Four Score and Seventy Years Ago

150 years ago, on April 12, 1861, Confederate artillery opened fire on Fort Sumter, a Federal fort in Charleston Harbor, Charleston, SC. The garrison surrendered 34 hours later, marking the first Union defeat in what would become a bloody four year Civil War. Back in 1961 Bradbury Thompson (1911–1995), designer of the storied paper promotion Westvaco Inspirations (among many other things), created an issue devoted to “The War Between the States” on the 100th anniversary of the conflict.

As Thompson enjoyed doing, he made vintage illustrations and type modern. His page layout, which includes excerpts from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and a brief narrative account of the war itself, was akin to a contiguous, page-turning collage (an exquisite corpse of graphic iconography), illustrating key moments and technologies that helped tear the nation asunder.

Thompson was a classicist with modernist tendencies, a craftsman and designer whose perfection was legendary. Westvaco Inspirations was his graphic design and typographic laboratory, and forum for interpreting history as it related to the present.

Here are spreads from Westvaco 216 (Copyright 1961, West Virginia Pulp and Paper Corporation). Note that even in 1961 the states were color-coded between North and South as red and blue.

(See yesterday’s Nightly Daily Heller on duping neo-nazis through T-shirt design.)

The War Between the States

The War Between the States

The War Between the States

The War Between the States

The War Between the States

The War Between the States

The War Between the States

The War Between the States

The War Between the States

7 thoughts on “Four Score and Seventy Years Ago

  1. Blake

    Steven, I loved the reference, I’m one of those odd balls out there that actually knows the time measurement of a score (its 20 years for anyone that didn’t know).  If you want to get technical your “4 score and one hundred and 13 years ago, would only be 193 years.  But hey, I love the reference and the math just threw me.  If you care, 150 years, keeping with the Gettysburg reference, would be “4 score and 70 years ago”.  I hope you take my criticism with a grain of salt and in good natured, that’s my only intention! Thank you for this post and with all of your posts I always enjoy.  Happy Friday!

  2. Steven Heller Post author

    Oy Vey. Math was not my strong suit. Thanks Blake for the correction. Yes, going for the obvious Gettysburg reference. Double check me on that too.

  3. Blake

    It was 150 years ago, not 200.  Wouldn’t it make sense to turn it all into scores, so “Seven score and ten years ago”…or were you going for the obvious Gettysburg Address reference instead of the subtle one?

COMMENT