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The Artistry of Vintage Elna Ads

Posted by James Wolfensberger on

Vintage Elna magazine ads, posters, and cards are some of the most beautifully designed and rendered of all the vintage marketing.

Many have a distinctive pop-art feel, very European and distinctly different from the marketing employed by Elna's most significant American competition, Singer. While Singer's ads typically featured illustrated and photographed attractive women, Singer's marketing visuals emphasized a practical elegance, mainstream fashion, and family. Elna meanwhile advanced their style to include large, brightly colored graphical art without an emphasis on the product you create from their machines. Elna ads came to represent the perceived exclusivity of owning an Elna, while Singer ads seemed to suggest, "Of course everyone owns a Singer."

Vive Ste. Anne!

Saint Anne is considered the patron saint of seamstresses, and the phrase Vive Ste. Anne! appeared on the trading cards of many brands during the Victorian era and this trend continued into the mid 20th century. As postcards replaced trading cards as a marketing vehicle, we see fewer references to Ste. Anne. Elna was no exception to this trend but managed to apply their own style to the cards.

Familiar Beauties

Some of Elna's ads indeed share the traditional theme of an illustrated, pretty, seemingly familiar young woman who is easily presumed to be a homemaker and wife - or certainly the ideal bride of the times.

A Bold Design, A Familiar Concept

Stepping beyond the tradition of marketing centered around delicately illustrated beauties, Elna widened their impact with these striking designs relying on less "fine art" influence. Colors are bold and shading is less nuanced, less realistic. It is easy to imagine artwork like this accomplished in graphics software in this digital age. Still, the central theme remains the delight of the Elna owner.

The following two images were also featured in our creepy ads article.

What, No Pretty Girls?

These posters forego the young homemaker entirely, instead focusing on pure brand recognition with a novel, graphical art style. While the first image centers on the unique shape and color of the Elna 1 "Grasshopper," the following two posters rely on imagery normally unrelated to sewing: a die and a painter - the latter representing the very artistry behind these types of ads in a whimsical, unexpected if not ironic theme.  

Child's Play? Just Clothe Her, Please!

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