Get your hands on a slice of the Eastern Bloc’s art history with these vintage matchbox designs

20 June 2019
Images: Matchbloc

The charming graphic design of the Eastern Bloc is on full display in a new book showcasing the world of vintage matchboxes.

Matchbloc compiles a vast collection of miniature works of art from countries including Poland, Russia, East Germany, and Czechoslovakia, dating from the 1950s to the 1980s.

The book comes from Jane McDevitt of Maraid Design and Neal Whittington of Present & Correct, the minds behind the @matchbloc Instagram account with more than 18,000 followers.

The pair have diligently compiled more than 400 designs, encompassing styles and themes from animals and landscapes to architecture and space exploration. Despite its range and diversity, the collection comes together as a whole through its colourful graphics and mid-century aesthetic.

McDevitt began collecting matchbox labels after reading about them in her local library and becoming enamoured by their wide-ranging subject matter: “Images of power and revolution, industry and national pride were celebrated, but also featured are public service information such as health and hygiene, money saving, alcohol abuse and road safety,” she told It’s Nice That.

Among the labels offering civic advice is a Lithuanian example, where a helpful porcupine warns smokers not to leave cigarette butts burning in the woods. Others provide handy facts, such as the Russian label illustrating the distances to the Moon and Mars from Earth. Most, though, display simple graphics with little or no context ⁠— because nobody needs a reason to take in the sight of a Polish cat smoking a pipe.

Design lovers can buy the book from Present & Correct, or follow the Instagram account for updates. Because who else is going to tell you sausages taste better outdoors than a Czechoslovakian rabbit?

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