Skip to main content Smithsonian Institution

Search Results

Collections Search Center
4 documents - page 1 of 1

The Little Woman, GPA [black & white advertisement; tear sheet]

Advertiser:
N. W. Ayer and Son  Search this
Collection Creator:
Ayer (N W) Incorporated.  Search this
Extent:
1 Item (Ink on paper., 13.7" x 10.7".)
Container:
Box 20, Folder 2
Type:
Archival materials
Tear sheets
Advertisements
Date:
1928
Scope and Contents:
Illustration of a woman running her household as a business. Text about how a housewife makes spending decisions. Number 4 in a series of 13 company advertisments.
Local Numbers:
AC0059-0000011 (AC Scan)
Collection Restrictions:
The collection is open for research use.

Physical Access: Researchers must use microfilm copy. Researchers must handle unprotected photographs with gloves. Researchers must use reference copies of audiovisual materials. When no reference copy exists, the Archives Center staff will produce reference copies on an "as needed" basis, as resources allow.

Technical Access: Viewing the film portion of the collection without reference copies requires special appointment, please inquire; listening to audio discs requires special arrangement. Do not use original materials when available on reference video or audio tapes.
Collection Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Reproduction permission from Archives Center: reproduction fees may apply. Publication and production quality duplication is restricted due to complex copyright, publicity rights, and right to privacy issues. All duplication requests must be reviewed and approved by Archives Center staff. Potential users must receive written permission from appropriate rights holders prior to obtaining high quality copies.
Topic:
Women in advertising  Search this
Advertising agencies  Search this
advertising  Search this
Consumers  Search this
Housewives as consumers  Search this
Genre/Form:
Tear sheets
Advertisements -- 1920-1930
Collection Citation:
NW Ayer & Sons, incorporated Advertising Agency Records, Archives Center, National Museum of American History
See more items in:
N W Ayer Advertising Agency Records
N W Ayer Advertising Agency Records / Series 16: Publications / 16.1: In House Publications / Thirteen Advertisements
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0059-ref8425

Grace Jeffers Collection of Formica Materials

Creator:
Jeffers, Grace  Search this
Formica Corporation.  Search this
Names:
Faber, Herbert A.  Search this
Loewy, Raymond  Search this
O'Conor, Daniel J.  Search this
Stevens, Brooks  Search this
Extent:
18 Cubic feet (59 boxes, 11 oversize folders )
Type:
Archival materials
Collection descriptions
Scripts (documents)
Videotapes
Posters
Samples
Advertisements
Brochures
Blueprints
Photographs
Newsletters
Exhibition catalogs
Catalogs
Correspondence
Date:
1913-2003
Summary:
The Grace Jeffers Collection of Formica Materials consists of textual files, photographs, slides, negatives, drawings, blueprints, posters, advertisements, product brochures, newsletters, and informational pamphlets documenting the history of the Formica Corporation and the use of Formica brand plastic laminate.
Scope and Contents:
The Formica Collection, 1913-2003, consists of textual files, photographs, photo slides, drawings, blueprints, posters, advertisements, product brochures, informational pamphlets, and research notes documenting the history of the Formica Corporation and the use of Formica brand plastic laminate.
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged into ten series.

