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Image features a poster design by Lester Beall for the Rural Electrification Administration. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Electrification for a Better Biscuit
This blog post was originally published on January 8, 2014.  By the 1930s, the vast majority of American urban dwellers had access to electricity in their homes and businesses.  But those in impoverished rural areas were often not serviced by private electric companies, who believed that it was not cost-effective for them to invest in...
Image features a poster depicting a triangle made up of colored blocks with a black circle at the top with atomic symbol; above: atoms for peace; lower margin: GENERAL DYNAMICS. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Looking Ahead in the Atomic Age
This blog post was originally published on August 4, 2014. The year is 1955, and Cold War tensions have begun to escalate. General Dynamics is a newly formed parent company overseeing eleven manufacturers, producing cutting edge technology for the defense of the United States. The company is capitalizing on the American policy of nuclear deterrence,...
Image features photograph of George “The Iceman” Gervin in a space filled with large ice cubes, holding a silver basketball in each hand, wearing a silver tracksuit with the word: ‘ICE’ embroidered on the chest. He wears white Nike sneakers. In lower margin: ICEMAN; lower left of photograph: NIKE logo. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Ice Ice Baby
Basketball star George Gervin never broke a sweat because he stayed cool under pressure. At least that’s what his teammates Julius Erving and Fatty Taylor thought when they nicknamed him “Iceman” in the early 1970s. But according to Gervin, his ability to remain dry throughout a game had nothing to do with a calm demeanor....
Santa’s Favorite Cigar
The characteristic wit and whimsy of graphic designer Paul Rand dominates a long-running series of ads designed for El Producto in the 1950s. Already wildly successful by the 1940s, Rand was hired in 1952 to revamp the American-made cigar company’s advertising efforts after production shifted from hand-rolled to machine-rolled cigars. To enliven these factory-made products,...
Utility and Marketing: A Matchsafe Made in Heaven
Cooper Hewitt holds a large number of matchsafes: small, metal boxes that emerged around 1830 to house recently invented friction matches. Vital for lighting lanterns, kitchen stoves and smoking accessories, people from all walks of life carried matchsafes, or vesta cases.  The air-tight containers kept matches dry and reduced the risk of spontaneous ignition, a...
“… of course, it’s electric!”
“The Battle of the Centuries” was a dish washing contest between Mrs. Drudge and Mrs. Modern, between hand washing vs. electric dishwashers at the 1939/40 New York World’s Fair. This contest promoted all the benefits of modern appliances and is part of the history of new and improved technology in the modern age. The Cooper Hewitt Library...
The It Girl
On February 19, 1927, the film “It,” starring Clara Bow, was publicly released in the United States, instantly becoming a box office success and making Clara Bow Hollywood’s first “It girl.” Later that year, Elizabeth C. Quinlan, co-founder of the Young-Quinlan Co., a prestigious Minneapolis department store, visited Paris in search of her own “It...
Come, All Ye Weary
Liberty and immigration: here are values so intimately tied with the history of the United States and New York in particular, that they seem to permeate one another. The year 1974 was a strenuous one for the US. The recent end of the Vietnam War left open wounds still seething in the minds of millions,...
Have a Coke with Me?
“The best political graphics today exist on the cusp of art and graphic design. The people responsible often see themselves as both artists and designers. The posters don’t look like they were done to express the views of a client, but rather to express the viewpoint of the creator. The work doesn’t exhibit the sort...