Late yesterday afternoon, more than a half-dozen students from just down the street at the Miami Ad School came for a guided tour of the galleries with our Curator, Marianne Lamonaca, and an introduction to the library holdings. Before bringing the students inside our main reading room to peruse a display of the work of Bill Bradley and Herbert Bayer, Associate Librarian Nicolae Harsanyi provided them with additional background information on the exhibit he put together in our lobby, Wine, Bubbly, and Their Merchants. What follows is his report on that tour.


One of the traditional advertising strategies is to associate women with the marketed product.  To illustrate this I drew the attention of the students to the objects on view in the first glass display case of the exhibition: advertisements for champagne.  Due to its higher cost of production, champagne was associated with the lifestyle of the well-to-do, and was marketed as a way to seduce women.  The early visual marketing of sparkling wines reflects this mentality.  The public’s attention is attracted by the image of a champagne bottle with its customary shiny foil wrapped over the cork and its wire retainer.  Sparkling wines, originally produced in the Champagne region of France, came to be imitated by numerous wineries of the world.  (In 1985 the term “champagne” was recognized as an original brand. Since then its use has been restricted to products coming from that French region and is strictly enforced in the countries of the European Union.)

At the end of the nineteenth century the sparkling wines originating from the state of New York rivaled those produced in California. The Pleasant Valley Wine Company, established in 1860 in the small town of Hammondsport, NY, is designated as U.S. Bonded Winery #1.


On its advertising cards, a wine merchant from New York City, A. Werner & Co., featured Lady Liberty with a champagne glass in her hand, thus adding a buxom patriotic message to the more ordinary commercial one.

Hungary became the second largest producer of sparkling wine in Europe by the end of the nineteenth century.  Based in a neighborhood of Budapest,  Törley became the official supplier of the Viennese imperial court.  Törley’s greatest competitor was Littke, a winery located at Pécs, in the south of Hungary.  (Both brands are still in existence today.)  The advertisements shown below were printed on the back of blank pages (Hung.  számoló cédula), gathered in tear-off pads, and used by sales clerks to calculate customers’ expenses.  (A similar practice today is the use of advertisements or coupons printed on the back of cash register receipts in some supermarkets.)


The diversification of sparkling wine bottles available from glass manufacturers allowed customers to indulge in smaller quantities of the beverage rather than the contents of a traditional format champagne bottle. In this image the lady prefers quarter liter bottles to 330 milliliter ones.

Sometimes cultural or historical references were used by merchants to appeal to the eyes and palate of their prospective buyers.  In its design, this label used by J. Ramos Ruiz & Cia., (a wine merchant from Buenos Aires), recalls Miguel Cervantes’ masterpiece, Don Quixote: the image of the Knight of Sad Countenance is complemented by the name and portrait of his beloved Dulcinea del Toboso (notice also the similarity in rhythm and rhyme with the name of the wine – Dulcinea Delicioso).

On the label attached to bottles of Port wine, another wine merchant from Buenos Aires, Mateo Fortea, appeals to the republican sentiments of Latin Americans: the date of October 4, 1910, inscribed on and below the Portuguese flag, is a reminder of the day when a coup d’etat brought the monarchy to an end in Portugal, the country being proclaimed a Republic the next day.

Maps were also used to draw attention to wines originating from a specific wine-growing region.  Here is a map of the main vineyards of the canton of Vaud, in Switzerland, a country whose fame derives from more widely known economic activities and products:

For information about the advertising employed by the French company, Nicolas, see my earlier blog post:  Thanks to the work of Digital Library Specialist David Almeida, a virtual version of the entire display can be seen at the following web address:

~ by "The Chief" on April 27, 2012.

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