Shelf Appeal doesn’t contain a lot of American graphics and design. It’s a world of nice things I know very little about. And because I don’t know the material, researching becomes so much harder to kickstart. I have no sense of this person did this so that person might have done the other. But some few bits and pieces – usually related to American department store history – have snuck on to the shelf.
This beautifully preserved fold out advertisement for a men’s shoe sale at Lord & Taylor has had me on a chase across the big old internet. As Lord & Taylor told me they knew nothing about any archive of theirs.
I thought this card was from the 1910’s. The layout, text and typography said it was so. Even if the illustration was rather more modern looking. Clicking about I came across the work of the American illustrator Coles Phillips, known for his use of ‘negative space’, which made me think. That chair our chap is sat on is very nearly a use of negative space, most unusual and distinctive. Phillips designed some beautiful magazines covers but I found nothing to connect him to Lord & Taylor. Yet chances are he might still have designed this; those department stores were no slouches when it came to using the commercial artists of the moment.
I did manage to date this to 1914 from a newspaper advert in the New York Tribune of that year, though. Which made me happy. All hail the Google search.
Whoever drew it – it is a cracker. The young man is owning his shoes, bowler and everything in between. And the way the slight sway of his walking stick echoes the curve of the chair. Joy.