As is well-documented, Fernand Mourlot is credited in art history with the resurgence of the lithograph. During the twentieth century, artists such as Alexander Calder, Marc Chagall, Raoul Dufy, Fernand Léger, Henri Matisse, Joan Miró, and Pablo Picasso, just to name a few, began to explore the art form of lithography. Their interest came through the encouragement of the Atelier Mourlot, a Parisian printshop founded in 1852 by the Mourlot family on rue Saint-Mar in East Paris.
Originally a producer of fine wallpaper, the Atelier Mourlot became involved in the printing of illustrated portolios as well as high quality posters for the French National Museums and major foreign institutions. By 1937, Mourlot had established its reputation as the largest printer of artistic posters.
The Atelier was transformed when Fernand Mourlot (1895-1988), a graduate of the famous École Nationale des Arts Decoratifs, invited a number of twentieth century artists to learn the complexities of fine-art printing. Here they worked directly on smooth lithographic stone tablets to create original artworks, which would then be executed under the direction of master printers.
The combined genius of modern artist and master printer gave rise to unique and visually striking lithographs that appeared only as special limited editions. Reflecting energy and luminescence, the lithographs not only invoke the diligent technique and conscientiousness employed by the artists, but also the significance of the lithograph as a free-standing artistic form.
"Posters must have always existed," wrote Fernand Mourlot in his book "Twentieth Century Posters." "(They existed) in antiquity, in the form of inscriptions; laws engraved in Greek; painted announcements of theatrical performances in Rome; wood cuts in the Middle Ages; printed recruiting notices in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Indeed, posters are to be found through history. They were rarely illustrated, however, before the invention of lithography, then color lithography made it possible to give practical expression in color to the illustrated poster."
The complex lithograph process involves first drawing on a limestone or copper tablet in greasy crayon, adding a chemical called gum Arabic to preserve the forms, then adding the ink to print the colors using multiple pressings.
In his book, Fernand Mourlot creates a documented history of the artists and the process he nurtured and witnessed. "Leger was a regular visitor to our printing establishment where he made a great number of lithographs in the form of prints and illustrations," Fernand Mourlot recalled. "Beginning in October 1946, Picasso came to work at the Rue de Chabrol during a period of several months. During this period, he exhausted the possibilities of the process; he both learned and re-invented lithography." Picasso created, between 1945 and 1969, nearly four hundred lithographs at the Mourlot studio.
For the studio's one-hundred-year anniversary, Fernand Mourlot published a collection of original lithographs by Picasso, Léger, Matisse, Marino Marini, André Derain, and Miró, among others. The results of Fernand Mourlot's collaboration with these artists were so successful that more and more galleries chose Mourlot to print posters for their exhibits, known as Affiches de Peintres Lithographiées. By the mid-twentieth century, the reputation of Mourlot Frères was so respected that the words "Imprimée par Mourlot" were enough to guarantee the finest quality lithographs and demand a premium collector or auction value, worldwide.
"Conceived, brought forth, watched over and supervised by the artist himself, in an atmosphere of creative excitement, all these posters are original, living works," wrote Fernand Mourlot.
All of the gorgeous vintage lithographs in the Mourlot Posters archive were printed under the close supervision and control of the artist, a detail that adds to their allure.
You can find them all, here: The 1959 Mourlot Lithograph Poster Collection.
Period Paper has obtained an extraordinary, ultra-rare collection of original lithographs by some of the premier graphic artists of the 1950's (Many from the New York City Area). These lithographs were produced for an annual art event in the 1950's for local businesses and major corporations largely based in New York. Historically important for corporate archivists, these are extremely difficult to locate and are virtually unseen individually. The original lithographs were produced in only one edition, and included just 2,000. These lithographs are perhaps the most unique, rare, important advertising collectibles that exist for businesses and corporations.
The association that held the event, the Artist’s Equity, was founded in 1947 after seeing the need for an organization to protect American artists economically and to find a place for them in postwar America. The relief programs of the Great Depression had disappeared after World War II, but there was a sense from artists that after the war, the general public would have more appreciation and support for art since it had covered so many public buildings in murals as part of the Federal Art Project.
