Monday, August 24, 2015

James W. Williamson's Charming Ford Model A Ads

The Ford Model A advertisement shown above was illustrated by James W. Williamson (1899-1978), a self-taught artist with a degree from Yale.

Ford had been building its famed Model T for many years, but by the mid-1920s its market share was being eroded by more modern competing cars. Eventually, even the stubborn Henry Ford had to concede that the T had to be replaced, as this Wikipedia entry indicates.

The new Ford required a new marketing approach, so in 1927 the famous N.W. Ayer & Son advertising agency from Philadelphia was hired to create advertising for the forthcoming Model A. In those days, most car ads did not use photography, so an artist needed to be selected. Henry's son Edsel was impressed by Williamson's work and had him hired as the advertising artist.

Williamson had a successful career stretching from the 1920s to the 1950s, though it was at its peak during the 20s and 30s. I could find little regarding him on the Internet aside from this biographical note. He was inducted into the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame in 1984, but their Web site contains no biography of him.

One thing that interests me regarding Ford Model A advertisements is that, although it was a low-priced car, the artwork usually showed Model A's in upper-class settings (note the floatplane in the image above). Moreover, many of the ads were placed in women's-interest magazines.

As for Williamson, he used a clean style and included charming, sometimes humorous details in his illustrations. And 85 years later, they provide a window into the life of a different, and possibly better, time.


* * * * * Cross-posted at Car Style Critic * * * * *

No comments: