We are grateful to John for sending guest posts about the treasures of the Sayers Collection of Ocean Liner Ephemera, now being transferred to the Bodleian Libraries where it forms one of the named collections added to the John Johnson Collection.
I already had in my Ocean Liner collection a postcard of the Canadian Pacific Pavilion at the British Empire Exhibition (Figure 1) drawn by an artist whose signature is illegible. Recently, I found a booklet describing the Pavilion, with a similar cover image as the postcard, drawn by P. A. Staynes. But it also had a centrefold drawing of the beautiful interior of the Pavilion (Figure 2). Since it was a promotional item, it also carried CP advertising, including a captivating page promoting their services to the Far East (Figure 3). This ephemera is a realm beyond postcards.
So much for the Ocean Liner element. But to appreciate the significance of the Exhibition and whether CP was relatively prominent, one has to go beyond this single building at the Exhibition to look at the larger aspect of the Fair itself. At this time the British Empire of Queen Victoria’s era was relatively intact. There were rumblings of a thirst for independence in the colonies, notably Gandhi’s activities in India, but the sun hadn’t yet set on the British Empire.The Exhibition was officially opened on April 23, 1924 so the booklet would have been harvested by an Empire Exhibition visitor who was among the eventual 27 million visitors to this largest-ever event of its type to this date.
This was a landmark event, but it also flags the high commercial status of the Canadian Pacific organization.
Broadening the focus from Ocean Liner companies to the nature and extent of the Fair itself, and having come to appreciate the significance of the event, one can now place the Canadian Pacific Ocean Liner material’s British Empire Exhibition component in its proper context within the Sayers Collection.
This material, and a significant amount of other Canadian Pacific shipping ephemera such as Passenger Lists, Brochures, Menus and Cruise Activities, is contained in The Sayers Collection in the John Johnson Collection at the Bodleian Library. A vast quantity of other ocean liner ephemera capturing social, shipping, historical, and commercial information in The Sayers Collection, continues to migrate across the Atlantic to the John Johnson Collection.