Unfortunately, this was not the case, and after a series of exhibitions titled “Advancing American Art”—featuring prominent artists like Georgia O’Keefe, Reginald Marsh, and Yasuo Kuniyoshi—were canceled during their tour of Europe, the art climate worsened. Newspapers projected artists as undemocratic leftist radicals that devalued traditional artistic styles. President Truman had a conservative approach to art, hated abstraction, and feared a contamination of American values, and so there was a need for American artists to band together and form a foundation to create job opportunities for themselves.
Kuniyoshi fostered the new organization, and brought together over 160 well-known artists of various schools, including Ben Shahn, William Gropper, George Biddle, Jacob Lawrence, and Max Weber. The mission of Artist’s Equity was to encourage legislation to help the fine arts, deal with problems of copyright and royalties in the new medium of television, and to establish a welfare fund for artists. To become a part of the organization, artists would have to prove that either they had a one-person show at a respected locale, or that they had been included in a major exhibition.
The first public meeting of the Artist’s Equity was held at the Museum of Modern Art on April 30, 1947. Kuniyoshi discussed the issues facing the artists and explored a 15-point program as outlined by Harry Sternberg, the program’s chairman. Art Digest noted “If a bomb had dropped on the Museum of Modern Art the evening of April 30, it would probably have set American art back a quarter century.”
The organization lasted until 1965 when tensions rose between the New York chapter and the national association, and the New York chapter split. It continues today with minor name changes, and another still thrives in Washington D. C. Today, they work on the well-being of their art members, the health hazards of artist’s materials, and contracts with dealers.
Find the entire collection here.
The number one customer-requested feature improvement for our website since its launch has been to create a more robust and detailed search capability. On February 3rd we fully implemented this feature to deliver a search experience beyond the industry standard. Yes, you would expect these features in Amazon, but rarely on a content-heavy, independent site.
Here's the detailed search experience we implemented and how it benefits you:
As I look to constantly improve the search experience for you, I welcome any feedback, suggestions, comments, and feature wishlists.
To do a search in our site, click the magnifying glass icon at the top of any page in the header.
Troy Ylitalo, President & CEO
It's February 1st. And, in truth, my heart is heavy. I suspect the majority of our 150,000 customers worldwide might not want to know much about what's behind the scenes at Period Paper. However, as the years of our business have passed, and we have evolved, and I have grown, I've learned from many of our long-time customers that the story behind the product, or collection, or business, has value. And so, I will share briefly.
If you follow our blog, you know we made major changes in the last quarter of 2015. We took a stand and removed 90% of our listings from eBay until they stop charging fees up front for listings, and implement a fee schedule that's fair like Amazon's. We want to see eBay charge fees only at the time of sales, aligning themselves with the success of a seller and buyer, defined in my mind as the time when a seller supports the needs and desires of a buyer by selling and delivering a product, exceptionally. This versus charging fees when products are launched into the marketplace.
In quarter 4 of 2015 we improved our presence on Amazon in their new collectibles and historical items marketplace and we are extremely pleased with our expanded relationship with Amazon. In addition, we launched PeriodPaper.com and we love that we can support our customers around the world with a site that delivers an exceptional browsing, viewing, and checkout experience.
However, even with our adaptations on Amazon and with our new website, the 40% decrease in eBay revenues for Period Paper in 2015 versus 2014 were devastating for us, and me. Needless to say, experiencing that sort of decrease, while paying eBay over $88,000 in fees, is unacceptable. And before I say why it's so personally devastating, yes, I believe there's a tremendous opportunity yet ahead for us to deliver what customers have asked us for, for years. And yes, I am on a mission to make it happen.
But, I feel loss right now. Members of our team—vital, critical, founding members of our team, and veterans of our business, are not currently present—people personally close to me. More than any other single event, the 40% decrease in eBay revenues is responsible for this situation—a situation I hope that can be remedied in 2016. I want these members back on our team.
