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The Ingenious Way Push Pin Advertised Its Design Services In The Rotary-Phone Era

Essential phone numbers and display type by Milton Glaser and Seymour Chwast, all in one retro poster.

The Ingenious Way Push Pin Advertised Its Design Services In The Rotary-Phone Era

Push Pin–the graphic design studio founded in 1954 by Milton Glaser, Seymour Chwast, and Edward Sorel–was well-versed in the art of self promotion. To get their fledgling firm off the ground and attract the clients they wanted to work with, they mailed zines to 3,000 art directors around New York. But the Push Pin Almanak, as it was know, wasn’t the only way they got the word out about their capabilities.

See the full graphic here. via Print

To let prospective clients know about their display fonts that could be ordered from the type house Photolettering Inc. in a matter of hours, Push Pin created an “essential phone numbers” poster using their offerings. Back in the studio’s heyday, there was no Google to look up businesses and numbers, no Contacts list stored in a phone–just a rotary handset and the Yellow Pages. The poster was a bit of clever marketing masquerading as an essential list to keep the digits for your hypnotist, barber, laundromat, and tailor handy. It’s a relic from landline era that would never get made today.

The great graphic design historian and critic Steven Heller mused about this genius poster over at Print: “If you were designing like Push Pin in those days, this was a necessary studio or office accessory. Indeed one of the cleverest type specimens I’ve seen in quite a while.”

See the full poster here.

About the author

Diana Budds is a New York–based writer covering design and the built environment.



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