Brilliant Mecano #representationmatters

November 26, 2016 § Leave a comment

#representationmatters OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

47.5″ x 30.5″
Printed circa 1895 in France by Imp. Emile. Pecaud. Cie
Original Stone Lithograph
Fine Condition with light folds, professionally restored
Tax Stamp in bottom right quadrant

A jolly line of Caucasian servants smile as jugs of metal polish are delivered to them by African servants. Translation of the label: Brillant Mecano- a liquid polish is ‘without acid’ that can polish all metals and is made in France. The Chauffeur is eager to have his share to polish his master’s carriage or automobile, the Butler wants a jug to make the door knocker of the estate shine, the House Maid wants the polish for silver, and the Footman has plans to buff the horse’s gear to a high shine.

Our show #representationmatters makes the point that nothing hides from ephemera. Cultural attitudes, norms and stereotypes are recorded in graphic form in advertising posters, and we have a collection of material to explore over the length of our show.

Brillant Mecano is the oldest poster on display in our current show. This poster was created in the 1890’s, The Belle Epoque Era, which was the hey-day of the French advertising poster. The image of the big- lipped African children serving servants is shocking today because of its bald representation of class and race.

  1. There is a wall between the African child servants and the white servants
  2. The African child servants do not smile, their expressions show trepidation
  3. The African child servants are working and their work looks hazardous as evidenced by the ladder and the chemicals they are spilling
  4. The white household staff are smiling and touching each other
  5. The white household staff are receiving an aid to their work

Object Label 1

This post was written by Elizabeth Norris, VEPCA collector

#representationmatters is the current show in the VEPCA showroom
The show runs from October 1, 2016-March 15, 2017

Vintage European Posters, Established 1997
Member, IVPDA
Our Shop: 2201 Fourth Street, Berkeley Corner of Allston Way
Winter Hours:
Tuesday – Thursday 11-5
Closed on Thanksgiving
Open Every Weekend until Christmas
Saturdays 11-6, Sundays 11-5

Also available by appointment

Contact us 510 843 2201 or email

Visit our collection on the web at





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