Waddington's last ditch effort at Panoramas came in 1974. By now, the standard three-foot wide Panoramas were hopelessly old-fashioned, although they had always sold well, & you can see Waddington's were thinking they should create some new, up-to-date replacements.
Since the occurrence of the name "Letraset" is confined strictly to the transfer sheets (which no-one but Letraset could possibly have printed at the time), it's conceivable that Waddington's were using their own designers & wanted as little Letraset involvement as possible.
The alternative is that Letraset were using the David Clark Design Group in Bournemouth, who did most (if not all) of their design work at the time; but if so, there's still no mention either of them or of Letraset.
It also seems reasonable to guess that the failure of these new Panoramas to sell in decent quantities may have led to Waddington's washing their hands of the whole Panorama business, leaving Letraset a clear field — er… full of dirty Panorama water, or something… anyway, Letraset reclaimed their Panoramas, going as far as to reprint many of them — including these — under their own name without mention of Waddington's. So turning the tables in a clear field of dirty Panorama water.
Just to hammer home the point, here's a close-up of the back panel listing the other Waddington's transfer products. You could still get the first six Panoramas (Patrick Tilley's original five, plus "Gulliver's Travels in Lilliput"), along with the six new titles, which were:
— Shopping Scene
— Beach Scene
— Dolls House
Meanwhile, please note that as of 1974, Waddington's were still selling the old monochrome Busy Bees (some of them, at least), & the surviving members of the Character Panorama line-up.
Compare this with the later (1976) Panorama covers shown on previous pages; they say "Letraset", & there is no reference to Waddington's anywhere. Yet advertised as "other rub-down items in the Letraset range" are the six original Panoramas mentioned above, & also six Busy Bees. Apparently in their original livery (the same photo as in 1971, which was then out of date)! So Letraset are selling stock formerly distributed by Waddington's.
And although the six 1974 Panoramas are marked "Waddington's", with only a passing reference to Letraset on the actual transfer sheets, in 1977/1978 Letraset republished them as 'Giant Panoramas' (see below), but litho printed rather than gravure. The transfer sheet had to be re-done for that reason; the new serial numbers are L56.
So… any rights Waddington's had to Letraset products were returned by 1976, or — much more likely — the deal was strictly distribution only all along; &, of course, this meant that Letraset had a stock of Panoramas & Busy Bees. These were certainly long gone by 1981.
A few years ago, I said:
The Thomas Salter 1981 trade catalogue continues to display the Nature Panoramas & the Disney Panoramas, but curiously it also lists these six "Letraset Giant Panoramas" of which we've never actually seen an example in the wild. The one illustrated in their photo is "Farmyard"; we don't know the other titles, but since I was once told about a "Shopping" Panorama it may well be that they are similar themes aimed at younger children.
It looks likely that "Camping", "The Beach", "The Circus" & "Show Jumping" might make up the other titles — judging by the illustrations on the box, & previous experience of Letraset's choices of titles.
But at any rate, it's interesting that these very last Panoramas revert to such a similar format to the originals, right down to the logo & the gatefold.
Now, of course, we have more information & we can see that these "Giant Panoramas" are in fact litho reprints of the gravure 1974 Waddington's Panoramas dealt with above.
The good news is that now we have a serial number: 'Shopping' is L56/4. This suggests a date of late 1977 (or possibly early 1978), & confirms that the transfer sheet was litho printed.
1981 was the year Letraset cast Thomas Salter adrift (although not until after this catalogue was published), so if these Panoramas continued to be sold after this they might possibly have been rebranded as "Salters Action Transfers", or even simply "Action Transfers". We can only conjecture for now. Either way, by 1985 Thomas Salter were gone, & that would have been the end of Panoramas for the 20th Century.
The 'Next' link at the bottom of this page takes you to 1978, but before that you might like a little side-trip to see these six Panoramas. It'll be worth it! Just follow these links, & you'll end up back here…
Picture Credit: The SPLAT Scan Archives
© Tom Vinelott 2023