This is another case of an image that was inspired by and intended to capture the spirit of a bygone era being taken for the real thing. This one is posted all over the internet as an image of a vintage art deco poster from the 1930s, promoting Golden Sable Champagne. It is on blogs that celebrate vintage advertising, 1920s and 1930s culture, art deco illustration, and more. It is all over Pinterest as a vintage piece.
And why not? It has a lot of appropriate elements and it even features the 1936 date prominently.
And it seems consistent with other posters for the same brand of champagne from around the same time.
As beautiful as these posters are, however, and as well as they set a cultural and period tone, I wasn’t so sure they were vintage. The style recalled art deco, but seemed a little more modern. The human casting seemed a little more modern and the expressions on their faces a little more assertive than was usual for posters of the time. Plus, the colors seemed very fresh, the shading and lines fairly contemporary, and the use of drop-shadows pretty startling in the some of the other posters in the line.
Oddly enough, what really got me curious in the “1936” poster were the top hat (solidly on the woman, rather than at a loose angle as if she had just swiped it from her male companion) and the way the couple’s kiss is illustrated (less insouciant than I would expect).
Again, it turns out the original sources wasn’t too many steps removed from the posts which considered the piece to be vintage. I’d never heard of Golden Sable Champagne, so that’s where I started. Did such a thing even exist?
It definitely did not. The brand Golden Sable is the brilliant 2005 creation of graphic artist Poto Leifi, created for Editions, Ltd. as a vintage-style brand that could be used for contemporary posters and products with a 1920s and 1930s feel. Not vintage, not historical. These posters were intended to evoke the era in a fairly authentic way, but were certainly not intended to create a false history.
In this case, the use of the date as part of the image has unintentionally created an assumed provenance in the minds of many people. In an era in which images get passed around without any primary source attribution, we’re often left to draw our own conclusions.