Beard dye, Scurvy-begone, Peg Leg Oil and other pirate products

Here Be Treasure: Pirate Products in the DAM Design Collection

Ahoy, me hearties! In honor of International Talk Like a Pirate Day (September 19) the Denver Art Museum is taking a look at some of our favorite pirate-inspired work. The AIGA Design Archives—which is part of the DAM’s architecture, design, and graphics collection—features approximately 20 ‘pirate’ supplies created by San Francisco-based Office and 826 Valencia, a nonprofit tutoring center. (Check out the slide show below to see some of the photos in our collection.)

826 Valencia, founded by writer and buccaneer Dave Eggers, created the Pirate Supply Store to help draw people into the storefront and make more people aware of 826 Valencia’s free educational programs. The proceeds from the pirate-products support their programming.

The idea behind the products was simple: what would an eighteenth-century pirate find when walking into a twenty-first-century store? Everything from the name of products to the packaging is on-theme. Some of the products include “Black Beard’s Beard Dye,” “medicine” for pirate afflictions such as gangrene and scurvy, and the perfume “Eau de Mer” (which translates to water of the sea, and is in fact water from San Francisco Bay).

The AIGA Design Archives came to the DAM in 2006 largely because of our longstanding dedication to design. It is the largest collection of contemporary American communication design in the world. The collection totals approximately 12,000 physical artifacts from all disciplines of communication design—packaging, corporate communications, brand and identity systems, typography, editorial design and illustration, and experience design, among others.

We immersed ourselves in all things pirate — from scouring the public library to touring old wooden ships. And then we conjured up an 18th century pirate walking into a 21st century store to pick up a few things.

– On the Office website
Beard extension hair for pirates
Eau de mer
Blackbeard beard dye
Gold tooth for a pirate
Seasickness pills
2 bottles of Bilge Water
pirate postcards
Pirate products created by Office for 826 Valencia
826 Valencia pirate product logo
statement about Office's collaboration with 826 Valencia in white type on black paper

Images: Office, established 2003, San Francisco, CA, 826 Valencia Pirate Products, 2008. Color prints. AIGA Design Archives: Gift of AIGA, 2010.129.10A-K

Carolyn Davidson was the 2017 summer writing intern in the marketing department at the Denver Art Museum.

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