Vintage Laudanum Poster… Not Really

If you peruse the internet for vintage posters and advertising, especially if you try to dive into the world of vintage medicine, you will run into this poster quite frequently.  It’s a wonderful poster, but a lot of folks seem to be under the impression that it’s a vintage ad for laudanum.  I suppose that’s a credit to its design and execution and to the research that went into it, but it is no way vintage, nor an ad for laudanum, and it was never intended to be taken as such.

Even a close look at the poster should tip you off.  If the $10 price isn’t enough to suggest historical incompatibility (that would be the rough equivalent of $220+, more than any household staple), the reference to upper case, small caps, and specials should certainly point you to a purpose for the poster other than promoting a take-home tincture of alcohol and opium.

This “poster” is a demonstration piece for Carl Rylatt’s incredible font, laudanum.  The font certainly draws inspiration from those vintage elements from 19th century posters and laudanum labels, but it is a design that appears to date from closer to 2012. The demonstrations are amazing, and that poster image isn’t the only one I’ve seen hastily associated with authentic vintage pieces.

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Interestingly, most of the time, the original source isn’t too many steps removed from the sources where you will find these images tagged as historical articles from a time when opiates were considered an appropriate nightcap and the only concern was with their abuse, not their availability.

In this case, there isn’t a lot of research required to figure out that these aren’t historical.  This is more a lesson in slowing down and looking at what you have in front of you.


p.s. I’m probably going to buy this font.  I really do like it.


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