So, I'm on a mission. For many years our customers have asked us for many things. We've had requests from universities, from historical decorators, from nostalgic gift-givers, and from interior designers to implement new ways to acquire and utilize our images—beyond the acquisition of originals. I am not able to share all the details right now as we are forging a new relationship to deliver what you have been asking for. This requires us to make some technological leaps, and secure the new relationships, and that requires investment, and cash.
My goal is to implement this new technology, and these new products, early in quarter 3, 2016. To make this happen we have to raise funds now. Since we don't feel it's best to go into debt to take on this mission, we are just going to focus on sales of our existing 100,000+ original items in order to invest in new technology, and ultimately replace revenues lost on eBay, so we can get our team back together, and be sustainable in this second decade of our business. We will then not only deliver the unsurpassed buyer experiences that have been a staple of our history in offering original items, but offer an entirely new catalog of related items that fulfill your requests we have received over the past decade.
While it took a host of paragraphs above to share a little of the current backstory, my focus now is really quite simple. Raise capital via sales to implement new technology and products that you, our customers, have asked about for over a decade. And, improve our company's financial position so that I can bring our team back together. I can hope for the moon and stars to align in order for this to happen, or, do my very best and hope that action, in the face of adversity, leads the way to this outcome. Likely it will take both.
I say it often, and I mean it every time—thank you.
Kindly, and gratefully,
Troy Ylitalo, President & CEO
Over the last 11 years, I have on multiple occasions been fortunate to locate, acquire, and view the original Picasso linocuts as they were so stunningly produced in 1962. Between 1958 and 1961 Picasso made many linocuts, a process that he found hugely stimulating. Picasso invented the ‘reduction’ method, progressively cutting the same linoblock for each new colour, making it impossible to take any further prints from the original plates. In 1962, in collaboration with Picasso and Galerie Louise Leiris, new linoleum plates were made at 42% of the original size, and it was from these that the prints I'm speaking of, that we recently acquired, were produced.
It has been suggested that Picasso began drawing bullfighters and bullfights as early as his pre-teen years. Back in 2008 when we acquired a special collection of lithographs produced from Picasso's most famous painting, Guernica, you could see similar illustration styles work their way into other themes of his work. At that time, rather than depict the horrors of war in detail, he mythologized them in his painting, often by referring significantly to the elements of the bullfight. In his later years, he was often the guest of honor at the weekly bullfight in Vallauris.
But it was not until he delved into the linocut medium that he developed the highly stylized form that characterizes the bullfight series of 1959. In so doing, Picasso took the ritualized combat between man and beast that is the bullfight a step further and immortalized it in this series of linocuts as the "dance of death". The series is comprised of several wonderful artworks in black and shades of brown, but this one is the most beautiful because of its striking coloration. For its creation, Picasso took the linoleum plate which he had printed in three colors (black, brown and caramel), possibly earlier that same summer's day, and pulled it again, this time using these brilliant red and yellow.
The following paragraphs come from the introduction by Wilhelm Boeck to the production and gathering of this collection (which includes the one 1958 linocut, and all of those from 1959, as produced in 1962). And, if you are interested in collecting fine works from Picasso, these are some of the most richly produced, color-accurate productions in existence of his linocuts. Again, the following paragraphs are from Boeck, mostly written in the present tense:
"The resurgence of bullfighting in Arles and Nîmes, after the war, brought back to Picasso's mind early yet astonishingly accurate memories, and these became the main theme of the linoleum cuts produced in the fall of 1959. For many years Picasso had not seen bullfights in Spain, since he scrupulously adheres to his vow not to visit that country [as long as the fascists remain in power]. The subject matter of thecorrida began again to exert its influence on the artist in the late 1940s, when he made lithographs and painted ceramics reflecting this theme. In 1954, after the town of Vallauris, France, permitted bullfights under a revised set of rules that do not allow the actual killing of the animal, the dramatic events in the arena acquired greater importance in his work. Jacqueline Roque, who entered his life at this time and became his favorite model and friend (she became Madame Picasso in 1961), was as passionate as he about bullfights; the subject became a creative obsession with Picasso. His devotion to bullfighting was further deepened in 1957 when he was commissioned to illustrate the classic work on the subject, the Tauromaquia by Pepe Illo. The world of the plaza de toros, to which the artist had gained access in his youth in exchange for drawings, was to assert itself for many years. The India ink drawings of bullfight scenes done in 1959 and 1960 bring us to the linoleum cuts, particularly since brown appears as a second color in some of the drawings, foreshadowing its later importance.
