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Generic labels are in a class of their own and some are so very interesting that they do deserve specific consideration. They are designs used, not by a single hotel, but shared by a number of them. True generics are designs that were, either sold from catalogue by printers to hotel owners, or then printed at the expense of a local syndicate to promote tourism. These last ones refer to a specific location and usually depict a tasteful local attraction or panorama and have a white area for the overprinting of the name of the hotel (see, left and right, a high quality generic by Imbert of Grasse).
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True generics are often the mark of middle to low class hotels and boardinghouses. Palace hotels, fiercely proud of their distinctive identities, would not use labels that were not theirs alone, except in particularly difficult times (for instance, just after the two World Wars or during the lean years after the Wall Street crash) when some are known to have accepted generics as a means to cut costs.

Still classifiable as generics are label designs shared by hotels under the same ownership or otherwise closely related, like the three examples at left. The best known (and probably best loved) generic of this type is a label used in the 1930s by a group of six South American hotels that shows a stylized Deco figure of a man happily carrying a piece of hand luggage with an enormous stamp-like label with the name of the hotel on it. There are over a dozen such labels with the same general design but differing in the name of the hotel, the town,  the lettering, the shape or the size (those of you not acquainted with this ubiquitous member of any label collection may see one, for the Hotel du Nogaro, in this other text HERE). How many variations of this generic label have you in your own collection?

João Manuel Mimoso
Lisbon, Portugal; 2000-July-25
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