Tag Archives: Business History

Catalog Features Glens Falls Insurance Co. Sign

The Glens Falls Insurance Company agent’s trade sign, which served as the model for the reproduction currently available from Pottery Barn, is now on display at the Chapman Historical Museum. Shaped in the form of a fireman’s helmet shield, the five foot tall sign, which dates from around 1877, proclaims the company’s solid assets under its logo, “Old and Tried.” The original sign, part of the museum’s Glens Falls Insurance Company Collection, has been reproduced through a licensing agreement between the museum and Williams Sonoma.

The Glens Falls Insurance Company was founded in 1849 by Russell M. Little, a former Methodist minister, to provide fire insurance for residents of his small upstate New York community. The company grew rapidly, and in a few years operated branch offices across the United States. “Old & Tried” became well known for sound business practices and the ability to pay claims after the disastrous fires that plagued American cities a century ago. The company’s motto proved well deserved. In response to the 1906 earthquake and fire that destroyed San Francisco, Glens Falls Insurance Company paid out $1.5 million from its surplus without suffering financial setback.

In spite of research, the exact identity of the agent, C.H. Barber, is not known. Leads from the public are welcome.

For more information call the Chapman Historical Museum at (518) 793-2826. The museum is located at 348 Glen Street, Glens Falls, NY. Public hours are Tuesday – Saturday, 10 am to 4 pm, and Sunday, Noon to 4 pm.

NYPL Offers Program on Tobacco Advertising

A new exhibition hosted by The New York Public Library examines the historic advertisements in which tobacco companies claimed that smoking provided a range of health benefits, including the ability to calm nerves, boost energy and aid in weight loss. That’s one from my personal collection at left.

Not a Cough in a Car Load: Images Used by Tobacco Companies to Hide the Hazards of Smoking, an historical, multi-faceted and thought-provoking exhibition examining the methods tobacco companies took to promote their products, will be on display at The New York Public Library’s Science, Industry and Business Library‘-s Healy Hall at 188 Madison Avenue, from October 7 to December 26, 2008. Admission is free. A related event featuring a lecture by the exhibition’s curator, Dr. Robert Jackler, including the presentation of vintage video advertisements for tobacco products, will be held on Tuesday, December 9, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Dr. Jackler, an associate dean of Continuing Medical Education at Stanford University, created the revealing look at the tobacco industry after his mother, a longtime smoker, was diagnosed with lung cancer. Aiming to raise awareness of advertising practices at the time, the exhibit contains boldly designed eye-catching images collected from such publications as Life and the Saturday Evening Post and ranging in date from 1927 to 1954. All images have been returned to their original, vibrant form through digital enhancement.

“Due to our current knowledge of the dangers involved with cigarettes, some of the images are actually humorous in nature and while we are having some fun with the exhibition, this is also a compelling story about the way the tobacco industry kept people smoking for generations,” said Dr. Jackler.”We are talking about an industry that put profits above all consideration for its customers’ well-being.It is still relevant today, because while the ads are much more subtle and constrained, the message and goals are still the same.”

The exhibit debuted at Stanford University in January 2007 and has been shown at the University of California and Harvard Medical prior to its run at the library.

“Not a Cough in a Carload takes a look at the power of image and serves as a follow-up to other advertising exhibitions we have hosted,” said John Ganly, SIBL’s assistant director for collections.”It is also a perfect complement to the great collections at the library that deal with the issues of smoking.”

In addition to images of such luminaries as Rock Hudson, John Wayne, Joe DiMaggio, a pre-presidential Ronald Reagan, and Santa Claus smoking tobacco products, advertisements also depict unidentified doctors with cigarettes in hand accompanied by the claim that “More Doctors Smoke Camels than Any Other Cigarette.” Another features a statistic that 󈬖,381 Dentists Say, ‘Smoke Viceroys,’” before the bold statement that the filtered brand “Can never stain your teeth.”

“They used images of doctors to reassure the public, but these characters came right out of central casting and only looked like doctors,” said Dr. Jackler.”The medical profession didn’t complain, because the ads made doctors appear noble. And the public were taken in by the ads, because if a doctor smokes, it must be ok.”

The popular “Reach for a Lucky, Instead of a Sweet” campaign by Lucky Strike is also featured, as tobacco companies wooed weight-conscious consumers. Lucky Strike, among other cigarette companies, is also featured in ads tackling “smoker’s cough,” as a brand good for the throat. In addition to the medicinal effects of cigarettes, claims made about tobacco’s effects on smokers’ moods are also examined in vivid detail, along with images of advertisements Dr. Jackler believes were directed at kids in the Sunday “funnies”.

In a separate area leading to the main exhibition, the library will include documents from the George Arents Collection on Tobacco on display along with three-dimensional materials, such as actual magazines featuring cigarette advertisements and boxes of candy cigarettes.In addition, a research guide culled from various documents at The New York Public Library, featuring government papers, Surgeon General reports and hearings dealing with tobacco advertising, will be made available. A guest book will also allow visitors to express their reactions to the exhibition.

Not a Cough in a Car Load: Images Used by Tobacco Companies to Hide the Hazards of Smoking will be on view from October 7 to December 26, 2008 in Healy Hall at the The New York Public Library’s Science, Industry and Business Library, located at 188 Madison Avenue. Exhibition hours run Monday, Friday and Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.- and Tuesday through Thursday, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.Admission is free. For more information, call (212) 592-7000 or visit www.nypl.org.

J. P. Morgan Papers Offered For Sale

One of the blogs we follow here at New York History is ephemera: exploring the world of old paper. One of their recent posts caught our attention:

Since reading The House of Morgan: An American Banking Dynasty and the Rise of Modern Finance, the towering biography of J.P. Morgan by John Chernow, I’ve been intrigued by the legacy of the great financier and others of his ilk. Several years ago, while in NYC for a few days, I visited the Morgan Library. While not as impressive as other shrines to rich and powerful men (e.g., George Vanderbilt’s Biltmore Estate), it was certainly an enjoyable and educational field trip. So, when I saw that Scott J. Winslow was presenting a catalog devoted to the financial giant, I thought it was worth a mention here. According to the Winslow site, the catalog traces the the course of Morgan’s prolific career, which saw presidencies from Lincoln to Theodore Roosevelt.

Ironically, it was almost exactly 100 years ago when old J.P. bailed out the country by loaning millions to the banks during the financial panic of 1907. Without J.P.’s cash infusion, the U.S. might have suffered a catastrophy that might have altered the course of the 20th century. Who would we turn to today?

Ephemera collectors [and New York historians!] will undoubtedly appreciate this extensive catalog featuring Morgan and his many influential associates and partners, including John D. Rockefeller, Jay Cooke, Anthony Drexel, and Jay Gould.

Other posts on the ephemera blog that have recently caught our attention include:

Luggage Label Collector Tom Schifanella Interview

Vintage Advertising Collector Jamie Bradburn Interview

The Peterhof Museum of Playing Cards

Pulp Magazine Expert Avi Abrams Interview

Vintage Lingerie Ephemera – Slip of a Girl Interview

Rick Prelinger – Panorama Ephemera Film Project Interview

American Motel Roadside Ephemera Collector Andrew Wood Interview

From Shaker Lands and Shaker Hands – Interview with M. Stephen Miller

Photograph Kodak Collector Martha Cooper Interview

Antique Fishing Lures Collector Rob Pavey Interview

When Content Was King: Turn of the Century Magazines

Phillip Stager Venereal Disease Ephemera Collection Interview

Casino Chip Collector Travis Lewin Cashes In

Beer Coaster Collector George Barone Interview