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
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.
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
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.
The Statue of Liberty in Popular Culture
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.
Last updated: June 7, 2018