Cie". In the early XX century publicity graphics were not protected and, once done, the hotel owner could order exact clones from any printer he chose. The Trüb issue is much rarer than the original Richter edition.

This label is a superb design by Richter's artists. The earliest version is circa 1910 (right side, from my own collection). If you examine it closely you will find that the lower lettering unbalances the design and the artist's attempt at a solution by using lighter types did not help. On Larry's label at left (circa 1920s) the problem has been solved.

Those of you who said "I got that one" look again: most issues of this design name the hotel "Parker's Britannico" or "Parker's Britanique". I had never seen the version in Larry's collection before!

This label, in characteristic Borgoni style, is one of many designs that Richter did for Egypt. It may have been originally issued before WW I but this edition has likely been printed much later. It is unusual in that it lacks the name of the printer. Other Egyptian Richters have the printer's name obscured. Sometime after Mussolini came to power in 1922 his aggressive attitude towards foreign countries resulted in a bias against Italian products even before the embargo decreed by the Society of Nations in 1938. That may explain the reluctance of Egyptian hotel-owners to disclose the origin of their admired labels...
If I was to single just one label from Larry's collection, this one would surely be my choice! I knew if from an illustration in a German book -seeing the image of some unknown label always spices one's appetite for it! But coming from a small country out of the main routes made it unlikely that I would ever see one in the flesh. Well, Larry found one! The label was probably printed in the 1910s with a mixed technique occasionally used by Richter: the building was printed in offset over a lithographic ground. This system allowed a subtlety in shades of purple and orange that pure lithographic printing cannot match.

The unusual label at left is interesting for the location of the hotel and for depicting a bather in period attire.

But also because it was considered worthy of imitation in Portuguese Mozambique ( see the uninspired label at right, from my own collection).

I was licking my wounded pride after seeing a string of labels that were new to me, when this one came out. "At least I've got that one" I mused to myself... suddenly I noticed that the deliciously naïve central image was much sharper in this example than in mine, and then I saw that this one has the name of the manager in the central belt, while mine does not! All "known" labels are worth a second look!

This exceptional label is the kind that other collectors pass and I pick for a trifle in the "10 cent box" of paper dealers.

It is a very rare example of the red/black avant-garde graphics that were favored by the Bauhaus students. It is also the very best I have seen!

The fact that it comes from a Balkanic country that is rarely represented in old collections is a sort of gift on the side.


By the late 1890s gifted French and Swiss poster designers were experimenting in color when doing landscapes. They soon found that the waters of the large alpine lakes of Switzerland and France looked much more attractive in yellow or rose against green skies, than in more natural colors.

This label may seem rather modern but it certainly is not. It can be dated to before the First World War and is the result of one of those experiments that went, er... a bit too far. It may not be pretty but is highly unusual and at least its electric green was sure to grant the attention of passers-by for that brief moment when a label on a suitcase could catch the eye of onlookers. And, after all, that was its main purpose!

This superb label was the second designed for the magnificent Polana Hotel in Lorenzo Marques (capital of the former Portuguese colony of Mozambique). The hotel was owned by a South African company and they must have ordered this design from a local artist. The man decided to use as foreground a girl in a regional dress typical of North Portugal but he worked from a bad photo and mistook a stripped apron for some sort of skirt made of colored strips!! This is the first edition printed in South Africa. A later edition names the hotel in Portuguese: "HOTEL POLANA".
The label at left, from the small railway hotel in Chosen (Korea), was a surprise. I have in my collection the violet version at the right side, of which I have had at least 5 copies in recent years, but had never seen the green version kept in Larry's collection. And my neighbor's label is always prettier than my own...
This label is an example of a 1930s French Deco design for a minor hotel in Nice. The detail of the illustration is lost at this resolution but there is no denying that the style is at its best on close-ups and loses impact when applied to landscape depiction. Yet, the fine use of color in contrast with the dark frame has put this label, that I had never seen before, in my list of wants.
The label at left was chosen because of an interesting bit: the hotel was originally called "Bade & O'Connor", Bade being the French name of the German town of Baden. During W.W.I, the offending name was covered with a piece of red paper (see the labels at the right side) and after the war it was dropped altogether.
This label is one I have tried to find for a long time without success. The deco-ish design is not particularly remarkable but the hotel for which it was done was. Together with the Excelsior Regina, the Winter Palace was the pride of the heights of Cimiez, over Nice. Its demise is mentioned in one of my articles about the history of labels. The Art Nouveau lettering with the "A" over the "L" gimmick is a Richter trait and so there may be an earlier label by that printer which inspired this one.
The rare Futurism label at left is for one of three hotels of a group that are next door to each other, near the Station of Termini. The rather common but prettier label at right is for another hotel of the group. Who has the same design in different colors for the third hotel, the "Lago Maggiore"?

This label was chosen to stress a point: labels with only lettering may also be desirable!

Italian Futurism, as did Art Nouveau before it, prized hand-drawn letter types of great diversity. Here we have an example of the attractiveness that can be drawn from creative letter shapes and the use of proper colors.

Finally, I chose the label at near right. This was still another occasion when I thought I had a copy of the label myself, but something seemed different. When I fetched my copy (at far right) I confirmed that they were two entirely different labels, of which Larry's version is certainly the oldest. The fact that there are at least two, makes them all the more desirable... but I wonder why they found it necessary to reshoot? Was it to change the shape of the board? Or the girl?

The label at left has everything for it: good graphics (signed by Florestano Di Fausto); a good printer (Stab. Salomone, in Rome); and historical meaning. In fact, the island of Rhodes was part of the Ottoman Empire, after WW I became an Italian possession, and finally became Greek as a result of WW II. This label represents its Italian Period.


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