On Exhibit: Oneida Silverware Ads by Coles Phillips, 1911-1924


            On exhibit through June 2016, “Oneida Silverware Ads by Coles Phillips, 1911-1924” curated by Tony Wonderley and Molly Jessup with panel work by Don Cornue, features the illustrations that helped disseminate the company name worldwide.

            Phillips dominated the advertising world during the 1910s with promotional imagery and magazine cover art showing up everywhere. The consummate pin-up artist of his day, he was renowned for picturing young, fashionable subjects. Some of Phillips' best ads were created for Oneida Community, Ltd., depictions so effective that they immediately boosted silverware sales and disseminated the company name worldwide.

            Illustrated in this exhibit are more than 30 of Phillips' Oneida ads including examples of his iconic "fade-away girl," an image in which a female subject blends into the background of the composition. Others showcase an attractive couple supplied with witty repartee by Oneida's advertising director, Burton "Doc" Dunn.

            The display includes a representative selection of advertising from 1913; the year Phillips created the most material for Oneida; as well as the central image of the 1915-16 campaign intended to "brand" the Oneida name. Featured is an original work demonstrating Phillips' skill with watercolors and his preference for live models.

            Contemporary with Phillips' imagery, Oneida was running other ads which presented flatware on lace backgrounds and photos of aristocratic dining rooms taken by Baron de Meyer. The viewer can compare these two bodies of advertising work and compare, as well, Phillips' Oneida oeuvre to the cover art he created for the magazine Good Housekeeping.

            Plenty of the items being advertised are on display. The selection of silverware includes examples of Georgian, the last pattern made in Niagara Falls, and Patrician, the first line of flatware produced at the new plant in Sherrill.

Thursday, December 10, 2015