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Philadelphia Bulletin - Beauty Contestant

Richard Decker

Here's a great slice of advertising history.

Richard Decker was primarily known as a cartoonist for the New Yorker, which published over 900 of his pieces, including 4 covers, over a period of some forty years.  Described by one author as "a virtuoso of the panoramic full-page gag,” in 1941 the Philadelphia Bulletin tapped him to create cartoons for an ad campaign that ultimately ran for 28 years -- one of the longest in history.  Each of these ads worked from the same premise: while a scene of some drama unfolds, everyone in the crowd, except one excited, skinny, balding fellow, is complacently reading their copy of the newspaper.  The caption is also consistent throughout:  "In Philadelphia nearly everybody reads The Bulletin."

This piece is a fairly polished preliminary drawing for one such ad.  The final version (not sold here) was published in a number of magazines, including the New Yorker's July 25, 1959 issue, where it appeared as a full page.  Apparently to distinguish it from its own cartoons, the New Yorker inserted the word "Advertisement" in parentheses below the caption.

Ink and ink wash on 17" x 13.5" paper.  The front of the piece contains handwritten notations, presumably the artist's, in the lower left and upper right corners.  The reverse side contains the artist's signature along with the notation "Philadelphia Bulletin Ad 1958."  Discoloration consistent with age.  There is a vertical crease down the center of the paper and another along the left side.  The paper also contains some staining in the top left and bottom right corners which do not impact the drawing.  Overall, this a beautiful piece, in good condition, and a steal at the listed price. 

Regular price $350.00

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