Carbon Paper

In the course of writing about typewriters and other obsolete technologies, I wrote a blog on the various duplication options in the typewriter era, including carbon paper. And now I have my very own package of carbon paper.

Photo of the front of a package of carbon paper, made by Carters. Most of the package is a listing of typewriter ribbons available from the company, and there's also a Special Offer for a free planter, directing people to the back.

The company saw no need to use the package to promote the capabilities of the product everyone knew what carbon paper was for. Nor did they promote the virtues of their brand. I suppose one carbon paper is very much like another. Instead, they wanted the users to also buy their typewriter ribbons. Since typists would be reaching for this package regularly, it’s a good place to promote ribbons.

Twelve sheets may not seem like a lot, but a single carbon could be used for multiple letters. Like a typewriter ribbon, it fades gradually.

The paper is more-or-less as I remember, except for the corner notches. I’m not sure if those were common, or unique to this brand. My guess is the notches made it easier to separate the paper sheets from the carbon sheets.

Two sheets of carbon paper. One is carbon side up, and the other is backing side up. The backing side has the Carter's Inks logo.
The business side, left, and the side that would face the typist, right (under the top sheet of paper).

Check out the special offer on the back:

An offer to purchase a small clear plastic plant planter, normally two dollars, for one dollar, with the text about how it can be used to start shoots or display small flowers. There's a coupon to mail in. The offer expired June 30, 1979.
Please note that the offer has expired (which tell us this package is from around 1978).

I can only speculate about why a small plastic planter at 50% off was a bonus for purchasing a package of carbon paper, and my speculation is that someone thought secretaries looked forward to taking home cuttings of the office plants.

As for The Carter’s Ink Company, the brand is still used for stamp pads and related items. The brand, then part of Dennison, is now part of the office supplies giant Avery, which in turn is part of the massive CCL Industries, making labels, packaging, and anything related to that. While I may mock their old carbon paper sales techniques, I suppose they suppose they worked.

By trc

Freelance writer, freelance editor, web consultant, and film studies scholar.

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