Craft Master, famous for their Painting-By-Numbers sets, released this poster in 1969 in the wake of the Yellow Submarine. To the long list of dry transfer descriptions, already including 'rub-down', 'rub-on', 'rub-off', 'rubbits' & so on, we can now add 'put-ons'.
Their product number for this poster in a tube was 70503, & the transfer sheet serial YS-1.
Work on the Yellow Submarine film started in November 1967 & continued practically up to the premiere, which took place on 16th July 1968.
As is well-known, Letraset provided a Special Sheet of transfers, featuring the eponymous submarine in a variety of poses, to speed up the work of the animators. You can check it out here:
However, that sheet had featured none of the characters from the film, so this Craft Master product would have been a completely new set-up.
But for now, back to the first poster…
So, anyway: here's the transfer sheet YS-1. Hmmm… I wonder what "YS" could possibly stand for?
On a personal note, this was easily the most I've ever spent on transfers, obviously thanks to the rarity & the Beatles connection. I bought it from Pleasures of Past Times, in Covent Garden.
When I first saw it, I made one of my traditional foolish gaffes & emailed Paul Drummond:
"Wow! However, I'm intrigued as to why you say this is a Letraset sheet. I can't view the sheet in detail to check the text, but it looks much more like a page of stickers than rub-down transfers…"
Paul immediately replied with a photo of the 'Letraset' copyright! We chatted quite a bit, but it was another thirteen months before I could summon up the nerve to actually buy the damn thing.
At the time I thought the sheet might have been silkscreen printed on the Svecia press, but once it arrived it was clearly 1969 vintage gravure.
In 1969 Letraset were already on PR29 for 'promotional items'; GK1 (Patterson Blick Instant Picture Books) are dated 1969, but probably printed in 1968; the earliest gravure transfers were given 'K' serial numbers, so YS-1 would have been on the cusp between the 'K' & 'GK' serial numbers — consequently the uniquity of the numbering system may not have seemed outstandingly odd, since everything was in flux. Fooled me for a minute, though.
EDIT: it turned out that the second poster had a serial number of PR50. So that's inconsistent for the pair, but spot-on date-wise.
And here's the unused poster. The good news is that I'll be turning this into an online game, so you can rub down the transfers for yourselves…
…Like this! Here it is 'mocked up' — with the transfers virtually (not actually) rubbed down.
This is the best I could do to show you what the tube looked like that the poster came in; the tube is 15" x 2" x 2". These (subsequently enhanced) images were saved from a long-dead Amazon archive, with no clue as to who took them; I'm taking the unusual step of regarding this as 'fair game'.
Photos from Amazon archive
The "vital" info from the transfer sheet:
Following another trail of clues, I realised there must be a second transfer sheet, although at first it wasn't clear whether or not it came as part of the same package, which would mean two sheets & one poster in a single tube; but it seemed more likely to be a second product. Eventually, eBay Seller Daydreamer04 kindly provided photos of the second transfer sheet. They seemed to remember it may have come with a different poster, of which they may still have a copy.
I then found photographic evidence (which I can't reproduce here) of a second Craft Master tube. One tube contained "Poster Put-Ons — The Beatles", as shown above, with product number 70503 — whereas the other tube contained "Poster Put-Ons — Sergeant Pepper Band". This would account for the second sheet, as photographed by Daydreamer04.
And finally, thanks to the incredibly helpful Bill DeMartini (beatles.bill of eBay), who wasn't actually selling one but who went to find one in his stock for me, the second transfer sheet (which we now know has the reassuring serial number PR50), arrived with its poster just before Christmas 2022 — so now you can get to see BOTH Put-Ons Posters!
The transfer sheet doesn't carry over the "jigsaw puzzle" concept from YS-1, but prefers a large number of cameo figures.
Interestingly, the PR50 sheet is copyright "Craft Master Corp. 1968", whereas the YS-1 sheet is copyright "Craft Master Corporation 1969" — suggesting that the YS-1 poster might have been produced after the PR50. But this must simply have been an admin dating glitch, because as you can see below, the PR50 poster's product number is 70504 — whereas the poster for YS-1 has 70503. — YS-1 for the win!
…But here are all the transfer figures, 'virtually' applied to the poster. There's an added complication here (of course!): the transfer figures are numbered from 1 to 69, but figures 5, 19, 20, 42, 50, 59, 61, 64 & 65 have no home to go to. There aren't enough numbers on the poster! So I've had to employ a certain amount of initiative in deciding where they look most suitable.
Picture Credit: The SPLAT Scan Archives — Daydreamer04 — beatles.bill
© Tom Vinelott 2023