Saturday, May 8, 2010

Western Electric: The Road to Health (February 1958)

This little pamphlet arrived inside a book I purchased at the local thrift store.  It is apparently one of a series put out by Western Electric - this is Volume XII, Number 2. I guess this was some kind of "Public Service" PR - it has nothing to do with any product they put out.

Western Electric on Wikipedia
Western Electric was founded in 1872.  They later became part of AT&T,  where they were responsible for manufacturing telephones for the Bell telephone conglomerate ("Ma" Bell).  Until the 1983 telephones had to be leased - many were marked "BELL SYSTEM PROPERTY—NOT FOR SALE."  On the upside, since Bell owned the phone they had to repair it for free, so they made them very dependable.  They developed Touch Tone dialing, as well as the Princess and Trimline telephone models. Western Electric was also pivotal in bringing sound to the movies, and were part owners of Bell Labs.

Western Electric was broken up during the Bell Telephone divestitures in the 1990's.

Friday, February 26, 2010

New England Life and Rowland B. Wilson

"My insurance company? New England Life of course. Why?"

This is an example of what you can learn from a page out of a magazine ...

This advertisement was from a series of print ads run by New England Life Insurance, showing a person in a potentially life-threatening situation, seemingly unaware of their predicament.  The tag line was "My insurance company? New England Life of course. Why?"  The situations were inventive, and I liked the artwork.

I had collected a series of these - sadly it seems this is the only one I still have.  Like many of the ads I saved as a kid I cut off the date and ad copy (yeah, I know!). From what I can find the campaign ran during the 1970's - I have been able to date this to before 1972, due to the North American Rockwell/Hatteras Yachts adverisement on the other side.  Rockwell sold Hatteras to AMF in 1972. (More on that ad to come).

Fortunately I did NOT cut off the artists name - Rowland B. Wilson.  So I Googled him and what did I find?

Rowland Wilson (1930-2005) had been a cartoonist for The New Yorker and Playboy Magazine; worked as an animator for TV, including Schoolhouse Rock; did pre-production design for Disney including Little Mermaid, Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules and Tarzan; and had mentored Tim Burton!

A list of his accomplishments can be found in his obituary, here.

All this from a 40-year-old magazine advertisement.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Volkswagen Station Wagon Advertisement "They Laughed" (c. 1966)

(click on image or link to enlarge)

Volkswagen put out a famous series of advertisements in the 1960's to popularize their products; they usually had an 'underdog' tone like this one.  Based on a Web search I believe this came out about 1966.

I collected advertisements when I was a kid, usually from Time Magazine (which we subscribed to).  I didn't archive them correctly - they have no dates and sometimes I cut off the text of the ad. Some are glued to sheets of paper like this one.  Yet somehow a few have survived. 

Friday, January 29, 2010

Item: Abilene City Government Flier, circa 1960

(click for larger image)

This piece came to me inside a book that I had purchased, it was probably being used as a bookmark. I often purchase books in lots, and have found some interesting things between the pages!

It is a small piece, about 3 inches by 5 inches.  The front lists some facts about Abilene city government, the location of city offices, and a nice bar graph showing the trends in tax rates for the decade 1950 to 1960.

On the back is a phone directory of city offices. Note that the telephone numbers all start with 'OR'. This is from the old telephone exchange naming system (as a kid my phone number was HOme 5-5654). I found out that the OR corresponds to the ORchard exchange in Abilene.

If you want to find out more about the old alpha telephone exchanges, a great site is The Telephone Exchange Name Project.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Why Virtual Ephemera?

Ephemera: "the minor transient documents of everyday life." - Maurice Rickards

In this day of CD's and DVD's and other "permanent" forms of media, who cares about some slips of paper or cardboard left in the bottom of grandma's trunk or stuck between the pages of a book?  And perhaps more importantly, why should we care?

To the first question, obviously I do.  And so do a growing number of museums, libraries, and other repositories of our written history.

The reason "why" is that they are a part of our history.  They help portray the history that is most often left out of our history books - not the stories of grand events and famous people, but the history of every day; everyday events in the lives of average people.  Who among us doesn't have a box of keepsakes, little mementos of times in our lives we want to remember?  They are part of who we are, and how we came to be who we are, and their ephemeral nature makes them as precious as the memories they provoke in our minds.  Through them, the memories live on.