Vintage Air Mail Labels – Candian Pacific Air Lines (1940’s)

20 09 2012

When I first started to get into fountain pens, and correspondence, I became interested in how mail was originally sent.  Actually, to be specific, I was curious as to what was used before our current common envelope.  This led to a long and winding path through postal history, envelope and letter folding (see the Envelope and Letter Folding Association, or where there are a large number of ELFA folds available), wax seals, the first postage stamp in 1840, and a myriad of other things.

I joined into postcard and correspondence exchanges through the Fountain Pen Network, read blog entries about penpals – what to write, and why sometimes they disappear without a word, and joined the Letter Writers Alliance.  I joined because I enjoy their blog, like their mission statement, and because it made me feel a little less like I was crazy – finding a group of people who have this weird cross between technology, and anti-technology as a part of their lives.  Kathy and Donovan put a lot of energy into the LWA, and there have some great items available for sale, and as both free and member downloads.  I joined when I realized I was crossing paths with people I had stumbled into on-line in other places – like Cole, of Simplicity Embellished.

And while this is not meant to be a rambling plug of some of my favourite spots – it has sort of become that.  So… to the point….

One of the downloads at LWA, is a great sheet of vintage air mail labels (part way down the page).  I became interested in vintage air mail labels – not enough to collect, yet, but more than enough to pique my interest.  During my on-line perusal, I came to realize that there are an insane number of air mail labels out there – as it appears that every major airline and postal system offered air mail service at one point in time.  And I ran across some great labels.  Including a number of Canadian ones.

Canadian Pacific Air Lines Air Mail Label (40's)

One of the ones I liked best, was a 1940’s Candian Pacific label.  I like it for a number of reasons – the fact that it isn’t square like the majority of labels, the fact that it was a company started in western Canada, and because the head office is in my home town.  So I set out to reproduce the label, and give a little back.

And while I am glad I did the project, I am extremely happy to be done.  It was an embarassing reminder of how little I use vector software, and how out of practice I am.  It was also amazing how difficult it was to take what appeared to be a decent image, and to attempt to reconstruct something that was misregistered, lacking detail in the original printing, and pixelated too much to follow at times when enlarged.  I was able to reference some images of luggage tags and schedules from the period I ran across on-line to assist with getting a better feel for some of the details.  I also forgot how words begin to look ‘wrong‘ after you stare at them through 1000+ fonts, trying to find a match, or something really close, or something a little close, or something passable….  only to find when I stumbled across a better reference image it looked nothing like what was on the poorly printed lable.  In the end, I was able to get a reasonable match to the fonts, clean up the registration errors, and add better details from the other reference material.

My grand scheme had included reproducing several other Canadian labels, like the Trans Canada Airlines or Yukon Air labels, but I have opted to scale back.  Just due to time.  At some point I will forget how long this project took, and do another label, but for now… this is it.

Canadian Pacific Air Lines - Reproduction 1940's Air Mail Label

And for having made it to the end, and staying awake – the following link will download the PDF file:

  CP Airlines Air Mail Labels (1946)

I print mine on Avery 8.5 x 11″ laser printer label sheets (05165).

I hope you enjoy them.

images referenced from: