Mannequin Intervention Blog
Updated: Jul 5, 2018
CHAPTER ONE - THE RAINBOW
I decided to start a blog today with the thought that there must a positive ending somewhere for everyone who has been feeling anxious and upset about children being removed from their mothers and fathers. Join me on a quick journey to get away from the problems of the day for a minute and go back to a time in history when life was slower and discuss how stores advertised and displayed their merchandise. Our goal is to share some whimsical photos, instructions and advise from the 1900's in an brief effort to forget our modern day issues for a minute, and maybe inspire a new visual along the way. If you're a first time visitor to our site, welcome and thank you for checking us out. If you're returning to see what's new, glad to have you back!
The creative title known as the Displayman was the position held in a dry goods store or mercantile in the early 1900's. These were men who were artistic, crafty, mechanical and had the vision needed to sell merchandise. Women did enter into the field until later, but I have yet to find the exact year in which they were allowed to work in this profession. If anyone has that information, please let me know.
Beginning in the early 1900's, the same time that L. Frank Baum was writing "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz", he was also writing a complete manual of window trimmings to educate display men on the details of display art under the name Lyman F. Baum. He had begun writing a magazine in 1897, titled "The Show Window" encouraging retail window design, supplying selling strategies and providing visual merchandising tips. That magazine eventually was called the "Merchant's Record and Show Window". His display book was titled "The Art of Decorating Dry Goods Windows and Interiors" by Lyman F. Baum, had a dark green cloth cover and was 404 pages chock full of information.
A few years ago, I found a copy "The Art of Decorating Show Windows and Interiors", which is the 4th edition (1906-1909) of this book and published by The Merchants Record Company. Back in 1900, there were three grades of advertising, the street crier who shouted out all the sales and informed the townswomen and men to "buy, buy, buy"; the local newspaper; and the store window. They often worked together, having the print newspaper "tell what was for sale" and the store window "show what is for sale".
This edition also contains 404 pages of instruction and vintage photos, some I'll share on this blog. My hope is to shed light on the early days of display art and discuss what was considered popular display tactics during the turn of the century, as well as, the materials considered "necessary for an effective display".
Below you will see a vintage photo of page 338 this book which showed an elaborate Christmas window featuring period Christmas toys and artwork adapted from "Father Goose" which Baum collaborated with illustrator W.W. Denslow in 1899.
As you can see, it's a busy window with many toys and items hanging from the top frame of the window and around all the sides. It doesn't look exquisite in this modern day, but I feel it must have been magical in 1900 from the street view. How many mothers, fathers and children strolled by this window and peered in to see the new toy arrivals to add to Santa's List for Christmas?