The situation with this Character Panorama is a little complicated. We believe it was originally produced in 1968, alongside two other reduced-size gravure Waddington/Letraset Character Panoramas: Captain Scarlet & Doctor Dolittle. Waddington's invested heavily in tie-ins to these three properties, particularly jigsaws.
The first three Character Panoramas seem to have been treated by Waddington's as one-offs, not being listed in later Waddington's trade catalogues, as all the full-size Panoramas & the Busy Bees were.
However, the earliest copies we have of Jungle Book Panoramas have had their transfers applied; consequently, we don't yet know the serial number of the first edition.
If you happen to have one of those early transfer sheets, all we would need to completely clear up this issue would be a simple photo!
Disney's "The Jungle Book" was released in the UK on the 21st March 1968 — five months after the US release, 18th October 1967. It was released even later in France: 11th December 1968.
These dates become significant because, as you will see, several Panoramas of this period shared transfers with Mako Calcoramas, produced by the French company Comano. However, unlike the others, the Jungle Book Calcorama uses different artwork from its Comano equivalent; the WADDINGTON/Letraset Jungle Book Panorama had already been printed, & instead, Letraset used the Hasbro Jungle Book Picturama artwork for the Calcorama.
This is all explained more fully on the next page, which deals with the Babar Panorama.
My best guess for the date of this Panorama is early 1968. It would have been ordered in late 1967, though, since that was the "ordering season".
In 1971 John Waddington Ltd. reissued their Panoramas with half-frame colour areas covering much of the artwork which had been visible in earlier editions (I think it's a 70s thing). So the half-frame covers are what we have to show you for now…
The first cover shown, directly below, is not even the 1971 Waddington version, but is in fact taken from the 1976 reissue (GK232/3) which Letraset produced after they had 'reclaimed' the Panorama title from Waddington. You can compare it with the 1971 cover immediately below it, & the differences are fairly minor — but significant.
What seems to have happened is that Letraset took for re-use the most easily accessible artwork (which would have been from the latest printed version, i.e., the 1971 half-frame edition) & simply eliminated any references to John Waddington Ltd.
The front covers are identical, except that where the 1971 says "WADDINGTON/Letraset" the 1976 says "Letraset".
This is mirrored by the addresses printed on the back covers (compare below & immediately above). On the 1971 Panoramas (below), the copyright text runs as follows:
Panorama dry transfers are patented GB 906934 and 959670. Other patents, and patents pending throughout the world.
© 1971 JOHN WADDINGTON LTD., Patrick Green, Woodlesford, Leeds LS26 8HG, England.
On the 1976 Panoramas (above), the equivalent text runs:
Letraset Consumer Products Limited, Kingsnorth Industrial Estate, Wotton Road, Ashford, Kent.
The other change is regarding the ranges advertised as currently available. So the front is much the same:
(The back is shown here rotated 90º for ease of reading:)
On both 1971 & 1976 versions, everything on each lower back panel is identical. Each upper back panel would also be identical, were it not for the following differences:
1) "Busy Bee assorted 12 titles" (1971)
— becomes —
"Busy Bee assorted 6 titles" (1976)
2) "Other rub-down items in the Waddington range • Panorama assorted 12 titles" (1971)
— becomes —
"Other rub-down items in the Letraset range • Panorama assorted 6 titles" (1976)
3) The picture of Junior Panoramas with the text "Junior Panorama with rub-down wand • assorted 12 titles" (1971)
— becomes —
"Super Action Heroes • Birds of Britain • Fun Doodles • Story Time Doodles • Popstar Watchits" (1976) — & no picture.
The unused background from the GK232/3 reissue is shown below, with the 1971 used background after it so you can see that the transfers are identical to the GK232/3 sheet.
You'll notice that they are strangely translucent!
Letraset printed Rotary Gravure transfers on sheets which were, when uncut, of the size known as Crown: 15" x 20" (381mm x 508mm).
Here's the GK232/3 sheet. Unlike the other three transfer sheets in the GK232 range, which have two distinct panes on their single panels, this one is undivided.
This indicates that it is a straightforward reprint of the 1968 artwork, since the 1968 Waddington's Character Panoramas provided their transfers on single undivided panels.
However, there is an interesting question which arises from this; since Gravure printing is expensive to set up, why would Letraset produce a new sheet & not simply re-use the original cylinders?
I'm sure the answer is that since four panels would fit on a single uncut sheet of Crown, it would be just as expensive to re-use existing cylinders (which would no doubt include additional, unwanted, artwork on the rest of the uncut Crown sheet) as it would be to create a new cylinder for all four GK232 Panoramas.
And in order to eliminate the text "John Waddington Ltd." from the transfer sheet, a new sheet would have been needed.
So the same artwork, but not the same cylinder; & therefore a new serial number on the sheet.
The four cut GK232 sheets, as they might fit on one uncut sheet of Crown, are shown above in simulation.
Picture Credit: The SPLAT Scan Archives, with thanks to StellarX
© Tom Vinelott 2023