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.
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.
Materials in the Archives Center
NMAH.AC.0367 Campbell Soup Advertising Oral History and Documentation Project
NMAH.AC.0552 Caroline R. Jones Papers
NMAH.AC.0060 Warshaw Collection of Business Americana
NMAH.AC.0939 Revlon, Incorporated Advertising Collection
NMAH.AC.0561 Albert W. Hampson Commercial Artwork Collection
Materials at the Smithsonian Institution
Archives of American Art, Esta Nesbitt Papers, circa 1942-1981
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Archives Collection Management Records, 1989-2006
Collection donated by the designer's wife, Mrs. Saul Nesbitt, in 1994.
Collection is open for research but is stored off-site and special arrangements must be made to work with it. Contact the Archives Center for information at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-633-3270.
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.