Series 1: Corporate Records, 1920-1992, 2003

Subseries 1.1: Annual reports, 1949, 1966, 1988

Subseries 1.2: Correspondence and company identity, 1920-1988

Subseries 1.3: Corporation histories and timelines, 1949-1991, undated

Subseries 1.4: Newspaper clippings and articles, 1934-2003

Subseries 1.5: Awards, 1940s-1987

Subseries 1.6: Patent information, 1925-1994

Subseries 1.7: Photographs, 1927-1966

Series 2: Personnel Records, 1943-1992

Series 3: Newsletters, Magazines, and Press Releases, 1942-1990

Subseries 3.1: Newsletters, 1942-1988

Subseries 3.2: Press releases, 1973-1990

Series 4: Product Information, 1948-1994

Series 5: Advertising and sales materials, 1913-2000

Subseries 5.1: Advertising materials, 1913-2000

Subseries 5.2: Sales materials, 1922-1993

Series 6: Subject Files, circa 1945, 1955-1991, 2002

Series 7: Exhibits, 1981-1994

Series 8: Grace Jeffers Research Materials, 1987-1997

Series 9: Audio Visual Materials, 1982-1995, undated

Series 10: Martin A. Jeffers Materials, 1963-1999

Subseries 10.1: Background Materials, 1965-1999

Subseries 10.2: Employee Benefits, 1963-1998

Subseries 10.3: Product Information, [1959?]-1997

Subseries 10.4: Advertising and Sales Records, 1987-1999
Biographical / Historical:
Since its founding in 1913, the history of the Formica Company has been marked by a spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship. The history begins with the discovery of Formica by two men who envisioned the plastic laminate as breakthrough insulation for motors. Later, Formica became a ubiquitous surfacing material used by artists and architects of post-modern design. The various applications of the plastic laminate during the twentieth century give it a prominent role in the history of plastics, American consumerism, and American popular culture.

The Formica Company was the brainchild of Herbert A. Faber and Daniel J. O'Conor, who met in 1907 while both were working at Westinghouse in East Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. O'Conor, head of the process section in the Research Engineering Department, had been experimenting with resins, cloth, paper, and a wide array of solvents in an effort to perfect a process for making rigid laminate sheets from Kraft paper and liquid Bakelite. O'Conor produced the first laminate sheet at Westinghouse by winding and coating paper on a mandrel, slitting the resulting tube, and flattening it on a press. The finished product was a laminated sheet with the chemical and electrical properties of Bakelite that were cut into various shapes and sizes. O'Conor applied for a patent on February 1, 1913, but it was not issued until November 12, 1918 (US Patent 1,284,432). Since the research was done on behalf of Westinghouse, the company was assigned the patent, and O'Conor was given one dollar, the customary amount that Westinghouse paid for the rights to employees' inventions.

Herbert Faber, Technical Sales Manager of insulating materials, was excited about O'Conor's discovery. Faber saw limitless possibilities for the new material. However, he quickly became frustrated by Westinghouse's policy limiting the sale of the laminate to its licensed distributors. After failing to persuade Westinghouse to form a division to manufacture and market the new material, Faber and O'Conor created their own company. On May 2, 1913, the first Formica plant opened in Cincinnati, Ohio. On October 15, 1913, the business incorporated as the Formica Insulation Company with Faber as president and treasurer and O'Conor as vice-president and secretary. The company began producing insulation parts used in place of or "for mica," the costly mineral that had been used in electrical insulation.

Like most new companies, Formica had modest beginnings. Faber and O'Conor faced the challenge of looking for investors who would let them maintain control over the company. Finally, they met J. G. Tomluin, a lawyer and banker from Walton, Kentucky, who invested $7,500 for a one-third share in the Formica Company. Renting a small space in downtown Cincinnati, Faber and O'Conor began work. The company's equipment list consisted of a 35-horsepower boiler, a small gas stove, and a variety of homemade hand screw presses. By September 1913, Tomluin had brought in two more partners, David Wallace and John L. Vest. With the added capital, O'Conor, Faber, and Formica's eighteen employees began producing automobile insulation parts for Bell Electric Motor, Allis Chalmers, and Northwest Electric.

Initially, the Formica Company only made insulation rings and tubes for motors. However, by July 4, 1914, the company obtained its first press and began to produce flat laminate sheets made from Redmenol resin. Business gradually grew, and by 1917 sales totaled $75,000. Fueled by World War I, Formica's business expanded to making radio parts, aircraft pulleys, and timing gears for the burgeoning motor industry. In the years that followed, Formica products were in high demand as laminate plastics replaced older materials in washers, vacuum cleaners, and refrigerators. By 1919, the Formica Company required larger facilities and purchased a factory in Cincinnati.

During this time, patent battles and legal suits emerged to challenge Formica's success. On June 11, 1919, Westinghouse sued Formica for patent infringement on its laminated gears; Formica won. Later that year, Westinghouse brought two new lawsuits against Formica. The first was for a patent infringement on the production of tubes, rods, and molded parts; the second was over an infringement based on a 1913 patent assigned to Westinghouse through O'Conor. Formica prevailed in both suits.

