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NSA of USA vs. CSA

This is a story not unlike the NSA today, but dates back to the Civil War. Scottish born Alan Pinkerton’s name is synonymous with private policing. He founded the Pinkerton National Detective Agency in 1850 and the company is still in operation as Securitas AB.

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Games French People Play

Advertising is about the art of surprise, leading to persuasion, ending in recognition and loyalty. We may not recall Ruban Bleu Margarine, but in the late ’20s, you can be certain that the French had it on their radar.

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Snail Mail Art

When I was an art director at the New York Times, my colleagues and I received our fair share of illustrated beauties either as invoices, promotions or simple greetings. Here are a few sent to me and others.

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Music Visualization 1.0

Before the deluge in Germany, in 1931, the composer Heribert and illustrator Johannes Grüger published “The Sing Song Picture Book,” in which characters and images represent notes. Presaging the digital age rage for icons and glyphs, the pair realized that children respond to animated pictures

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The Future of German Advertising Past

Julius Gipkens (1883-1968) was one of the masters of Plakatstil (Poster Style) in Berlin and an exponent of Lucian Bernhard’s Sachplakat (Object Poster) methodology. A self-taught artist, he founded a graphics agency, which designed for the Sarotti Mohr confection firm, Cardinal Cigarettes and the Leiser shoe company.

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The Seedy Beauty of the Soho Diva

Rian Hughes is a master of many arts and a prolific author. In addition to books of comics, collections of vernacular types and other handbooks on design, his Batman Black and White is just out. Recently, he published a book of drawings, Soho Dives and Soho Divas (Image Comics) which so fascinated me, I had to ask him:

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Dr. Hans Sachs’ Posters for Sale

The recent discovery of lost Nazi looted Modern masterpieces, has brought Hitler’s criminal art activities back to the forefront. Dr. Hans Sachs, poster collector, editor of Das Plakat, the magazine that advocated for standards of early German advertising art, and whose his vast collection was confiscated by Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels, narrowly escaped the Holocaust. Recently, after years of court wrangling, his holdings, many of which were in major German collections, were returned to his family.

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Stop and Friskie

Teaching right from wrong is one lesson of good citizenship. Learning to trust the police is job one for public relations. I recall this booklet from when I was a kid. The officer on the beat, Officer Joe, would visit our public school, all smiles yet stern when he had to be. We’d learn what to do at crosswalks, and then he’d deputize a lucky few of us.

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I Sing the Body Schematic

Taschen’s latest mammoth volume, Fritz Kahn by Uta and Thilo von Debschitz is about a German doctor, educator, popular science writer and information graphics pioneer whose work translating the human organism into accessible human metaphors and analogies, has all but fallen into oblivion. Here is an excerpt.