Saturday, September 8, 2018

Selling American Express Travelers Cheques in the New Yorker

In the days before credit cards came into widespread use, travelers checks offered a safer alternative to carrying cash. American Express Travelers Cheques—as they prefer to spell them— were promoted in a series of humorous advertisements which appeared in the New Yorker in the early 1950s. These ads featured a variety of cartoonists, many of whom had their work appearing in the magazine.

Tom Henderson was never a New Yorker cartoonist, but he contributed several cartoons to this advertising campaign. This one appearing in the New Yorker is quite amusing. 
"I don't care who you say you are. The only
checks we accept are American Express Travelers Cheques."

Tom Henderson
The New Yorker, March 3, 1951, page 61!#folio=060

Stan and Jan Berenstain are today remembered for their children's books, particularly those featuring the Berenstain Bears. They were not contributors to the New Yorker, yet their style fits in quite well with the magazine's. In 1951, they signed their work The Berenstains.
"We're not eloping till you're smart enough to
get American Express Travelers Cheques."

The Berenstains (Stan and Jan)
The New Yorker, April 7, 1951, page 119

Sam Cobean was a New Yorker regular. His cartoon for the advertising campaign is a grating experience.
"Gee, mister, you're old enough to know you ought to carry
your travel cash in American Express Travelers Cheques."

Sam Cobean
The New Yorker, May 19, 1951, page 57!#folio=056

Cartoonist Chon Day's contribution is a reminder that it's never too early in a marriage to have your first disagreement. He and the following cartoonists had their work published often in the New Yorker.
"She won't go anywhere until he gets
American Express Travelers Cheques."

Chon Day
The New Yorker, June 16, 1951, page 102

Richard Taylor's cartoon suggests that American Express Travelers Cheques may not be such a new idea after all.
"It says:                                                                         
'American Express Travelers Cheques accepted here'."

Richard Taylor
The New Yorker, August 11, 1951, page 69

William Steig's contribution is right out of his Small Fry playbook. In this popular cartoon series, young children typically imagine themselves in grandiose situations.
"And to insure the safety of your trip, Sir,
here are your American Express Travelers Cheques."

William Steig
The New Yorker, May 3, 1952, page 63

September 9, 2018 Update:  Cartoonist George Price is not afraid of heights.
"I told you this might happen. You should've carried
American Express Travelers Cheques—they're accepted everywhere!"

George Price
The New Yorker, July 3, 1954, page 47

"I told you this might happen. You should've carried
American Express Travelers Cheques—they're accepted everywhere!"

George Price
The New Yorker, July 3, 1954, page 47

Note:  New Yorker cartoonist Ed Nofziger contributed to this advertising campaign for American Express Travelers Cheques at least four times. See this work here on Ink Spill.

George Price contributed to this American Express advertising campaign in 1954, as shown above. See it also on Ink Spill with other outstanding Price ads here.

And speaking of Ink Spill, a better scan of the William Steig ad can be found here along with other Steig advertising work.

There might very well be other examples of this advertising campaign that were published in the pages of the New Yorker. Please inform me if you know of any such additional ads.

Stan and Jan Berenstain have not appeared on this blog before. Neither has Tom Henderson. The other cartoonists have, of course, and links to their work previously shown on the blog appear in aqua below. I would love to hear from anyone with original art by any of the cartoonists in this post.

Quick Links to the Attempted Bloggery Archives:

Sam Cobean

Chon Day

William Steig

Richard Taylor

The New Yorker


Attempted Bloggery's Checkered Index


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