Legal battles did not deter the company. Having to defend itself against a giant corporation gave Formica a reputation as a scrappy contender. Finally, Faber and O'Conor made a quantum leap in 1927, when the company was granted a U.S. patent for a phenolic laminate utilizing lithographed wood grains of light color, forming an opaque barrier sheet which blocks out the dark interior of the laminate. In 1931, the company received two more patents for the preparation of the first all paper based laminate and for the addition of a layer of aluminum foil between the core and the surface, making the laminate cigarette-proof. These patents would allow Formica to move from a company dealing primarily with industrial material to the highly visible arena of consumer goods.

In 1937, Faber had a severe heart attack which limited his activity within the company. O'Conor continued as president, encouraging new product lines, including Realwood, as a laminate with genuine wood veneer mounted on a paper lamination with a heat-reactive binder. With the introduction of Realwood and its derivatives, manufacturers started using Formica laminate for tabletops, desks, and dinette sets. By the early forties, sales of Formica laminate were over 15 million dollars. The final recipe for decorative laminate was perfected in 1938, when melamine resins were introduced. Melamine was clear, extremely hard, and resistant to stains, heat, light, less expensive than phenolic resins. It also made possible laminates of colored papers and patterns.

Due to World War II, Formica postponed the manufacturing of decorative laminate sheets. Instead, the company made a variety of war-time products ranging from airplane propellers to bomb buster tubes.

The post-World War II building boom fueled the decorative laminate market and ushered in what would come to be known as the golden age for Formica. The company, anticipating the demand for laminate, acquired a giant press capable of producing sheets measuring thirty by ninety-six inches for kitchen countertops. Between 1947 and 1950, more than 2 million new homes were designed with Formica brand laminate for kitchens and bathrooms.

Formica's advertising campaigns, initially aimed at industry, were transformed to speak to the new decorative needs of consumer society, in particular the American housewife. Formica hired design consultants, Brooks Stevens, and, later, Raymond Loewy who launched extensive advertising campaigns. Advertising themes of durability, cleanliness, efficiency, and beauty abound in promotional material of this time. Advertisers promised that the plastic laminate, known as "the wipe clean wonder," was resistant to dirt, juices, jams, alcohol stains, and cigarette burns. Atomic patterns and space-age colors, including Moonglo, Skylark, and Sequina, were introduced in homes, schools, offices, hospitals, diners, and restaurants across America.

The post-war period was also marked by expansion, specifically with the establishment of Formica's first international markets. In 1947, Formica signed a licensing agreement with the British firm the De La Rue Company of London for the exclusive manufacture and marketing of decorative laminates outside North America, and in South America and the Pacific Basin. In 1948, Formica changed its name from the Formica Insulation Company to the Formica Company. In 1951, Formica responded to growing consumer demand by opening a million square foot plant in Evendale, Ohio, devoted to the exclusive production of decorative sheet material. In 1956, the Formica Company became the Formica Corporation, a subsidiary of American Cyanamid Company. A year later, the international subsidiaries that Formica formed with De La Rue Company of London were replaced by a joint company called Formica International Limited.

The plastic laminate was not merely confined to tabletops and dinette sets. Formica laminate was used for skis, globes, and murals. Moreover, well-known artists and architects used the decorative laminate for modernist furniture and Art Deco interiors. In 1960, Formica's Research and Development Design Center was established, adjacent to the Evendale plant, to develop uses for existing laminate products. In 1966, the company opened the Sierra Plant near Sacramento, California. Such corporate expansion enabled Formica to market its laminates beyond the traditional role as a countertop surface material.

In 1974, Formica established its Design Advisory Board (DAB), a group of leading designers and architects. DAB introduced new colors and patterns of laminate that gained popularity among artists and interior designers in the 1980s. In 1981, DAB introduced the Color Grid, a systematic organization of Formica laminate arranged by neutrals and chromatics. The Color Grid was described as the first and only logically arranged collection of color in the laminate industry. DAB also developed the Design Concepts Collection of premium solid and patterned laminates to serve the needs of contemporary interior designers.

