Abe’s gold watch, Brooklyn Brewery Local 1, and my Macintosh 128

Local 1 Ad NY TimesWe all strive for the recognition of our labors. Some seek attribution in the hidden corners and are rarely discovered, others thrive only with more overt notice. We’ve all known designers of both stripes.

I was reading the paper this morning, yes how archaic, and a couple items, relating to different forms of attribution, connected.

As package designers we are rarely, if ever, given widespread credit for the work we do for our clients. It’s just a fact. So I have often admired the high profile designers, like Milton Glaser, who have been able not only to create wonderful work for their clients, but also create personal brands in the process, often adding value for themselves, their clients and at times even consumers.

While reading, I was struck by an example of that in a New York Times ad for two really great brews, Brooklyn Brewery Local 1 and Local 2. The ad had a significant credit line for designer Milton Glaser and Mathew Klein for the bottle photograph. Wow!

Reading further, I was struck again by an article about Lincoln’s gold pocket watch, mentioning a more covert form of attribution, recently uncovered. For years it had been rumored to contain an inscription made by a watchmaker when repairing the watch. The Smithsonian National Museum of American History recently opened the watch and sure enough there were messages scratched and scrawled all over the inside of the watch(shown below). Apparently attributed to several watch repairmen wishing for a more secretive form of authorship.

mac-lincoln-sigsLastly the scratches inside Abe’s watch reminded me of a rumor I had heard about my Macintosh 128, bought in January of 1984. The rumor was that there were signatures of all of the developers, including Steve Jobs, molded into the inside of the plastic case. I haven’t opened the computer case, the way the Smithsonian did with the watch, but the image above from the DigiBarn computer museum, shows the watch inscription next to the black and white image of the signatures that are supposed to be inside my Mac. Maybe one day I’ll take a look.

This blog promises to give credit where credit is due, and even occasionally uncovering well hidden.


Brooklyn Brewery Local Number 1 Designed by Milton Glaser

Photograph of Brooklyn Brewery Local 1 is by Matthew Klein

Photograph of Abe’s watch is from The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, who won’t tell us the name of the photographer


About Richard Shear

designer, husband, teacher, blogger, father, athlete, author, historian Richard has over 25 years of brand identity and package design experience, with a wide range of clients such as Ahold, Coca-Cola, Hasbro, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, Pernod Ricard and Procter & Gamble. He began his career working with the legendary advertising art director, and AIGA Medalist, George Lois and the British design manager Clive Chajet. In his next design management position at Lippincott & Margulies, he worked with Walter Margulies learning the complex skills of global corporate identity. He then became Creative Director and Partner at Peterson & Blyth, one of the premier brand identity and package design firms of the time. He is a founding faculty member of the Masters in Branding Program at New York’s School of Visual Arts. He publishes the blog The Package Unseen, and has been a guest lecturer at colleges including FIT, Trinity College and Tyler School of Art. He is a graduate of the Tyler School of Art at Temple University. Richard is a Board member of the AIGA MetroNorth Chapter, past President of AIGA‘s Brand Design Association, President of the Package Design Council and a member of its Board of Directors. He is a member of USA Cycling and US Rowing, a nationally ranked masters bicycle racer, and a member of The Saugatuck Rowing Club, the 2010 Masters Club National Champion.
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