Monday, December 2, 2013

American Billboards

Steven Heller's eloquent tribute to Dr. James Howard Fraser jogged me into revisiting The American Billboard: 100 Years (Abrams, 1991; designed by Ray Hooper), which is just one of the many projects Mr. Heller noted.  Dr. Fraser's book is a clever landscape format, with rich historical backgrounds (and with illustrations of billboards that would now be politically incorrect indeed). According to Fraser, ever since 1871, advertising industry leaders had wanted to introduce "the concept of placing a poster on a structure especially designed for it, rather than simply pasting it on a fence or the side of a building."

Dr. Fraser includes a billboard for Mail Pouch Chewing Tobacco, which Bloch Brothers Tobacco Company introduced in 1897, "and advertised it on barns and painted signs until the mid-teens [that's mid 19-teens!], when they began to put it on billboards." The shot, above, from the book shows a 1919 billboard.

I love the billboard, but I must admit I also love the painted barns, which I've photographed—often from a moving car—whenever possible.

Another wonderful find in Dr. Fraser's American Billboards is Dorothy Shepard's 1937 ad for Pabst Beer, which looks like a nod to A. M. Cassandre's Dubonnet man. Mr. Pabst, meet Monsieur Dubonnet.


norman said...

Just finished a book on dorothy and her husband, will be out in december

Beth Tondreau said...

Cool. Title of book? Publisher? Your last name? All best.