NEW YORK – The Ross Art Group Inc., a Midtown New York gallery, has announced the exclusive exhibit and sale of an outstanding collection of original Mather & Company American Work Incentive Posters, created in 1927. Celebrating the American workforce and our nation’s industrial growth in the 1920s, these posters were originally designed as incentives for American factory and office workers. Each colorful poster is an original work of art that was created using stone lithography and printed in Chicago. A total of 64 make up the rare collection being offered for sale as one grouping.
During this political year, when the state of American jobs, labor and the economy are important topics of discussion in town halls, debates and political forums, the collection of Mather Work Incentive posters allow us to reminisce of a simpler time in American labor history when jobs and labor forces were synonymous with words like loyalty and longevity. The Mather and Company produced work incentive posters to motivate employees in factories and businesses across the United States from 1923-1929. Led by entrepreneur Seth Seiders, the privately owned Mather and Company ran a Chicago-based operation that sold products to managers and foremen to help mold their workers into the ideal workforce.
Every week, a new poster would have been displayed in a central location in a factory or a business for all workers to see. Each included a colorful image along with a somewhat concise message using humor. Selling ideas rather than products, Mather and Company posters set out to improve productivity, quality and encourage worker initiative, as well as eliminate waste within each company. Mather salesmen highlighted the idea that each poster could stop a “10 cent leak per worker per day,” potentially saving businesses hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars per week.
All posters offered are original from 1927 and were actually used in a factory in the Northeast. Each poster has stood the test of time remarkably well and have recently been mounted onto linen and professionally restored. The images include football, baseball, auto racing, horse racing, health, loyalty and patriotism. Each measures 36 inches by 48 inches. The collection includes a total of 64 of the 78 made in 1927.
Taking advantage of this bold visual format, Mather and Company touted that their poster could transcend language or literacy barriers, getting each lesson across to a workforce that was radically changing during the 1920s, as immigrants to the U.S., African-Americans and women became a mainstay of the American factory workforce. lthough these groups were largely absent from the images of the posters themselves, the text and images of each piece acted as a guide for the worker, with a weekly explanation of how to not only survive, but also succeed within his or her work-life. Mather and Company provided a product through which institutionalized modes of behavior could be taught. The posters repeatedly extol the virtues of hard work, efficiency and representative of their time, proper American behavior.
The sales list for these exquisite posters included such giants as General Motors, the Kellogg Company and Kodak. They also extended their reach across the U.S. into Canada and even England during the latter part of the 1920s. It wasn’t until the Great Depression that these posters ceased to be produced. The Ross Art Group New York will display the collection at its gallery, 532 Madison Ave., 4th Floor – at the corner of 54th Street.