Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Uncle Sam Buys Bicycles: A Patriotic Christmas Ad from 1917

Without diving in too deep at the moment, here's an interesting pair of ads from the Capital Journal's Christmas supplement of 1917.

Arthur Moore's father was a Justice on the Oregon Supreme Court, and he took over his brother's business after an untimely death. (More on Moore here and here.)

Bikes and Patriotism during War - December 19th, 1917
(For more on the Pope Manufacturing Company's Columbia brand and military models, here's a couple of sites with lots more - one, two.)

"you are all entitled to the joys of life"
And here is a car ad that makes an explicit appeal to - or might even partially constitute - a kind of autoist entitlement! (The rhetoric of "entitlement" has generally not seemed useful here, as nowadays it's usually employed as a partisan way to insult a chosen out-group, but it's impossible not to notice it in this ad.)

After the war, the bike company leaned on the wartime orders in their advertising. Even though the ad at top talks about "Pope," in 1915-16 the company had filed for bankruptcy and reorganized as "Westfield Manufacturing."

Here's a national ad from 1919 in Cosmopolitan.

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So at this moment, in this pair of ads, the bicycle is aligned with something conservative and patriotic, and the automobile is aligned with an incipient consumer culture of self-actualization, wish-fulfillment, perhaps even narcissism. Ostensibly framed as a "gift," it's something for oneself instead. "You have been are entitled...your family will praise your good judgement..."

This is probably something we'll come back to later!

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