Take a look at this colorful poster, designed by Robert E. Lee, a California-born painter and commercial artist who lived in New York City, and published in 1929. The company advertised on this poster, the Railway Express Agency (REA), was an American package delivery service. Operating between 1918 and 1975, they used railroads as one mode of transportation.
The poster shows another leg of the REA’s national network, the delivery truck. The scene in the poster’s foreground, of a Railway Express employee delivering a package, is repeated as a poster on the side of the delivery truck. So, the poster itself is repeated as an advertising poster over and over within the poster!
The collections of the Prints & Photographs Division also include photographs showing REA operations. This 1943 Gordon Parks photo shows a truck decked out similarly to the one in the poster, with a Railway Express poster on its side:
The REA didn’t only advertise their own work on their vehicles. They supported the war effort by featuring an American Red Cross poster on a delivery truck in this photo taken in New York City in 1943:
Robert E. Lee used a similar color palette of orange and purple in another Railway Express Agency poster, also from 1929:
Can you spot the Railway Express Agency delivery truck in this crowded street scene?
- See other delivery trucks in the Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Collection.
- Explore digitized Red Cross posters within the Prints & Photographs Division’s collections.
- Revisit a Picture This series of blog posts on modes of transportation: Pictures To Go.