OVERVIEW OF THE COLLECTION
Title: Albert W. Hampson Commercial Artwork Collection
Collection Date(s): 1926-1980, undated
Extent and Forms of Material: 5.33 cubic feet, including photographs, original artwork, point- of-purchase displays and slides (16 boxes, 13 oversize folders)
Creator: Albert W. Hampson
Abstract: Collection consists of the commercial artwork created by Albert W. Hampson predominately during the 1950s and 1960s.
Collection Number: AC0561
Processing Note: Processed by Jennifer Namsiriwan (intern) 2006, Jennifer Ann Danenberg (intern) 2007; supervised by Vanessa Broussard Simmons, archivist.
INFORMATION FOR USERS OF THE COLLECTION
Conditions Governing Access: The collection is open for research use.
Physical Access: Researchers must handle unprotected photographs with gloves.
Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use: Copyright held by the Smithsonian Institution. Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Reproduction permission from Archives Center: fees for commercial use. All duplication requests must be reviewed and approved by Archives Center staff.
Preferred Citation: [Title and date],Albert W. Hampson Commercial Artwork Collection, 1926-1980, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, box number X, folder number XX, digital file number XXXXXXX
IN-DEPTH INFORMATION ABOUT THE COLLECTION
Biographical History: Albert W. Hampson was born May 20, 1910, in West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He demonstrated artistic ability at an early age, winning all of the available school awards. Observing teachers encouraged him to pursue a career as an artist. His mother’s death and father’s unemployment forced him to get a job while still attending high school. He balanced work, school, and art all through his adolescence.
After his graduation from Northeast High School in June of 1927, Hampson pursued his art education at the Pennsylvania Museum School of Industrial Art (the University of the Arts) until June of 1931. While at the university, he was quarterback of the Germantown Boys Club football team and a semi-pro team in Chestnut Hill, and he attended the Cape Cod School of Art under a scholarship provision, for one year in 1930. Also during his education, and after graduation, Hampson earned a living by providing draft and architectural drawings for several Philadelphia architects. He was driving a bread wagon and preparing advertising layouts for a Philadelphia bakery, the Old Bond Bakery, when he got his first big break: one of his oil paintings was featured on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post on November 30, 1934. Between 1935 and 1944, his work appeared on the covers of Post and Look magazines more than a dozen times.
Hampson had been working as a commercial artist for a decade and was well established before marrying Josephine Unger Corson, a jewelry designer and librarian, on February 7, 1945. They had two children, Hillary, born 1945, and Theodore “Ted” born 1956.
In his personal life Hampson was known for his strong political opinions and work ethic, sometimes working eighteen hours a day. He did not believe in short-cuts, and his determination for perfection was evident in his do-it-yourself landscaping, according to his son. He spent time away from home, working five days a week in New York when Ted was young, but Hampson always brought gifts home and was ready for a discussion on politics. He was an active member of the Philadelphia Sketch Club, the oldest continuing artist organization in the nation. He was remembered by long-time colleague and friend, Fred Decker, as a staunch democrat (borderline socialist) who firmly publicized his views. This tenacious attitude provided him with the abilities of a great salesman, and knowing how to sell ideas can make a great commercial artist, as his son noted. He also had personal success as a father figure, according to Ted.
Hampson enjoyed a long and successful career as a freelance artist, staff artist, and art director for several New York and Philadelphia advertising agencies. He illustrated books and dust jackets and was a noted portrait painter. His work also encompassed commercial art, newspapers and magazines, point-of-purchase product displays, and he was employed by such noted corporations as Johnson & Johnson™, DuPont©, General Electric©, Hiram Walker & Sons Inc., & Philco Television©. Hampson credited his success to the Saturday Evening Post for giving him the courage to continue as an artist. He saved examples, along with scrapbooks, photographs and business correspondence, as a record of his work. Ted preserved his father’s collection after his death on February 19, 1990. His collection was donated to the Smithsonian on September 5, 1996 by Theodore “Ted” Hampson, who worked as a News Editor in Chicago until his death at forty–four years of age in 2000.
Scope and Content: The collection documents the creation of promotional and advertising materials through photographs, original artwork and completed print advertisements and point-of-purchase displays. The research value of the collection lies in the documentation of this process. Researchers will find that these materials demonstrate how ideas are conceived and then expressed by artists for their clients. Evidence of decision making and collaboration between the artist and the client is illustrated by elements such as color choices or model poses. Often this evidence is lost when the only record saved is the completed advertisement or display. A good example of the developmental/creative process, complete with finished product, is the Tung-Sol Radio Tubes project. Materials also demonstrate the variety and occurrence of advertising projects during the mid-twentieth century. The artist created documents and artwork for different markets, both the consumer and the company.
Materials are arranged first by parent company, then by product or brand name. However, there are a very small number of items, with obscure affiliations to a company listed by product name. Corporate ownership of many of these companies and products has changed since the era that Hampson was working in, but their historical application has been maintained in this container list. Researchers must research product or company names within their historical context.
