Vegetable People

In the 1870’s American manufacturers were a long step ahead of the American advertising industry. They were producing goods on a nationwide scale, but there was no national publication in which they could hawk their products. The ingenious solution to this problem was the trade card [see “Trade Cards,” AMERICAN HERITAGE , February, 1967]. With a picture on one side and some persuasive copy on the other, these cards were slipped into packages, handed out in retail stores, and mailed to customers.Read more »

The WPA’s Amazing Artistic Record Of American Design

From the winter of 1935–36 until shortly after America’s entry into World War II, hundreds of artists were engaged throughout most of the nation in compiling a graphic record of surviving artifacts from the American past. Antiques shops and old farmhouses, private collections, historical societies and museums, California missions and Shaker barns, were ransacked for evidence that would accurately and colorfully picture the story of our early arts and crafts.Read more »

Commerce Through A Looking Glass

In the early days of giveaways the pocket mirror was a handy means of promoting a product: the advertisement was on one side, the customer on the other

Who Is the Fairest of Them All? Read more »

The Beards That Made Rough-keepsie Famous

Attached to every city in America is at least one illustrious industrial name. In Detroit it is Ford. In Durham it is Duke. In Milwaukee it is Schlitz, who made “the beer that made Milwaukee famous.” In the annals of Poughkeepsie, New York, it is Smith, or rather the brothers Smith, William and Andrew, whose patronymic is recognized wherever people cough. What Gloversville has been to gloves, Meriden to silverware, and Battle Creek to breakfast cereals, Poughkeepsie has been to medicated cough candy.Read more »

Good Lord, Grandpa It All Came True

Ideas change. A thigh thought massive in 1970 was another era’s ideal, and the pinups presented here never failed to draw admiring looks from gentlemen of the 1890’s, along with a chuckle or two at the presumption of these career-minded girls. Read more »