Customer to Store Clerk: Do you have Prince Albert in a can?
Store Clerk: Yes, sir, we do.
Customer: Well, you better let him out!
B T W :
A short note on the design/typography of this very well-known early 20th century tobacco brand:
Color—The red and yellow of this can was very effectively used. Red is one of the best colors to use for items that sit on shelves in stores—just check out any car magazine of today. The majority of the cars will be bright red, even if they don't come in that color. Bright yellow is pretty much the second choice, also highly visible on shelves. The yellow type really stands out on this red can, and that's exactly its mission here. I adore the way the colors have aged—I frequently use this mellow red and yellow combination in my painted striped pieces.
Type—Notice the H&J on the back of the tin. This is shorthand in type circles for "Hyphenation and Justification." Hyphenation of course refers to the way a word that doesn't fit in total on a line, is broken or hyphenated to the next line. Hyphens are usually inserted between emphasized syllables and non-emphasized syllables. The designer will choose a minimum amount of letters before the hyphenation occurs, usually three, and a minimum number of characters carried over to the next line, usually three or four although I prefer five. Justification refers to the way letters align themselves in text blocks, the intercharacter spacing as well as the space between full words. It also refers to the way a paragraph is aligned: flush left means the right side of the column is "ragged" which means each line is its own length, ending wherever the word ends, within parameters. Justified or Flush columns end in a strict line, always ending at the same column width.
It might seem like a small point, but a well-done H&J will allow the words to be read with ease and it will prevent "rivers" of white space from forming between the lines of type when the spacing is awkward. "Ragged" type will always give the words the same spacing between letters, and "flush" type will subtly change the intercharacter spacing to make the lines all the same width. Awkwardly set type will give large spaces between letters on some lines and very tight spacing between letters on some lines.
Why this dissertation of type today, lol? Check out the back of the Prince Albert tin. The main paragraph of text, set in all capitals, has three words hyphenated at the bottom, carrying over to the next line. One word is hyphenated after only two letters. I can guarantee you that on a package designed today, none of that would be done. The type would be "massaged" until the hyphenation didn't occur. or the text would be rewritten to prevent it. No word would be hyphenated after two letters either. This tin was designed in an earlier age, and it's really all the more charming because of it.
The lack of TINY type, everything that is required by law these days, is refreshingly absent as well, but I'm not advocating we go back to these simpler rules. I'm a HUGE "package reader" at the store, literally reading every word of ingredients before I buy a single item and for that, I'm glad our government has required full disclosure.