With All-American Ads of the 40s, TASCHEN continues their tradition of packaging together essential examples of vintage advertising ephemera – this time focusing on an America both challenged by World War II and caught in the subsequent wave of consumerism.
Running at over 700 pages, it’s packed full of all the beautiful, painterly artwork you would expect from golden-age artists such as Norman Rockwell, J.C. Leyendecker and Pete Hawley, as well as hints of the modern styles that would permeate the 50s from furniture designers such as Herman Miller. From Chesterfield Cigarettes to Plymouth Motors, and film posters for It’s a Wonderful Life, this is consumerist remedy and reward for more uncertain times. Bright and optimistic designs tell of the new home comforts you can enjoy if only you install the latest Motorola television or Electrolux refrigerator. After subjecting the general public to harrowing wartime ads featuring catchy taglines such as ‘Ever face a firing squad?’ these read like a mixture of apology and conformation to the American people that the future will be better than ever. Look past the great illustration and there’s an interesting story being told, one of a mass forward movement to shop their way through the worst of times. If you enjoyed previous books such as Advertising from the Mad-Men Era, this serves as an excellent companion and will certainly appeal to fans of vintage commercial illustration.