A Collector’s Handwritten Labels

Our good friend Colin was a true eccentric, a collector of all sorts of things, predominantly tools and an incorrigible hoarder. He could be frustrating but also very kind; he was both highly intelligent and sometimes totally without common sense! For instance, he once wrote to a well-known department store to complain about the quality of their bed sheets which had torn when he had gone to bed in his boots!

Colin had the most beautiful handwriting and he liked to label his finds with brown luggage labels upon which he would describe where he got the item, who sold it to him, a description of its purpose, a comment as to its suitability for this purpose and any other details. Colin’s knowledge was wide-ranging and detailed; it was gleaned from books, articles and from years of conversations with interesting people across all walks of life. He liked to talk and it could be difficult to get a word in edgeways.

His background was in commercial printing, illustration and graphic design. Colin was appreciative of what he saw as “good design” and fiercely dismissive of things which didn’t meet his exacting standards. Colin helped my husband to collect some equipment from a school, among which was a discarded wooden box which he labelled: “typical of the poor standard of work being produced in college nowadays!” He was however, also very concerned with the wellbeing of those he taught and he kept up with a number of his former students.

Since his death, Colin’s wide-ranging collections are being dispersed and people all over England and beyond have come to recognise and appreciate his beautiful quirky labels.


Colin Maughan 1938 – 2019