This mammoth paper bag collection is a graphic design dream

There are collectors of all kinds. Some people collect action figures, others collect stamps or coins. But right now, we’re fascinated by what claims to be the world’s largest collection of paper bags. That’s right; it’s a bold statement. But the anonymous collector has been posting images for a while on Instagram, and they keep coming. Suffice it to say, we’re addicted.

Bags are useful things, protecting products on their journey from store to home, and they have evolved over time. Paper has long been largely replaced by plastic, now shunned for obvious environmental reasons. But bags are also fascinating (seriously, they are) as one of the most visible mediums companies can use to display their brand image. That makes this collection a treat for anyone interested in branding, graphic design, and typography, with dozens of great retro pieces from the 70s and 80s (if you’re more here for what’s trending this year, check out our guide to the hottest graphic design trends in 2022.

The @paper_bag_archive Instagram account only started posting in November last year, but it has already attracted 14,000 followers, posting on average every other day. Featured in the collection are familiar (and once familiar) names from the British high street, such as Lewis’s, Boots and WH Smith with its old orange cube logo. But we can also see gems of small local businesses, from pottery shops to butchers, as well as a host of museums and galleries.

Other highlights include a Britannia Airways sick bag, bringing back fond (but nauseating) memories of 80s family package holidays, a utilitarian British Rail takeaway food bag and a themed McDonald’s Happy Meal wrapper. by Yogi Bear.

The bags will have strong nostalgia value for anyone born before the 1990s, but they also have a lot of charm for anyone interested in graphic design. In most cases, the account owner hasn’t dated the bags, but the styles, colors, and typography make it possible to guess when each piece was used — many of them appearing to be products of their time.

A particular treat for typography fans is the Letterform bag showing the “Fonts of the Month” from March 1971. We are very intrigued by the goodies that could have been inside this bag as the paper bags for penny chew, we remember, but font bags?

It’s not the only great collection of bags we’ve seen lately, either. We’re definitely having a bag moment because we also fell in love with the new AZ Book of Record Shop bags from DJ and record store owner Johnny Trunk. That’s exactly what it says, exploring the history of UK record buying through an A-to-Z collection of 500 vintage bags from record shops big and small, also revealing brilliant designs that were perfect for their time.

Record Shop Bags AZ Book Pages

(Image credit: Fuel)

Inspired by all those retro designs? Then get to work. Check out the current best prices on Adobe’s range of creative apps below or check out our guide to the best graphic design software. You can also use some of the best free vintage and retro fonts. For more retro vibes, check out a famous logo designer’s glorious retro makeovers.

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