Rub Down Transfers

There used to be a book shop in Glasgow called Smiths, it was a great place, old and full of wonders. Back in the 70’s a popular thing was the Letraset rub down transfer concept and Smiths had a whole range of books with pictures which you could decorate with the figures and whatnot from your sheets of included transfers as you read. I loved these books and looked forward to trips into town which always meant a wander around Smiths where if all was well I’d be allowed to pick a book, which a lot of the time would either be a Letraset book or a railway related book, I loved 1950’s diesel loco’s then and still carry a wee flame for them now.
Looking back now it was education by stealth, but if you don’t notice you’re learning it’s being presented right, knowledge shouldn’t be smeared onto youngsters like thick grey paint. Life is interesting (mostly), history is life, so making it dull must take some hard work, so well done the educational authorities.
Ach, in saying that, in high school my history teacher was good as were the topics we studied and I was fully engaged from day one to the exams.

This all came to mind because Holly keeps getting books that are just the same as my old Letraset ones, although she has more mermaids and fairies than Tommies in the mud like the one I had below (stolen from the internet, mine is long gone). The transfers are replaced by stickers though, some removable so you can keep on playing unlike the one-chance rub-downs where it was easy to leave somone’s leg still attached to the transfer sheet as the thin transfer ripped easily if not rubbed perfectly. Easy fixed with a red felt tip on the page of course.
Letraset did a bunch of Star Wars fold-out scene affairs and Doctor Who Weekly had them on the first few issues to apply to the magazine covers, the transfers were everywhere then suddenly nowhere, like a boyband of the hobby world.
Each generation thinks themselves more sophisticated than the last, but experience tells you otherwise and it’s nice to see the girl having as much fun as I did with the same sort of thing. I’ll remind her of this and more when she says “Dad, you’re so old fashioned” in times to come.

11 thoughts on “Rub Down Transfers”

  1. “Back in the seventies” God I feel really old now. I remember on pocket money day getting the superhero transfers. They never seemed to be any of the ones I had ever heard of though. I remember plenty of missing limbs too : )

  2. It used to be one of the many highlights of the annual family holiday in the 70s buying a few of the ‘rub down sticker’ books. I seem to recall a Zulu War issue sparking a lot of questions. And yes, missing limbs or heads were an integral part of the charm!

  3. I remember using them on the front of my jotters at school after i had them covered in the obligatory brown paper, or if we were feeling rich, nice flock wallpaper.

  4. Ooh, I loved Letraset when I was wee. I suspect I still would if I got my hands on one. Stickers are meh compared to scrubbing furiosly with pencil only to peel and see the foot missing. Total nostalgia attack, hats off.

  5. Ah, this brings back memories right enough. We used to “mix & match” to try to rewrite history with these things…

    I remember my “Colonel Custer” transfer book, it had a centre-page that folded out to something like A3 size to give an unpopulated “Last Stand” battlefield.

    Despite supplementing Custer’s forces with some Daleks and a load of WWII artillery pieces and tanks, he still lost to the massed ranks of the Sioux, the Cheyenne, some French Napoleonic troops and a few ships from Drake’s Armada-chasing force.

  6. We’re all remembering these both well and fondly, but they don’t seem so high on the nostalgia agenda on the internet.
    I’m having no luck on ebay either. Ach.

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