• Statue of Liberty N.M.

    Statue Of Liberty

    National Monument New York

Popular and Commercial Culture

Although the Statue represents many political and social ideals, it has also been subject to the whims of advertisers, creative artists, and even tourist promoters. The Statue has been placed on everything from posters to trinkets. It is often seen not only as a symbol of the United States, but as one of New York City.

The Statue of Liberty in Advertising

 
A trade card for Nichols’ Bark and Iron Tonic, circa 1880s.
A trade card for Nichols’ Bark and Iron Tonic, circa 1880s.
National Park Service, Statue of Liberty NM
 
The image of the Statue of Liberty has been used for every conceivable commercial purpose. Bartholdi himself began it all by licensing her image in 1875 and urging French advertisers to use it. The Statue began appearing on the products and trade cards of American companies by 1877, nine years before it was unveiled. Since then, manufacturers around the world have not hesitated to use the Statue to sell everything from cigars to soap.
 
A political cartoon from Puck Magazine, circa 1880s, entitled “Let the Advertising Agents Take Charge of the Bartholdi Business and the Money Will Be Raised Without Delay.”

A political cartoon from Puck Magazine, circa 1880s, entitled “Let the Advertising Agents Take Charge of the Bartholdi Business and the Money Will Be Raised Without Delay.”

NATIONAL PARK SERIVCE, STATUE OF LIBERTY NM

The use of the Statue to sell products has been a source of discomfort and dissonance when Americans perceive the Statue of Liberty as being used inappropriately by advertisers. When advertising using the Statue contradicts the ideals of the Statue, or insults an important meaning of the Statue, the ad can come under fire from people trying to prevent the Statue's meaning from being diminished or diluted.

An early example of this critique of product ads obscuring the noble ideals of the Statue of Liberty is an editorial cartoon that appeared in Puck magazine during the funding campaign for the pedestal in the 1880s. The cartoon lampooned the way that advertising exploited any opportunity and symbol to sell its wares. It shows the Statue covered in advertisements for her top - wearing a "Silker the Hatter" top hat and holding a "Gamp & Co. Umbrella" - to her bare feet, which were flanked by competing ads for corn cures.
 

The Statue of Liberty as Souvenir

 
A souvenir plate, circa 1930s.

A souvenir plate, circa 1930s.

National Park Service, Statue of Liberty NM

The Statue has inspired souvenirs, pictures, postcards, and keepsakes of every imaginable variety. The souvenirs are as old as the Statue of Liberty itself. Images of the Statue were available at the dedication, much to the chagrin of Auguste Bartholdi, who had planned to collect royalties from the exclusive right to sell the Statue's image. So long as the Statue remains a powerful symbol and visitors continue making pilgrimages to this beloved monument, statuettes, replicas, and mementos will continue to be made in endless profusion. Souvenirs are mass-produced and their artists are generally anonymous. They can take on a multitude of forms.
 
A souvenir knife, circa 1900.
A souvenir knife, circa 1900.
National Park Service, Statue of Liberty NM
 
A Mohawk one-dial radio with a Statue of Liberty speaker frame, circa 1920s.
A Mohawk one-dial radio with a Statue of Liberty speaker frame, circa 1920s.
National Park Service, Statue of Liberty NM
 
A souvenir spoon with a likeness of the Statue of Liberty.
A souvenir spoon with a likeness of the Statue of Liberty.
National Park Service, Statue of Liberty NM
 
A souvenir lamp. The lampshade depicts the Statue of Liberty alongside buildings, boats, and trees.
A souvenir lamp. The lampshade depicts the Statue of Liberty alongside buildings, boats, and trees.
National Park Service, Statue of Liberty NM
 
souvenir model of the Statue of Liberty.
souvenir model of the Statue of Liberty.
National Park Service, Statue of Liberty NM
 

The Statue of Liberty in Popular Culture

 
A quilt manufactured by the Skiadas Brothers, circa 1985

A quilt manufactured by the Skiadas Brothers, circa 1985

National Park Service, Statue of Liberty NM

From the beginning, the Statue of Liberty has stirred the emotions of ordinary people, and has inspired folk artists and commercial manufacturers alike to depict and honor her. Through the years, the Statue's admirers have sewn, hammered, cut, molded, fired, printed, and painted her image on an extraordinary array of materials.
 
A whirligig made of copper by James Leonard in 1986. The work depicts the artist’s grandfather who jumped ship and swam ashore to reach the United States.
A whirligig made of copper by James Leonard in 1986. The work depicts the artist’s grandfather who jumped ship and swam ashore to reach the United States.
National Park Service, Statue of Liberty NM
 
Menorah with nine candle holding statuettes of the Statue of Liberty, circa 1986.
Menorah with nine candle holding statuettes of the Statue of Liberty, circa 1986.
National Park Service, Statue of Liberty NM
 

Did You Know?

Statue of Liberty's feet and broken chains

Freedom is not standing still. A symbolic feature that people cannot see is the broken chain wrapped around the Statue's feet. Protruding from the bottom of her robe, the broken chains symbolize her free forward movement, enlightening the world with her torch free from oppression and servitude.