Advertising art with African American faces
  • The lost art of cookbook advertising pamphlets
  • Nostalgic tin & paper advertising signs
  • " />
    Auction Finds

    The simple art of advertising

    Flipping through a box of newspaper display art, I was thrilled as I stopped during a walk-through at one of my favorite auction houses. I’d been a newspaper reporter and editor and reporter for years, but rarely made it to the advertising department – even though those guys were the ones who paid the bills.

    But I instantly recognized the group of display ads there at auction. These were done by artists in the advertising department for the many stores that once relied on newspapers to get the word out about their sales and merchandise. They were not the slick advertising campaigns costing millions of dollars that we see today. These felt more like mom-and-pop ads in their simplicity.

    The lot consisted of the original drawings for what was once a major department store in Philadelphia called Strawbridge & Clothier. Some were signed Gerber, and next to them were pencil and pastel drawings bearing the same name. Was Gerber an advertising artist who longed to create fine art?

    The lot consisted of ads covering all kinds of products, and most were from the early 1970s. There were numbers on the drawings that appeared to be sizes.  

    Most of these advertising artists worked in anonymity. They were not the people who have been immortalized in TV shows like “Mad Men,” where you get inside the life of character Don Draper and team in a 1960s ad agency. They lead a somewhat glamorous life, while back in some room you’ll find the ones who produce the ads.

    That’s likely what was happening inside this advertising department. This artist worked for the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, which closed down in 1982. Accompanying the lot was a Bulletin newspaper page of the finished ad (see photo below. Note the grill in the lower right corners of that photo and the one above). 

    Advertising in the media has a long history, dating back to the 18th century. Here are some interesting factoids I came across:

    The Boston News-Letter published the first newspaper advertisement in 1704, of someone seeking a buyer for an estate on Long Island.

    John Wanamaker, who owned a major department store in Philadelphia (which has closed), hired the first full-time ad copywriter in 1880.

    With a budget of $11,000, Procter & Gamble Co. first advertised Ivory soap in 1882.

    Kellogg advertised its Corn Flakes for the first time in six newspapers in 1906.

    A Long Island real estate firm bought the first radio commercials: 15 spots at $50 each in 1922.

    Radio ads eased out magazines ads in revenue in 1938.

    Volkswagen teamed up a copywriter with art director for the first time for its “Think Small” campaign in 1960.

    The ads in the lot at auction were display ads with both text and drawings (classified ads are primarily text).  A newspaper advertising department would send a salesperson out to a store like Strawbridge’s and that person would come back and hand it off to an artist, like Gerber.

    I figured that no one but me – a newspaper person – would even have any interest in the drawings at auction. I did find on the web, though, that a New York company donated its catalog of newspaper advertising art dating back to 1937 to the Newseum in Washington, which showcases and collects the history of newspapers.

    There apparently is broad interest in old newspaper display ads. And so it was at the auction. Another regular went toe-to-toe with me for them and got them for $55. She also won the bidding on the artwork for $15.  

    As I always say, you never know what people will buy at auction. Anything and everything sells.

    Tagged as: ,

    Leave a Response

    Please note: comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.

    bbc galapagos las islas que cambiaron el mundogalapagos cruise reviewsbest cruise ships galapagos islandsbest family galapagos cruisebest time to go to galapagos and machu picchubest time to go to peru and galapagosbiotech bedrijf galapagosbiotechnologiebedrijf galapagosbudget galapagos boat toursbudget galapagos cruise pricescaracteristicas de las islas galapagos antiguascaracteristicas de las islas galapagos flora y faunacaracteristicas de las islas galapagos mas antiguascaracteristicas islas antiguas galapagoscaracteristicas islas mas antiguas galapagoscelebrity cruise galapagos machu picchucelebrity cruise lines galapagos islandscelebrity cruises galapagos machu picchucelebrity cruises galapagos reviewscelebrity cruises galapagos xpeditioncelebrity xpedition galapagos 2014celebrity xpedition galapagos cancelledcelebrity xpedition galapagos cruisecelebrity xpedition galapagos cruise 2014celebrity xpedition galapagos excursionscelebrity xpedition galapagos machu picchucelebrity xpedition galapagos price