Texaco Fire Chief

This is it. This is the paper item that sent me down the rabbit hole of ephemera collecting. An ad from the back cover of the March 1935 National Geographic.  I had liked design styles – art deco, viagra sale shop bauhaus, sildenafil modern – for years but all I could “collect” of that were books and magazines. It was that I couldn’t find what I later did find (see my collection for what I mean). I had no idea what was out there. I did find travel brochures and booklets at flea markets or antique stores but they were not very visually interesting or exciting.

Texaco Fire Chief

Texaco Fire Chief Ad from the back cover of the March 1935 National Geoegraphic

I had always liked the National Geographic and had been buying back issues for years. Sometime while home from college in the 1980s I was looking thought an issue and as I closed it, I noticed this Texaco Fire-Chief advertisement on the back cover. The image caught my eye because the movement of the cars – as well as the style of the cars – reminded me of bauhaus photographs. The text I didn’t even see until later – and when I do notice it it’s more as text than words I actually “read.”

I thought this was pretty cool for a while, that is until I lived in Europe and started to find what is on my gallery and what this blog will be showcasing in due course. With hindsight, it is safe to say that most American design – in my opinion – pales in comparison to the work that was done in Europe. My own way of thinking about it is that American design was “naïve” or “folksy.” Whatever it was it has not held up well in comparison to European design.

This ad comes from the March 1935 issue of the National Geographic which featured articles on Minnesota, Nepal, Poland, and Mount Crillon.  The National Geographic is an amazing magazine for what it has done to spread knowledge of the world. What is harder to remember is how important it was in the pre-internet days when printed magazines and books were one’s only window into the world (excluding TV).

The front over of the National Geographic March 1935 that the ad comes from

The arrival of a new issue was a big deal as was buying old copies, especially those from before I was born. Not only did have article about magical places but the photos also captured a disappeared past. Pre-World War 2 issues were especially interesting for not only the lost time but often places, people, cultures, destroyed in the war.

Today, I have every issue of National Geographic ever published on a set of DVDs, the world is available on the internet. It does make me wonder what ephemera will survive from this time – I am afraid that the period from say 2005 and the rise of digital photos until the time when storage becomes so cheap that it is free and forever will be a lost age of images because the web has no “save” mechanism.

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