Great Ideas of Western Man: Fifty-Two Advertisements


Before we put inspirational maxims on pillows, the Container Corporation of America was placing full-page advertisements in notable magazines, each with an inspiring observation about the nobility of democracy and western civilization. Designed by a notable (or, once-notable) designer, here are the first fifty-two ads in the series. These ads are loose and grouped into four portfolios: 1950–51, 1951–52, 1952–53, and 1953–54, and then the whole was issued in a slipcase. Our slipcase is in not-great condition. It’ll keep everything together, but it’s bumped, bruised, and fragile. But the insides are fine. Anyway, the portfolios contain ads by the sort one would expect to see in the early 1950s: Herbert Bayer, Herbert Matter, Jan Tschichold, Joseph Lowe, Ben Shahn, Leo Lionni, Paul Rand, and so on. But there were some surprises, too, like Philip Guston and even a woman! (Esther Louise Peck.) A fascinating archive of not only mid-century design, but what ideas people (i.e. men) thought were worth promoting. 

Note: Although we’ve only shown the cover of the first portfolio above, we have all four of them and they are included. It just seemed like a waste to show all of them. Don’t believe we have them? Watch this.

  • Size: 11.125 × 13.125 inches (loose prints)
  • Pages: 52 leaves
  • Binding: Four portfolios in a slipcase
  • Condition: Prints are mostly fine with some bumps and bruises but nothing that distracts. Scuffing to the portfolios but nothing one wouldn’t expect to see from something this old. The slipcase is in tough shape. See photos.
  • Publisher: Container Corporation of America, 1954