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Grolier Club Exhibitions


Dispense with a Horse. Cleveland, OH: The Winton Motor Carriage Co., 1898.

The first advertisement for the horseless carriage appeared in the July 30, 1898, issue of Scientific American. Its main pitch pointed out the benefits of the motor car over the horse by highlighting the horse’s negatives, e.g., odor, cost of upkeep, and slowness.

Autofume. Allume cigare électrique sans fil pratique et élégant [Autofume. Practical and elegant cordless electric cigarette lighter]. Paris: M. Poyet & Co., [ca. 1920s].

Move her hand and she “lights” her cigarette. This trade card for an automobile dashboard-mounted cigarette lighter has a full description and price on the reverse. The text dares to claim that lighting one’s cigarette with their lighter will have the tobacco taste better than when lighted with a match.


Wow! That must have been Shell, the gasoline for PEP and POWER. USA: Shell Motor Products, [ca. 1920s].

Pulling the side panel will have the police officer’s head swivel 180º in each direction. Pulling quickly will reinforce the message that Shell’s gasoline will make your car go fast; it also adds a bit of levity. The verso lists several Shell products. This mechanism is patented.

Demarrez … sûrement et sans perte de temps avec les batteries Tudor Puissante. [Get started … safely and without wasting time with Tudor powerful batteries]. France: Tudor [auto batteries], [ca. 1930s].

This is a DIY [do-it-yourself] card requiring the reader to cut and assemble it. Directions are on the back. For both the advertiser and the prospective consumer, DIY cards serve dual purposes. The advertiser does not have to assume the cost of die-cutting and assembling; assembly is always done by hand, and labor is expensive. The consumer has the fun of creating a movable card, but the time and energy invested serves to reinforce the message and the company name, both aims of the advertiser. Founder Henri Owen Tudor (1859–1928) developed the first lead-acid battery in 1886 and died of lead poisoning. Note the unassembled card.

Standard Gasoline-Winter Freeze Tested. CA: Standard Oil Company of California, 1932.

This is the loudest and most fun object in the collection. Shake the polar bear-shaped trade card side-to-side and metal, concealed in its paws, bangs on a drum with a wooden center. Part toy; all advertisement.

Pontiac Value Comparison: A slide guide of motor car values. Detroit, MI: Pontiac, a division of General Motors Corp., [1934].

Pulling out a double-sided card under a die-cut slot compares the features of twenty-two different cars against three models of 1934 Pontiacs. Comparisons are made for horsepower, hydraulic systems, and location of the emergency brakes, as examples. List prices are also noted. A great deal of information is packed in a small space and handy when car shopping.

Cracker Jacks Midget Auto Race. Chicago, IL: The Cracker Jack Company, [ca. 1940s].

Spin the cardboard wheel with five numbered automobiles and you win when your number stops over the arrow on the base page. This is one of hundreds of movable Cracker Jack prizes. We all dug for the prize at the bottom of the box. How many of us saved them?

Faire de la corde raide, Monsieur Souffran est chose dangereuse …, [Tightrope walking, Monsieur Souffran, is a dangerous thing …]. France: Esso Motor Oil, [ca. 1950s].

This is a five-panel panoramic advertising brochure with Monsieur Souffran hanging on a string, with a v-fold gas station. Monsieur Souffran is a recurring character in a series of Esso Motor Oil movable advertisements with space to add a different gas station’s name

Nissan Pickup Pop-up Book. Yokohama, Japan: Nissan Motor Company, Ltd., [ca. 1986].

Nissan celebrated the launch of its newest pickup truck using the benefits of a pop-up book. Pulling the tabs allows the user to see how the doors open, the air conditioning gets distributed, and the flat bed folds down. The pop-up recreates the engine with its specs. “A picture is worth a thousand words.” A pop-up is worth more.

National Safety Tour—Buckle up with Sesame Street. Dearborn, MI: Ford Motor Company, 1998.

The triptych opens to a pop-up of Big Bird and Mr. Hooper’s store. The folder’s pocket contains a three-page press release announcing a program to teach auto safety to children and parents; a copy of CTW Sesame Street Parents magazine, sponsored by Ford, with general safety tips; Safety Advice, a pictorial double-sided color card insert; and a photo slide in a separate pocket, Sesame Street and Ford Teach Safety. This is an uncommon example of a promotional piece in the public interest.

The Safest Accident: A precautionary tale by Lexus. Japan: Lexus, a div. of Toyota, 2007.

The pop-up book is based on the TV commercial, highlighting the safety features of the Lexus. It has several mechanicals. A letter to the dealer states the pop-up book was “handmade using the actual visuals and script from the television commercial” and goes on to say that “these books are a creative approach to reach consumers and their children.” A DVD of the commercial is provided in a rear pocket. A video of the book is on YouTube.

The 2018 Camry. USA: Toyota Motor Sales, 2018.

Fifty thousand glossy battery-powered ads were inserted into the March 2018 issue of InStyle magazine for subscribers only. It is surely one of the most technologically ambitious advertisements ever devised. Fold back the gatefolds and put your thumbs on the metal discs of the simulated “door handles” while opening the ad further. The new Camry dashboard appears with a pop-up steering wheel and, amazingly, the user’s actual EKG moves across a screen. The intent is to show the user’s excitement by displaying an increased heartbeat. The ad also releases a new car smell. The ad was created by Structural Graphics which specializes in dimensional ads.