Travel ads get the Taschen treatment (though if you own their All-American Ads series you'll have all these anyway) in this handsome oversize book. With just over four hundred ads showing the change from sea travel to jets, streamline trains to autos and the rise of the hotel chains round the world assuring tourists of uniform standards everywhere.
Ads from the early decades of the last century used illustrations to sell the luxury of liner travel or the ambience of a resort and even into the early sixties artists were still gently distorting reality. An interesting feature in many of the airline ads are the route maps, frequently irregular shapes and obviously difficult to design with. Pan Am and Panagra airlines had a neat solution by dropping their map into a large poncho (on page 266). Many of the airline ads in later decades use photos of stewardesses, probably the only opportunity to get sexy ladies into the ads. Streamline trains, fighting a losing battle with cars and planes, stressed the comfort, food and the passing scenery. An American Loco Company 1946 ad suggests that new trains will feature a movie theater, phones and playrooms for children. The ad has a big illustration of passengers watching a movie.
The images and headlines are obviously the grabbers for any ads but then the copy has to sell. Travel copy is no different in overselling the product and the flowery and clichéd text of what tourists can expect to see and do in foreign lands is worth a read. The Havana Hilton in 1959 was selling 630 lavishly appointed rooms, each with a large private balcony (what better place to watch the revolution from). Alaska in 1935 was selling itself as a place to play baseball at midnight without artificial light. Pan Am Blue Ribbon `El Presidente' service in 1950 served up a `...7-course Continental dinner with vintage wines'.
The book is lovely print job, as you would expect from Taschen. The ads are divided into eight chapters from 1900 to 1999. Each has a short introduction and a neat text and graphic timeline running across the bottom of these pages. The ads are either one to a spread, a page or two on a page, all are dated. One annoyance is that there are several text heavy ads that are reproduced too small to read easily and sometimes next to a whole page picture ad, they should have appeared the other way round.
`20th Century Travel' will allow armchair travelers to easily escape to foreign lands in their transport of choice, designers and illustrators can check up on the typography of yesteryear and slick painting styles.
***TRAVEL THROUGH SOME INSIDE PAGES by clicking 'customer images' under the cover.