In his later years, Picasso's thoughts have dwelt more and more on his native country. His intense fondness for Spain was not reflected solely in his growing predilection for bullfights and in his occasional, somewhat playful assumption of disguises in Spanish costume; it was also a guiding force in his purchase of the Vauvenargues castle in September 1958. The austerity of the castle's historic architecture and the solitude of its wooded surroundings contributed indeed to the reawakening of youthful memories and the strengthening of the Spanish flavor of the works Picasso produced there. This character is apparent in their typical color schemes and strong contrasts....
A group of bullfight scenes...leads to renewed attempts to give aesthetic vitality to plain, unmodeled surfaces. The scene depicted is always the same: a mounted picador attacking the bull with his lance.... The formal contrasts between the figures and the background against which they stand, should be compared with the following red and yellow bullfight scene, Plate 5. The power of the latter print is generated by the balanced interplay of figures and background, in a positive-negative way. Neither figures nor background have spatial dominance; they carry their own complementary, abstract value. The highly imaginative distortions of bull, horse, and picador, permitting a clear vision of the fighting man with the cape, have been subjected to a balanced surface movement of opposing colors."
— Wilhelm Boeck
I consider us fortunate to have acquired two of these collections after a nearly seven-year absence from our collections since selling out back in 2008. Most recently these linocuts were also made available by the Goldmark Gallery in the UK where a traveling exhibition of these works took place in late 2014 where visitor's could acquire the works with the lowest priced images starting at £350 each.
Available for pre-order from December 11th to December 17th here. All orders will ship on December 18th, 2015.
Troy Ylitalo, CEO & President, Period Paper
Lucky Strikes, named so after the Gold Rush, began as a brand for chewing tobacco and evolved from there into one of the top selling cigarette brands of the 1930s— partially due to their focus on a female audience. It is estimated that only 4 out of every 1,000 diggers would ever actually strike gold, and so Lucky Strike used this vision to set themselves apart in a saturated cigarette market—the cigarette name evoked a sense of rarity— that the men who smoked the brand would become enviable and wealthy.
Many cigarette companies had tried to appeal to a female audience in the 1910s and ‘20s, though the response was lackluster. Women were hesitant to smoke—it was socially unacceptable at the time, deemed only a man’s hobby, and so tobacco companies carefully tried to persuade the general public’s view to include women. In these early advertisements, women were shown holding open cigarette boxes (never smoking them), or, in the case of a 1925 Chesterfield ad, were seen watching a man smoke with the slogan “Blow Some My Way.” One Camel advertisement from 1928 shows a woman surrounded by two men, she is not holding a cigarette (the two men are), but the slogan reads, “Personally, I Smoke for Pleasure,” implying that she is the one who is speaking.
Advertisements were gentle about the topic, but in 1929, Lucky Strike schemed to create an advertising campaign that would link female smokers with the Emancipation Movement, and they were very forthcoming about it.
The American Tobacco Company hired Edward Bernays, a successful marketer, to take on the challenge. Bernays hired ten models, and for the 1929 New York Easter Parade, dressed each of them up as a Statue of Liberty, and held cigarettes up in their hands as torches. The parade was heavily promoted in the nation’s newspapers, and seen by millions. The U.S. Tobacco Journal states that 5% of all smokers were women in 1924, 13% in 1928, and 40% by 1950.