In the 1980s and 1990s, the corporation continued to produce laminates for interior designers, artists, and architects. In 1982, Formica introduced COLORCORE, the first solid-color laminate. Due to its relatively seamless appearance, COLORCORE was adopted by artists for use in furniture, jewelry, and interior design. The introduction of COLORCORE also marked the emergence of a wide variety of design exhibitions and competitions sponsored by the Formica Corporation. In 1985, Formica Corporation became independent and privately held. Formica continues to be one of the leading laminate producers in the world with factories in the United States, England, France, Spain, Canada, and Taiwan.

For additional information on the history of the Formica Corporation, see:

DiNoto, Andrea. Art Plastic: Designed for Living. New York: Abbeville Press, 1985.

Fenichell, Stephen. Plastic: The Making of a Synthetic Century. New York: Harper/Collins, 1996.

Jeffers Grace. 1998. Machine Made Natural: The Decorative Products of the Formica Corporation, 1947-1962. Master's thesis. Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts.

Lewin, Susan Grant, ed. Formica & Design: From Counter Top to High Art. New York: Rizzoli, 1991.
Related Materials:
Materials at the Archives Center

Leo Baekeland Papers, 1881-1968 (AC0005)

DuPont Nylon Collection, 1939-1977 (AC0007)

J. Harry DuBois Collection on the History of Plastics, circa 1900-1975 (AC0008)

Earl Tupper Papers, circa 1914-1982 (AC0470)

The Division of Medicine and Science holds artifacts related to this collection. See accession # 1997.0319 and #1997.3133.
Provenance:
This collection was assembled by Grace Jeffers, historian of material culture, primarily from materials given to her by Susan Lewin, Head of Formica's New York design and publicity office when the office closed in 1995. The collection was donated to the Archives Center by Grace Jeffers in September 1996.
Restrictions:
The collection is open for research use. Researchers must use reference copies of audio-visual materials. When no reference copy exists, the Archives Center staff will produce reference copies on an "as needed" basis, as resources allow.
Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Topic:
Plastics industry and trade  Search this
Plastics -- 1920-2000  Search this
Plastics as art material -- 1920-2000  Search this
Plastics in interior design -- 1920-2000  Search this
advertising -- plastic industry -- 1920-2000  Search this
Plastic jewelry -- 1920-2000  Search this
Laminated plastics -- 1920-2000  Search this
Exhibitions -- 20th century -- United States  Search this
House furnishings -- 1920-2000 -- United States  Search this
Housewives as consumers -- 1920-2000  Search this
Electronic insulators and insulation -- Plastics -- 1920-2000  Search this
Inventions -- 1920-2000 -- United States  Search this
Women in advertising  Search this
Women in popular culture -- 1920-2000  Search this
Genre/Form:
Scripts (documents)
Videotapes
Posters -- 20th century
Samples -- 1920-2000
Advertisements
Brochures
Blueprints -- 20th century
Photographs -- 20th century
Newsletters -- 20th century
Exhibition catalogs
Catalogs
Catalogs -- 1920-2000
Correspondence -- 20th century
Citation:
Grace Jeffers Collection of Formica Materials, Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.0565
See more items in:
Grace Jeffers Collection of Formica Materials
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-0565
Additional Online Media:

