One week ago today, Jeffrey Flemings dropped by The Wolfsonian to meet with museum director Cathy Leff. Earlier this summer, Mr. Flemings had seen Associate Librarian Nicolae Harsanyi’s exhibit of wine advertising ephemera, contacted Dr. Harsanyi, and generously donated to our rare book and special collections library a number of display cards from his own collection. Here is Dr. Harsanyi’s report:

In the first days of June, art collector and Miami Beach resident Jeffrey Flemings donated sixteen advertising display cards to the library.  They originate from France, the Netherlands, and Switzerland, and, with one exception, date from the years between the two world wars.  Being larger than advertising cards, display cards are advertisements with a hard backing, usually cardboard, made for use on a counter, in a window, or other commercial setting.

Among the display cards gifted by Jeffrey Flemings, there are traditional bi-dimensional ones, meant to be hung from a wall, others, reminiscent of medieval and Renaissance portable altars, have foldable panels at their sides, which allows them to stand upright on a flat surface, while yet others are three-dimensional, being made up of a few elements that need to be assembled to obtain the “finite” display card.  The latter often have a recess where the advertised product can be placed, so that the customers would help themselves to it, rather than using the agency of a sales person or pick it up from a shelf.

Thematically, these display cards promote goods that from a 21st century point of view can be healthy, can improve health, or can be harmful to the consumer.

With a long history in the trade of tobacco, the Netherlands and Belgium also produce numerous quality cigars of their own.  The image of a white-haired tycoon smoking and enjoying a cigar wants to convey the superior grade of the moderately priced cigar brand SIGAREN MAESTRO.

Since times immemorial, pests have been an unhealthy nuisance; owing to the progress of chemical engineering and industry in the twentieth century, many different brands of insect killers appeared on the market, not only to improve public health, but also to enhance personal comfort.

As a rule, advertisers describe beach going as a pleasurable leisure activity.  Seldom, however, the negative effects of exposure to the sun also make their way into advertising.  The Dutch language advertisement for Optraex Famel eye bath warns against the congestive disorders of the eye incurred while sunbathing:

The discomfort of heartburn can be alleviated by remedies containing a combination of bismuth and magnesium.  Pepto-Bismol is the product one would instantly think of on this side of the Atlantic.  In France, another medicine would achieve the same effect.  In the display card bellow, the use of a red plastic film in the shape of a stomach suggests the intensity of the pain:

The display card advertising a French hair cream is made up of two parts that interlock at the base, creating a space where the actual tubes of Roséfix could be inserted next to their pictorial representation:

Colman’s is generally known for its mustards, the product that established it on the British market in the nineteenth century.  However, in the twentieth century, as a sign of the company’s growth, the company went into the manufacture other foodstuffs beside condiments.  The display card below is constructed out of four different parts, which, when assembled create an impressive spatial effect.

Another interesting three-dimensional display card advertises French gingerbread.  The box carried by the delivery boy is the actual container of gingerbread cookies and is completely detachable.

Mr. Flemings’ gift of these and other display cards greatly enhances the Wolfsonian library holdings of display cards.



~ by "The Chief" on October 17, 2012.

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