Collecting vintage stickers has become a popular pastime, and the majority of collectors are on the hunt for two main types of stickers: vintage luggage labels and travel stickers. Some of those date to the 19th century. Collectors also seek stickers of the late 1970s through the mid-1980s, when variety in sticker style and design flourished due to the birth of widespread sticker collecting as a hobby.
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While early stickers required a lick or a gummy paste to stay put, a major development hit the sticker industry in 1935 when R. Stanton Avery invented a machine that could create self-adhesive labels.
A decade later, a new type of travel souvenir gained popularity due to the post-World War II popularity of automobile travel via highway. Travel decals were purchased as passengers made their way through states on road trips. Also around this time, many luggage stickers became self-adhesive.
Another boost to the sticker industry occurred as children began collecting stickers, some on strips and sheets, in the late 1970s, making sticker collecting a popular 1980s children's pastime.
Travel Stickers and Decals
Vintage luggage labels were used to mark the destination of a passenger. Whether featuring the names of airlines, hotels or countries, these labels evoke an era of glamorous travel and are highly collectable. Many luggage labels/stickers manufactured after 1950 were self-adhesive.
When international travel declined due to World War II, vintage travel decals gained popularity; they were often purchased during automobile journeys across the United States. Many of these decals were secured to their sticking spot through a water transfer process.
1970s and 1980s Stickers
The popularity of stickers from the 1970s and 1980s illustrates the undeniable power of a hobby that combines both childhood memories and collecting. Some of the most sought-after styles include fuzzy, puffy, glitter, licensed character, and scratch and sniff.
Fuzzy stickers from such companies as Great Seven and Sandylion featured selections with a softly textured feel. They depicted both furry creatures and non-fuzzy items, such as firetrucks.
With their raised surfaces and colourful designs, puffy stickers seem to jump from their adhesive backings. Glitter stickers, manufactured by companies such as Sticca Graphics, are eye-catching with their sparkle and often appeared as hearts, stars and rainbows.
Licensed character stickers have particular sentimental value for sticker lovers because they are often tied to cartoons, movies and action figures that may hold a special place in a collector's heart.
Some of the most popular finds with collectors, scratch-and-sniff stickers release a fragrance when their surface is rubbed. Selections feature smiling characters, such as a pickle or bin of popcorn.
Storage and Display
Many collectors keep sticker albums, which store their treasures in book form. Stickers can be adhered directly to album pages or left on their original paper backing for preservation purposes and then carefully attached to an album page.
Pages are often laminated or made from other sticker-friendly material such as wax, which allows for smooth sticker removal and repositioning. Some sellers offer customers the option to purchase entire vintage albums filled with handpicked items from the past.
Many collectors purchase stickers online, where they are sold individually, in strips or on sheets. Some vintage travel stickers are under £6, while others start in the £13 range and increase in price based on rarity and condition. Many vintage travel decals are under £6. (All prices are for 2010.)
A large number of reproduction travel stickers are for sale; taking the time to read descriptions closely is worth the extra effort, as is contacting the seller when any doubt exists about a sticker's age or authenticity.
Stickers from the 1970s and 1980s are often under £6, with many 1980s stickers available for a few dollars apiece. Collectors also may find groups, or lots, of stickers for sale at prices such as £9 or £19 for the bunch.
Whether celebrating childhood nostalgia or indulging in a fascination with a past era, sticker collectors are united in their desire to hunt, seek and find the small pieces of history called stickers.
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