A Mid-Century Modern Office

2 09 2015

This 1950s advertisement from Virginia Metal Products showcases their stylish ‘Mobilwall’ system. The panels were offered in bright enameled colors and translucent glass. This design apparently came about when “Dorr-Oliver, international engineering firm, wanted its new headquarters building in Stamford, Connecticut, to reflect its world-wide activities. The company’s interior designers, Rodgers Associates, conceived the idea of partitions following the horizontal lines of the Japanese shoji screen. Working closely with them, VMP engineers produced these distinctive Mobilwalls to match this concept.” Now, what does all of this have to do with Nefertiti? No idea, but there she is in the ad…

VMP ad 2-small

Here, Kitty Kitty

10 08 2015

Forgive the flimsy paper of this recent 2015 issue of TV Guide, which allows the print on the reverse to bleed through when scanned. Usually the Franklin Mint is the object of my curled upper lip and raised eyebrow, but it appears that the Hamilton Collection is walking away with the prize this time for Tackiest Tchotchke. And I do mean that with the greatest affection. The smarmy, LOL, tongue-n-cheek commentary is the chip to the salsa of this ad, which I reproduce here (with some snark of my own): “Brilliant “golden” accents” (air quotes – classic); “Limited to only 95 days of production” (95 days too many); “Cleo-CAT-tra was the queen of them all, ruling over her subjects with an iron…paw.” (apparently they don’t think you’re clever enough to pick up on the puns without adding capitalization and italics…and they may be correct if you’re printing this out so you can mail in the order form…)


Stuck for Life

23 07 2015

I love the modernity of this c. 1940 ad for the Arabol Manufacturing Co. Rays branch out from a distant sphinx head, and showcase products from many well-known brands who used this company’s adhesives for their packaging: Bacardi, Corona, Polident, Philip Morris…

Arabol adhesives ad-small

Peel Me a Grape

6 06 2015

This colorful label dates to the early twentieth century and would have been glued to a wooden crate used for packing fruit – in this case, grapes fresh from sunny California. Although, they would have arrived by train or truck, not camel. Notice the usual artistic liberties taken with the design. The Sphinx is rather far away from the pyramids…


Squeaky Clean

7 05 2015

This is an early twentieth century newspaper advertisement for U-ar-das Bath of Benzoin. What is that, you ask? Well, according to the ad copy, it is a tablet that when dissolved, “softens the water and daintily perfumes it…removes all oils and foreign matter from the pores – strengthens and tones the natural functions of the skin and restores the perfect smooth, clear complexion which nature originally gave us.” Yeah, right. Oh, and this snake-oil purveyor also sold a companion item, Woodlark Dermatic Egg Shampoo. The Egyptian imagery of poolside temple and decorative Sphinx are applied to enforce the company’s claim that “Centuries ago, it was learned that the bath, prepared with benzoin, invigorated the skin and beautified the complexion. Benzoin is the modern name for Malahathrum described by Pliny. The Beauty Bath of the Ancients, therefore, is not a secret, and can be enjoyed daily by modern women.”

Uardas BH15

The Staff of Life

16 04 2015

This logo for Ballard’s Obelisk Flour is from a vintage piece of stationary from the Ballard & Ballard Company, c. 1910. It features the three most iconic elements of ancient Egypt – the Sphinx, a pyramid, and an obelisk. Because branding (the incorporation of a snazzy design element representative of your company into all aspects of what you do) is a great idea, the historic Ballard building in Memphis also features fabulous Egyptianizing ornamentation.

Ballard stationary-detail

Remember Me When This Pyramid You See

20 03 2015

Once upon a time there was a man named James Buchanan. He was President of the United States. Then he died, but that’s not The End. His niece donated land for a park to honor his memory, which includes a rustic stone pyramid on the site of Jame’s family home. You can read more about it here. And you can visit and compare this vintage postcard view to what you see there.

Buchanan tomb


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