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Enamel signs in argentine
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Enamel signs were a form of advertising, circa 1898–1960.
Enamel advertising signs document a time passed; they captivate immediately and wake up the memory of old brands, products, celebrities, catchphrases and resources never forgotten by the public.
Porcelain signs send a message with artistic values that confirm that advertising, on one hand, absorb the artistic tendencies in fashion and on the other, create them and even imposes them outside its specific dominion.
The modern poster (basically large format advertising with numerous prints) appeared during the mid XIX century, in France. Technical ingredients, styles and theory were quickly added to those primitive posters.
In a noticeable period characterized by inventions, talented discoveries, scientists and innovating entrepreneurs, Advertisements spread products with creativity, talent, fantasy, and rigor.
In addition to a strong European influence, that led to enamel signs being manufactured inside Argentina, during the mid-1950s due to the Revolution of 1955, thousands of enamel signs that were either in disuse or contained some kind of manufacturing error and were considered worthless arrived in Argentina from the United States for smelting.
They were transported in ships of the National Merchant fleet "Flota Mercante del Estado"(sailing under Italian flag) and stored as scrap iron in state depositories; most ended up in the Argentine province of Córdoba (where the countries national armament is produced at DGFM (Direccion General de Fabricaciones Militares)
The history of the cigarette in Argentina is closely tied with such Advertisements. Piccardo, the oldest tobacco company still on the market today was founded in 1898; the same year in which the first Ad agency of Argentina was established. Early in the 20th Century the cigarette already distinguished itself as a leader in advertisement. The best illustrators of the moment were recruited to create colorful and original prints for cigarettes.(Cigarettes 43, 1918). During the 30’s social status entered the scene by hand of a strong advertising campaign (chic people smoke Reina Victoria). The catchphrase quickly joined the great brands of the time such as: Geniol, Untisal, Toro, Cafiaspirina, Mejoral, Imparciales. a good catchphrase never dies, and in some cases it outlives the promoted product.
A drink, Hesperidina, ran the first full scale advertising campaign of the country, and this was the same year in which the Patents and Trademarks registry was established(1876). Beverages, opened the door to a whole new sector of Advertisement. Driven by the Hesperidina campaign and the arrival to the country of world-wide Food and Beverage names such as
- Real Hollands, Nestlé, Domecq, and Bols, among others.
Two Argentine illustrators and sketchers, Jose Freire Segundo, creator of gráﬁca de Aikal (1940); Jose Luis Salinas, were called upon by King Features to create a comic strip of world-wide fame, Cisco Kid. Florencio Molina Campos, the brilliant sketcher of the Alpargatas Almanacs of rural life (1930), collaborated in three Walt Disney films. Ernesto Fairhurst, author of the fine art illustrations of Escorihuela (1955); In those years, Buenos Aires was overflowing with creative drawings and design. The culmination was the arrival, in 1927, of Lucien Achille Mauzan from France, considered today one of the greatest all time poster artists along with: Toulouse Lautrec, Cheret and Leonetto Cappiello.
Mauzan created between 130 and 150 posters in the six years he spent in Argentina (1927–1932). One of those well-known works is the amicably tortured head of Geniol. It shows Italian futurism, in the way it depicts movement (Mauzan, Neumann House, circa 1930). And even the grotesque Italian theater in the Carpano poster, created by Mauzan, strongly evokes Florencio Parravicini.
Between the rich Argentine history as a pioneer in the creation and manufacture of porcelain signs, and the highly bureaucratic government process involved in the smelting and fabrication of armaments for resale many of these signs that arrived for smelting were either separated and safe guarded or simply abandoned in national depositories. For these reasons it is quite common to find in nearly any city or town throughout Argentina, posters and signs of companies and brands that never actively commercialized products in the region. Many of these brands are not even recognized by the local population as may be the case of: Budweiser, Adams Express, Humble, Mobiloil, Penzoil, Texaco, Life Savers, Sinclair, Signal, and many others.
Unfortunately enamel signs were losing their attractiveness and were rapidly being replaced by neon and other modern colorful signs. The local Posters and signs of famous artists like Leonetto cappiello and Lucien Achille Mauzan  which were once Argentine pride and joy as well as and the imported ad’s of European (Shell, Cinzano) and American companies fell into general disinterest of the public Luckily many can still be spotted throughout towns of the many argentine provinces. These are usually found hanging on walls or thrown in sheds and are rusty, dirty, and seldom given any economical or sentimental value which they so deserve.
Mauzan maintained that “Posters should be simple and visible from a far ”,as they “Are the big drum in the orchestra of the propaganda”, “They are shouts stuck on walls”, “In any Poster, the idea is everything”.