Saul Nesbitt Papers

Collector:
Cooper-Hewitt Design Archives  Search this
Cooper-Hewitt Design Archives  Search this
Creator:
Nesbitt, Saul, 1920-1993.  Search this
Names:
Archway Cookies, Inc.  Search this
Borden's Farm Products Co. of Illinois  Search this
Campbell Soup Company  Search this
Cooper-Hewitt Design Archive  Search this
Eastman Kodak Company  Search this
Florists' Telegraph Delivery Association  Search this
Franco American Food Co.  Search this
Lever Brothers and Unilever, ltd.  Search this
National Distillers and Chemical Corporation  Search this
Nesbitt Associates, Ltd.  Search this
P. Ballantine & Sons  Search this
Philip Morris Incorporated  Search this
Revlon, Inc.  Search this
Schick (Firm)  Search this
Scott Paper Company  Search this
Seagram Company  Search this
Extent:
3.5 Cubic feet
Type:
Archival materials
Collection descriptions
Slides
Sketches
Transparencies
Press releases
Correspondence
Photographs
Media lists
Blueprints
Drawings
Clippings
Client lists
Date:
1951 - 1984
Scope and Contents:
Background and biographical information consists of Nesbitt's resume, an artist/designer statement, list of clients and accomplishments of Nesbitt Associates, Ltd., press releases, articles, and photographs of the designer.,The materials in this collection document Nesbitt's work from 1951 through 1984.
The records of the office of public relations cover the years 1955-1963 and include press releases and clippings describing some Nesbitt's products, his theories on consumer motivation, and the results of his surveys, as well as correspondence with members of the press. General office correspondence is boxed separately.
Color slides, color and black & white transparencies, and black & white photographs of most of Nesbitt's designs for packaging from 1951-1981 are included. Oversized materials include books jackets and booklets designed by Nesbitt, as well as some renderings for packaging designs done in color.
Three samples of fitted presentation boxes designed by Nesbitt are included, as well as a prototype for a design award for Parsons School of Design in New York, and two "Multiplication" cubes commissioned by the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Arrangement:
This collection has been reboxed in archivally-sound containers, but the materials have only been partially processed and arranged. Record groups include: 1) Backgound and Biographical Information; 2) Records of the Public Relations Office, 1955-1963; 3) Correspondence; 4) Slides, Transparencies, and Photographs; 5) Oversized Materials; and 6) Samples.
Biographical / Historical:
Packaging, industrial, and graphic designer. Born in New York City, August 10, 1920. Nesbitt was a student of sculptor Chaim Gross and studied art at many New York institutions including: Art Students League; New York University; Columbia University; Pratt Institute of Art; and the New School.

He served in the U.S. Army from 1942 to 1945 where he worked as a cartographer and as the head of the visual aid section in a military intelligence training center. In 1945, he joined the staff of Harper's Bazaar magazine where he was an illustrator assisting art director Alexey Brodovich. In 1946, Nesbitt was hired by the industrial design studio of Raymond Loewy as a handletterer and packaging designer.

He worked with Lippincott Industrial Design from 1948 to 1951. Nesbitt opened his own design studio, Nesbitt Associates, Ltd. in 1951. The firm specialized in package design, trademarks, and corporate identities. Some of his most recognizable designs were for the label for Campbell's Soup and the Florists' Telegraph Delivery (F.T.D.) Winged Mercury 'Interflora' figure, still used today. Nesbitt's other clients included: Franco American; Revlon; Ballantine Beer; Borden; Champion spark plugs; Kodak; Philip Morris cigarettes; Schick razors; and Archway cookies. In addition, Nesbitt developed the "Karry Kit" for Ballantine Beer which came to be widely used and known as the six pack.

Nesbitt was known for his revealing studies and surveys of the buying needs and preferences of the "average American housewife" and consumers in general. His opinions on what he referred to as "underpackaging" were widely publicized in professional magazines and journals. In 1984, Nesbitt retired from the design field and went to California to resume his career as a sculptor until his death in 1993.
Provenance:
Collection donated by the designer's wife, Mrs. Saul Nesbitt, in 1994.
Restrictions:
Unrestricted research access on site by appointment.,Unprotected photographs must be handled with gloves.
Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Occupation:
Industrial designers  Search this
Packaging designers  Search this
Graphic designers  Search this
Topic:
Consumers -- Research  Search this
Consumers' preferences -- United States  Search this
Housewives as consumers  Search this
Labels -- Design  Search this
Corporate image -- Design  Search this
Logos (Symbols) -- Design  Search this
Graphic arts -- United States  Search this
Design, Industrial -- United States  Search this
Packaging -- Design  Search this
Genre/Form:
Slides
Sketches
Transparencies
Press releases
Correspondence
Photographs -- 20th century
Media lists
Blueprints
Drawings
Clippings
Client lists
Citation:
Saul Nesbitt Papers, 1951-1984, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.1275
See more items in:
Saul Nesbitt Papers
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-1275

Housework and housewives in American advertising : married to the mop / Jessamyn Neuhaus

Author:
Neuhaus, Jessamyn  Search this
Physical description:
xii, 273 p. : ill. ; 22 cm
Type:
Books
Place:
United States
Date:
2013
2011
2013, c2011
Topic:
Sex role in advertising  Search this
Stereotypes (Social psychology) in advertising  Search this
Women in advertising  Search this
Housewives as consumers  Search this
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_1020426

Modify Your Search






or


Narrow By