Letraset were the pioneers of rub-down instant lettering, & in consequence have had a huge influence on just about every aspect of popular culture.
In 1964 Dai Davies (the original inventor), seeking to expand the market for his Instant Lettering, hired graphic designer & illustrator Patrick Tilley to create a rub-down product for children. The initial result was Busy Bee Instant Picture Packs, followed by the even more successful Instant Picture Panoramas.
So Action Transfers (initially as "Instant Pictures") were born.
My own particular area of interest is the range of Panoramas that appeared in 1965. Letraset (later 'Waddington/Letraset') Panoramas consisted in sheets of rub-down transfers, together with three-foot folded backgrounds on which to apply them. These started with sheets of either black or white transfers, & as the technology developed, spot colours were added until eventually full-colour (CMYKW) printing emerged — which is, of course, how all modern transfers are printed. The transition from one colour to four spot colours took place in 1966; full-colour had arrived by 1968.
Other companies licensed Letraset's technology, including Waddingtons, Patterson Blick, Gillette (as Kalkitos & PrestoMagiX) & many more.
Action Transfers are ephemera, & once they've been used they're essentially rubbish & are almost always thrown away. Hardly anybody keeps their old Action Transfers; but on the other hand, if you ever do find a set, it should be very cheap — despite its rarity. Lots of the 1970s / 1980s sets do surface, usually from old unsold shop stock, but relatively few from earlier.
I decided that as there were no websites & no information available on the web, I would contact other auction bidders for Letraset products with a view to sharing information & generally helping each other out.
In consequence, the Society for the Preservation of Letraset Action Transfers formed in 2003 (although it only officially gained its name on 13th October 2004).
Anyone is welcome to join as long as they have a genuine interest in the subject. Many people who worked at Letraset or who created the original transfers have already joined, but fans & casual collectors are welcome too.
We have become hugely successful at gaining new members, finding new items, and increasing our knowledge; we started with an empty field, but SPLAT has uncovered a wealth of information (& thousands of unused sets) in just a few years.
Joining is as simple as sending us a message! Visit The Contact Page to see how. Read the FAQ on that page first, though!
Very many people deserve credit for all the help they've provided with this website & the forthcoming book; thanks to all of them. Individuals are credited where appropriate throughout the site.
All images that appear on this website are attributed, so if you would like to supply an image, please let us know what you would like your attribution to say. We can even include a link, if appropriate. Many contributors prefer to remain anonymous; that's okay as well!
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As for Letraset & Acorn's websites: sadly, they're no longer online, so we can't link to them any more.
© Tom Vinelott 2021