There are few things I like better than functional specificity, and it doesn't get much more functionally specific than a business called the Tubular Rivet and Stud Company. They sent the letter shown above, another treasure from our ongoing look into the Hoge Brush Company files.
The letter pretty well speaks for itself. What interests me is the letterhead design, which shows an aerial view of Tubular Rivet and Stud's vast factory complex. This was a common mid-century letterhead motif (we've seen it in one of the previous letters to Hoge Brush, and it appears on several other letters I'll eventually be presenting in this series), capturing the essence of America's smokestack-driven industrial might.
I've always believed, perhaps naively, that the factories shown in these illustrations were accurate representations of the companies on whose letterhead they appeared. So when I saw the sprawling complex depicted on the Tubular Rivet and Stud letter, I thought to myself, "Wow, they must have been making a lot of rivets!" But then I began to feel a creeping skepticism. Nobody needed that big a factory just to make rivets, right? What a sucker I'd been to believe that these letterhead illustrations were authentic representations — they were probably just stock renderings!
I wanted to know what Tubular Rivet and Stud's factory really looked like, so I started poking around on the web. The company no longer exists, but I quickly found an old promotional piece with another overhead factory shot (click to enlarge):
I initially thought this illustration showed a completely different factory complex than the one shown on the letterhead. Upon closer inspection, however, they do appear to be the same facility (click to enlarge):
Hmmmm, so does that mean this was truly the Tubular Rivet factory, or does it simply mean that they consistently used the same bogus representation? I poked around a bit more and found two photos that show very limited views of the company's plant in 1919 (click to enlarge):
At first I thought there was no way to match up these photos with the letterhead illustration, because the photos provided such tight views. But it turns out that one of them does appear to match a section of the illo. Check it out (click to enlarge):
Okay, I'm convinced — the factory shown on Tubular Rivet and Stud's letterhead was an accurate representation of their facility. But what about other companies? Did any of them use stock factory renderings, or were they all legit? If anyone knows more about this aspect of mid-century letterhead design, please feel free to enlighten me.
(My continued thanks to Joanna and David Zwiep for sharing the Hoge Brush Company letters with me.)