Leaflet, trade card, and envelope of the Vacuum Oil Company, Rochester, ca. 1880s. Gift of Helen Beitler.
These pieces of commercial ephemera were issued in the 1880s by the New York oil company established in 1866. The company employed different design aesthetics to appeal to its customers. Familiar imagery like the gentleman and his dog, simultaneously genteel and pastoral, was used, as well as the very different illusionary Gaslight Style, seen in this vividly colored engraved circular and subtly shaded embossed envelope. Vacuum Oil, now a part of ExxonMobil, took advantage of every opportunity to attract attention and stay competitive. Around the time of these advertisements, two of the company’s owners were convicted of attempting to blow up the works of their competitor Buffalo Lubricating Oil Company.