Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Cigarette Cards and Opera Masks

Waylaid without excuse (attempts: HBO, escalation of stress at work, Bonfire of the Vanities), but here are some cigarette cards from the New York Public Library's collection. The norm of including one of these tradable card series in cigarette packages was a gimmick thought up be James B. Duke in the late 1870s - I tried to dig around (lazily, albeit) but couldn't figure out the first appearances in China, where (I imagine) they must have represented some of those creeping innovations in modern advertising born from more familiar comic-like art (incursion of an internationally tradable unit of graphic design, or something of the sort.) Zhou Xun traces a cultural history of smoking during the early 20th C. in Smoke (one can never have enough cultural histories of single commodities, except, when one has had enough.)

Doing research for Joyce Chaplin, J. Specht discovered a highlight of American cigarette slogans in the 50's: "Blow on her face, and she'll follow you anywhere."

Chinese opera faces (masks) Digital ID: 1184032. New York Public Library
Chinese opera faces (masks) Digital ID: 1183876. New York Public Library
Chinese opera faces (masks) Digital ID: 1183890. New York Public Library

1 comment:

  1. Here's a link to the "blow in her face" ad: http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1049/842900198_d11679ec22_o.jpg

    Now THAT'S funny.