Lucky Strike went on to create what is considered one of the most famous slogans in all of advertising history— “Reach for a Lucky Instead of a Sweet,” reminding women of the slimming benefits of tobacco smoking, and why a cigarette should be chosen first over a piece of candy. This advertising technique would be widely used when marketing cigarettes toward women until the end of the 20th century.
The decade following World War II was the biggest for the tobacco industry. Americans smoked more than they ever had before and ever have since. Cigarettes were included in soldier kits overseas, and back home people were supporting their troops and more than happy to support the purveyors of their cigarettes. In the case of Lucky Strike, a successful advertising campaign ran that swapped out the normally green label for a white one. The brand stated that the green label had “gone to war,” because the copper used to make the green label was needed for WWII—this, in reality, was actually just a tactic to appeal to a broader female audience—market studies had shown that the green wasn’t as attractive to females as the white. The ingredient used to make the green dye was actually chromium, and not copper, but Lucky Strike doctored this up a bit by presumably aiding in the war effort. Their famous slogan at the time was “L. S. M. F. T.” or “Lucky Strike Means Fine Tobacco.” The initials were used as a way to mimic Morse Code.
We carry cigarette advertisements up until the early 1970s, when health authorities worldwide warned of the side effects of smoking. It is interesting following our group of Tobacciana ads in chronological order, watching how women move from the background and into the foreground.
Collection Image Back Story - This image comes from an original 1938 illustrated ad showing Joan Crawford delivery Lucky Strike as a holiday gift. You can find the original ad here.
Image reference: The billboard image shown at the top of this post was captured high resolution from a 1925 original lithograph obtained by Period Paper depicting early Lucky Strike billboard advertising.
Hello Friends, Clients, Customers, and Subscribers —
Thank you, and Merry Christmas! No, really. This is not about promotion, it's more about sharing information with you, and simply saying thank you.
Just over six weeks ago we launched PeriodPaper.com and we asked you to support our decision to build a web presence outside of Amazon, and eBay. While it was a necessary move, with a huge up front cost for us, in fact, we were forced into this by eBay, a marketplace that has fallen out of touch with our needs. Don't get me wrong, I love eBay. I have for over a decade. And, I would gladly list every item we have for sale on eBay again. But, change would have to come. A change that every other major marketplace of interest to us embraces and practices—the elimination of up front fees, and for them to make their profit from me when they align themselves my success, strictly charging us for backend fees of items sold, only.
This is the model on Amazon where we pay 20% of the purchase price, to Amazon. The more successful we are at selling, the more Amazon profits. Seems fair, and reasonable. Up front, we pay Amazon $32.89 a month to sell on their platform. Up front, we pay eBay $5,150 to launch the same items, and $199.95 for an anchor store so that we can have our fees reduced to that $5,150 amount (otherwise, they would be even higher). Then we pay 10% in addition, on the backend to eBay. It's simply prohibitive. It's not a model that supports us creating an unsurpassed buyer experiences, which is our ultimate goal in every transaction. Something we've excelled in, as a market leader, serving now nearly 150,000 customers in over 40 countries, for over a decade with an impeccable reputation.
Further, Amazon has reached out to us over the last six months, to improve our presence and increase our exposure on their platform. We are most grateful that they value us, our reputation, and the experience we deliver to our mutual customers. As they have provided significant additional exposure for us, we have seen sales improve dramatically in their new collectibles marketplace. Their professional internal team has worked closely with us, and the results have been exceptional. While I've left off the actual $ amounts in sales shown below, here's the chart of the performance of our products on the Amazon site from 11/20/2015 through 12/20/2015:
Here is the sales performance during the exact same time period on eBay:
Perhaps the scale eBay uses and Amazon uses skews these numbers too much and therefore doesn't show the true disparity. To clarify, the total sales on eBay amounted to only 38.8% of the sales during the same time period on Amazon. Not only that, but the spikes shown at the beginning of the eBay time period were due to our internal push of our customers to eBay via our newsletter. In addition, the promotions, discounts, and shipping incentives were identical during these two time periods. In addition, while eBay sales were less than 50% of our sales on Amazon, our fees to Amazon were nearly only 50% of our fees to eBay.
