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40 Giftware Review May/June 2014

Gifts for men – a serious business Gifts for Men

Women have been making tongue in cheek jokes about men since time immemorial and now there’s a brilliant book - Manhood is a serious business - that captures some of the finer male characteristics by the master of social observation, Cath Tate. Packed with more than 50 vintage

photos, the images are perfectly captioned to reveal a picture of modern manhood against an old-fashioned background, proving the male of the species hasn’t changed much over the years. The importance of good gifts for men

has been increasingly recognised by the gift trade in recent years with specialist shops opening up and down the country and whole sections given over to men’s products at major trade shows.

Manhood is a very serious business Her successful business,

Cath Tate Cards originated after she produced a postcard and poster with an anti-Thatcher theme about 30 years ago. She said the poster depicted Margaret Thatcher taking a handbag from another woman and was to be found in student bedsits across the UK at the time.

Cath studied history at Cath Tate has been

producing cards for the greetings industry for more than 30 years and understands, more than most, what makes people tick and what will resonate with her customers. She said: “Women do talk about men quite a lot among themselves and I wanted to reflect that without producing a book that was too critical!” finally

become a man when you have mastered the washing


University and was a history teacher for a while before the opportunity to produce cards took over her life. Almost immediately the idea of using vintage photos took off – there was nothing else on the market like them – and Cath’s business was born on the kitchen table, like so many others in the gift industry. Based in London, Cath now runs the business with her daughter Rosie. She always

employs humour saying: “Humour is a good way of getting

across what you want to say. I think of the caption and then try and find the photo to fit.” Like many others in the business, Cath

soon found her ideas were being copied and has worked hard to stay ahead of the game while retaining her distinctive style. She was the first to come up with the idea of using old knitting pattern images and said others quickly jumped on the bandwagon. Luckily she is never short of inspiration as

friends and family continue to help source photographs from vintage fairs and junk shops. All her were all taken sometime

I was meant to lead the revolution not teach

...Men are like computers.

You never know what is going on inside...

between 1880 and 1960 – times change but people, their friendships, their little jobs and stupid mistakes remain the same, she said. Postcards are a rich source of material

with many dating from before World War 1 when there were three posts a day and the cards were almost an early email. Before

You have to take men as they are... And then go to work on them

there was widespread ownership of cameras people would use the local photographer to take family photos and then send them as postcards – anything from a new baby to birthdays and wedding celebrations. These days Cath has the benefit of

computer programmes to enhance the pictures and she admits to using modern technical wizadry ‘to tease some colour into the cheeks of those whose cheeks lost their colour some time ago’. The quotes that go with the photos come from random corners of life and usually reflect some current concern that is bugging her. And there should be more material for

a completely new project soon following the birth of her grandson Jacob earlier this year. Cath said: “He has been into the office already but I haven’t had him packing cards yet.” Manhood is a serious business is

available now at £7.99 RRP. Also in the series is Friends are cheaper than therapy and also, Older but not wiser.

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