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Object Timeline

1992

  • Work on this object began.

2006

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2019

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Poster, Postage 29 cents, Crane 4 cents...U.S. Postage Multiples by Ten...Buy Crane, 1992

This is a Poster. It was firm: Chermayeff & Geismar Associates. It is dated 1992 and we acquired it in 2006. Its medium is offset lithograph on white wove paper. It is a part of the Drawings, Prints, and Graphic Design department.

This poster was designed by Bill Anton and Steff Geissbühler, partners in the firm of Chermayeff & Geismar, for the Massachusetts-based paper company, Crane & Company.
Anton and Geissbühler designed the poster as part of a campaign to promote Crane business papers for letterhead. According to the designers, the concept was to contrast the increasing cost of a mailing a business letter with the relatively stable price of Crane’s papers. They established this disparity by creating a field of 15 stamps, each representing a year when postage increased, over which an imprinted message in fluorescent green reads, “Postage 29¢ Crane 4¢”; the 4¢ fills the last spot in the lower right, where the 16th stamp would have appeared. Each 8½- by 11-inch stamp has perforated edges, as does the entire poster.
Anton and Geissbühler built the design on three elements: manipulating scale, reinterpreting the familiar, and pushing production techniques. By manipulating scale, from a stamp’s traditionally small size to the 8½- by 11-inch sizes featured on the poster, the designers generate surprise, impact, and a fresh perspective. The standard letterhead size in the United States is 8½- by 11-inches, which underscores the shift between the price of postage and the price of paper. Familiar, well-established American icons—the flag, a rose, Mount Rushmore—are appropriated and revived in the stamp imagery. Playing one element off against another alters our viewpoint and compels us to look and think again. This also allows the designers to focus and direct a viewer’s attention. In this case, something that owes its intimacy, in part, to scale is suddenly dramatized to reinforce the sales message: buy letterhead. The die cuts that form the perforated edges of each sheet are an impressive display of production capability and demonstrate the idea that every detail counts. The perforation also introduces a certain delicacy to the poster, which runs counter to the common idea of a poster needing to be tough and resilient to do its job.
The Anton and Geissbühler poster was the largest piece of an extensive promotional campaign for Crane. It was mailed to business firms folded in an 8½- by 11-inch clear envelope along with a miniature version of the poster on which each stamp was approximately actual size. The poster was presented in its own separate clear envelope. The promotion also incorporated a booklet designed by Geissbühler that itemized the costs of writing and sending a letter, including staff salaries, overhead, postage, and letterhead. The booklet cover was imprinted with the question “How much does it cost to send a letter?” This accompanied another piece in a small envelope imprinted with the same question, and an accordion fold-out also imprinted with the same itemized costs in order to emphasize the relatively low expense of letterhead within the total cost of mailing a letter.

It is credited Museum purchase from General Acquisitions Endowment Fund.

Its dimensions are

111.8 x 85.7 cm (44 x 33 3/4 in.)

It is inscribed

Printed in bright green, across upper half of sheet, right, "Poster 29 ¢; in bright green across lower half of sheet, right, "Crane 4 ¢," in black along right lower margin, "Design Chermayeff & Geismar Inc;" below stamps, across sheet in black: "1917-91 U.S. Postage Multiples by Ten...Now priced at 29 ¢ For a lone-ounce first class letter, a little postage stamp is a big deal, and a 4¢ Crane letterhead/a better value than ever. Letters have always been a major /part of business communication. They are a company's personal emissaries, and a lot of time/ and money are invested in crating and sending them. Still, your company's letterhaed is likely the only part of the process that people see. So why buy/ a letterhead that is less than the best? Trust your investment

Cite this object as

Poster, Postage 29 cents, Crane 4 cents...U.S. Postage Multiples by Ten...Buy Crane, 1992; Firm: Chermayeff & Geismar Associates (United States); USA; offset lithograph on white wove paper; 111.8 x 85.7 cm (44 x 33 3/4 in.); Museum purchase from General Acquisitions Endowment Fund; 2006-15-2

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18705677/ |title=Poster, Postage 29 cents, Crane 4 cents...U.S. Postage Multiples by Ten...Buy Crane, 1992 |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=20 October 2019 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>