It's not difficult to see why we are forced to make changes with our eBay presence. As of December 16th, we reduced our inventory in eBay from 103,000 original items to just over 50,000 and by January 1st, that number will be less than 12,500 original items. And, that's where they'll be forced to stay until the up front fees are eliminated.
Even with Amazon's exceptional performance this holiday season, and even though we look to significantly grow our business on Amazon, it still doesn't allow us to position ourselves, and brand ourselves, as the market leader that our worldwide customer base sees us as. Hence the need for our own web presence. This not to mention that there are no selling fees for us in our PeriodPaper.com marketplace.
Herein lies the need for the thank you I shared at the beginning of this post. Thank you. Thank you loyal customers, subscribers, and friends for making so many of your purchases through our website since we've launched. We are so appreciative of your support. And, it's our hearts desire to support you, your needs, your collectible wishes, your decorative desires, and your historical and valued interests for years to come. We will use the decreased cost structure in our website to provide you even better service, more exclusive collections, more one-of-a-kind finds, and more consistent lower pricing in the new year.
Thank you for contributing so meaningfully to one of the many messages of the season—'all is calm, all is bright' comes to mind at the moment.
Kindly, and gratefully,
Troy Ylitalo, President & CEO
This is our first year to embrace the holiday season with our own website. It's our desire to support our customers with a shopping experience that keeps things simple (promotionally speaking), versus the complex hoops necessary to navigate the 3rd party marketplaces we've been a part of for over a decade. Providing discounts and free shipping, in support of the gift-giving time of year, is quite complex on these other marketplaces due to the high cost structure of doing business there.
By reducing our costs and going direct to our customers in our own marketplace, we can keep this simple. Here's what's happening December 15th - December 21st. We are referring to this is our Christmas Sale 7 Day Event.
CHRISTMAS SALE 7 DAY EVENT (35% Off Everything)
TWO SPECIAL COLLECTIONS (40% Off)
A PERSONAL NOTE
I do find this time of year bittersweet. It's a bit core to my nature to love this time of year from a gift-giving point of view. My friends and family know me as a giver, or someone with the gift of giving. But, I love to seek the unusual, the meaningful, the thoughtful, and sometimes the necessary utility that would hit that special spot for those I know, and make them feel thought about, cared for, and/or appreciated. Creativity is usually at the core of how I love to give, and the items we've curated for Period Paper over the years, allow me to take on unique creative endeavors, using images of historic items, to craft the perfect one-of-a-kind gift. I'm hoping one day I can offer my personal services to help others in this creative aspect (I'm sure this seems fairly ambiguous to whomever might read this now, but more to come in the future).
But, since there's also the challenging part of this season for me, when I think about family that's no longer with me, parents that I was truly grateful for while they were on the planet (yet I wish I could go back in time and live more fully with them than I did), and other losses that life creates by nature, for all of us, there's the joy that you, our customers, bring to this time of year for me, that I look forward to, every single year. I mean this more deeply, and more genuinely, than you might expect.
For years customers have often taken the time to share with me the 'why' behind their acquisition of items during the holidays. What a piece means to a family member, gift recipient, parent, child, etc., when and item or gift was received is often my favorite. It seems like people go hunting this time of year more than any other for that something 'meaningful,'—it's like the thing you can't actually buy, or doesn't actually have a value. But, as people are doing more unique searches, for their family heritage, names, places they've traveled to, places they've lived, images of places throughout the last few centuries that perhaps they recently visited, or shared a special memory with, they just seem to find us. It happened a great deal more when our product descriptions were pushed out to Google from eBay (or perhaps I should say, when google would come in and search our descriptions). People think to search for these things in eBay only a fraction of a time versus when they're researching on Google. And with better than 15 million keywords among our 100,000 historical items, there's a lot to be found among our items that are meaningful, unique, and even one-of-a-kind, at least for the recipient.