Series 1, Personal Papers, 1928-1980, undated, includes personal papers, both biographical and autobiographical material. Biographical materials include articles that appeared in magazines about Hampson and a sketch of his life prepared by his son. Later in life, Hampson kept a diary noting contacts, daily activities, and even prices paid for items and services, which are included in this series. Additionally, there are some photographs of the artist, as well as materials from his high school and art training schools. Correspondence to Hampson and several copies of his resume are also included. This series incorporates the earliest records from the collection. These documents are organized by subject matter and provide background about the artist and his personal development.
Series 2, Early Artwork, 1926-1927, undated, contains Hampson’s earliest artwork, primarily pencil drawings, which appears to be work he did in art class and for his high school yearbook. The pencil drawings are representations of animals, some abstract designs and caricatures of people. These sketches illustrate his early involvement and raw talent. The material is arranged in chronological order according to dates noted by Hampson.
Series 3, Commercial Artwork, 1934-1969, undated, contains the bulk of Hampson’s life work, his commercial artwork, ranging from sketches to finished point-of-purchase displays. The commercial artwork has been arranged by genre including photographic materials, printed advertisements, sketches of point-of-purchase displays, point of purchase displays, and scrapbooks. Many of the same companies, projects, and even the same advertising slogans, are evident throughout each subseries, appearing several times, in several different forms. The appearance of these materials in the various stages helps to demonstrate the creative and evolutionary process of commercial artwork.
Subseries 1, Photographic Materials of Printed Advertisements and Point-of-Purchase Displays, undated, consists of photographs of completed printed advertisements and point-of-purchase displays. On a few of the photographs Hampson has noted his role in the advertisement or display process, but generally, there is little information relating to Hampson’s involvement in the process and almost no dating or referencing to use. The photographs are arranged in alphabetical order by name of company. The glass slides in box two were housed in a tin container and include an index. These materials were rehoused maintaining the original order.
Subseries 2, Printed Advertisements and Other Forms of Advertising, 1938-1969, undated, includes completed print advertisements that appeared primarily in newspapers and magazines. Most of these items do not have samples or mock-ups that would show the evolution of creating these advertisements. This series also contains other forms of advertising, for example, circulars, brochures, proofs, copies, premium books, and mailing pieces. Most of these materials are the completed products, and therefore they do not show much of the developmental process between client and artist. These materials also contain large signs, flyers, and building/store-window advertisements, primarily housed in the larger boxes and are finished products, without documentation of the creative process. The advertisements are arranged in alphabetical order by name of company. A few items are listed by product, if they are more well-known by product name than by company.
Subseries 3, Sketches and Renderings of Point-of-Purchase Displays, undated, consists of some materials that are incomplete, unsigned, lacking in dates or references to use. This might suggest that Hampson drew general advertising ideas, possibly with no specific company in mind, or that he created an advertisement with the intention of pitching his idea to several companies with a corresponding product line. Most sketches are intended for a specific company, and this can be verified by looking through the materials and identifying the matching completed advertisement. The drawings are organized alphabetically by company when possible and unidentified items are found at the end.
Subseries 4, Point-of-Purchase Displays, 1938-1958, undated, includes completed point-of- purchase displays; few have samples or mock-ups showing the evolution of creating these displays. Some displays are worn from use. They are arranged in alphabetical order by name of company or brand name.
Subseries 5, Scrapbooks, 1948, undated, are a compilation of sketches and advertisements arranged by Hampson to show his work, much like a portfolio. Most of the materials are undated and have been kept as Hampson organized them, possibly in chronological order of when they were completed, but otherwise, having no recognizable order.
Series 4, Artwork for Covers of Publications, 1937- 1950s, undated, includes two subseries consisting of illustrations Hampson did for magazine covers and novel dust jackets. Because these illustrations involve topical subject matter, they are excellent examples of his artistic ability directly translating to a practical medium (not through advertising or sketches of inanimate objects). Materials are arranged alphabetically by the title of the publication.
Subseries 1, Magazine Covers 1937-1942, consists of materials for Saturday Evening Post and Look Magazines. These are finished covers with no reference to the creative process. The materials are arranged first in alphabetical order by name of publication and then in chronological order.
Subseries 2, Novel Dust Jackets, 1940s-1950s, undated, include the artwork for novel dust jackets. The artwork is fairly generic and indicative of the 1940s and 1950s. These novels also seem to be targeted at a female audience and were published by Macrae Smith, Penn Publishing Company, and Lippincott. There are also numerous authors, predominantly female, such as Blanche Smith Ferguson, Dorothy Black, and Jane Abbott. Some drawings have multiple productions, showing the creative process and some are only the finished product. The jackets are organized alphabetically by title.
Series 5, Portraits, 1951-1977, undated, contains Hampson’s portrait work. Some sketches are included, which demonstrate changes throughout his process of painting the portraits. There is also a newspaper article regarding one of the portraits. About half of the portraits are identified. The smallest series in this collection, the materials are arranged in alphabetical order by the name of the individual.
System of Arrangement: The collection is arranged in five series.
Acquisition Information: The collection was donated to the Archives Center, National Museum of American History in September 1996 by Hampson’s son, Theodore Hampson.