Published: October 17, 2000
Selling the Colonial Image at SPNEA
BOSTON, MASS. – “: Selling the Colonial Image” opens October 25 at the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities’ (SPNEA) gallery at One Bowdoin Square. The exhibition examines how advertisers have used romanticized imagery about America’s past to sell commercial products, and will be on view through April 2001.
“It’s Colonial and You Can Have It,” was the pitch made to American consumers by countless manufacturers and advertisers following the celebration of the country’s Centennial in 1876. Not only could they have it, they could sit on it, sleep on it, eat it, drink it, wash with it and even wear it.
Drawn largely from the SPNEA’s Library and Archives, “” includes reproductions of late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century product catalogues, trade cards, advertisements, calendars and posters, as well as other objects that depict a fanciful interpretation of colonial and patriotic imagery.
This arrangement of ephemera illustrates how entrepreneurs capitalized on the Colonial Revival movement following the Centennial to sell everything from gelatin to insurance. The exhibition looks at the marketing of products in eight categories: architecture, food, appliances, silver, clothing, furniture and other household products. The final category, Priscilla, looks at how Mayflower pilgrim Priscilla Alden became an icon of Puritan ideals whose name was used to sell any number of products.
SPNEA’s gallery is open free to the public, Monday through Friday, 10 am to 4 pm. The gallery is located on the first floor of Bowdoin Square, at the corner of Cambridge and New Chardon streets.
On Monday, November 6, Professor Tobe Berkovitz of Boston University will give a free illustrated lecture, “A Pilgrim’s Progress Selling Products: Use of Pilgrims and Patriots in Twentieth Century Advertising.” at the gallery at 6:30 pm. Call 617/227-3957, ext 270, to register.
The Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities, headquartered in Boston, is a museum of cultural history that preserves, interprets and collects buildings, landscapes and objects reflecting New England life from the Seventeenth Century to the present. For information, visit the museum online at www.spnea.org.
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