And this was all to say, that in building and running a business for over a decade that has it's busiest time of year during the holidays, I seem to live vicariously more now through the stories our customers share, of what they find, and what it means to them or a recipient, and frankly, I'm just grateful. As the years of lean times (speaking of limited financial and time availability) continue, while running and building this business, I find I'm both living out what is important to me second-hand via those stories of our customers (on a very personal level), and I'm increasingly driven to make sure that I continue to make those opportunities happen for years to come, and in an increasing manner for our curious or nostalgic customers of the future.
Fortunately for us, history is never out of style, it just gets older. Unfortunately, at least one of those statements is also true for me. But the holidays bring the reminder, every year, that what we do, and build, and commit ourselves to, and sacrifice for, matters. Thanks for all the stories and kindnesses you share this time of year. That for sure, never gets old.
Troy Ylitalo, CEO & President, Period Paper
Bull Durham cigarettes of North Carolina were the first nationally recognized tobacco company, but Camel took the lead in popularity in 1913 with a viral advertising campaign, considered the gateway of modern advertising.
First, the R. J. Reynolds company needed to come up with a brand that would set itself apart in the saturated tobacco market. Most of the brands of the time used a Turkish tobacco blend. Advertisements of the era generally included Oriental and exotic imagery to exude something fascinating, rare, and extraordinary, hence, the logo of Camel cigarettes.
The first drawing of the camel was very cartoonish, but when the Barnum and Bailey Circus came to town in Winston, North Carolina, where the R. J. Reynolds company was stationed, a photographer went and took a photo of a one-humped camel named Old Joe. The smug looking creature was perfect for the label of the cigarette packaging.
The R. J. Reynolds company ran an advertisement campaign with their agency N. W. Ayer, with Old Joe camel and the slogan, “The Camels are Coming!” (An interesting allusion to the Book of Genesis, though we are unsure if this was a strategic one or just a coincidence). There was no mention of tobacco, nor cigarettes, nor any product whatsoever in the printed ads. Then, on the fourth day of the campaign, it was announced that Camels were a new brand of cigarette. There was a huge outpouring of support and interest from the public, and by 1915, Camel became the top-selling cigarette brand in the United States.
Reference: Both billboard images shown here were captured high resolution from 1925 original lithographs obtained by Period Paper depicting early Camel billboard advertising.
When looking at historical bicycle advertisements, not only are we seeing the development of the modern-day bike from velocipede to the safety, but we are also seeing the progression of feminism, as women recognize their freedom and find the bicycle to embody their independence. Although a seemingly strange medium, this transformation of the modern-day woman is discernible through the history of bicycle advertisements.
The oldest form of bicycle was the velocipede, or draisine, a contraption invented in 1817 by Baron Karl von Drais. It was made almost completely out of wood, weighed 48 pounds, and was foot propelled. Although rare, we sometimes carry velocipede advertisements, but, due to their scarcity, they are often snatched up almost immediately. By the 1860s, pedals had been attached to the front wheel of the velocipede, and was, in the vernacular, known as “the boneshaker” -- an obvious implication to the user’s experience on the rigid framed bicycles on the cobblestone streets of the day.
Next came the high-wheel bicycles, or the penny-farthings, of the 1870s. They featured a tall front wheel, the “penny”, and a small rear wheel, the “farthing”. These high speed bicycles were extremely dangerous. Often, riders would break both wrists while trying to break their fall (their legs often got trapped beneath the handlebars), so riding was reserved for bold young men and the well-to-do as an example of social status.
Then, in the 1880s and 1890s came the Safety Bicycle, invented by John Kemp Starley. The Safety Bicycle changed everything. As the name suggests, the bicycle was much more reliable and secure, and became a mode of transportation for not only the wealthy, but for the common people. And so begun the bicycle craze. In 1897 alone, over 2 million bikes were sold in the United States. Women began to challenge Victorian ideals, and since the restrictive dress of the corset and hoop skirt was inhibiting on a bicycle, the New Woman opted for more freeing and loose clothing. This New Woman can often be seen in the advertisements of the day, and represent the changing norms of society.
Susan B. Anthony said on the subject, “Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel…the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood.”