Monday, December 04, 2006

In Praise of Zippos (Part 2) ... and Enoch Bolles

I got a really wonderful early Christmas gift on the weekend from frequent TI blog reader and sometimes commentor, Illustration magazine author Jack Raglin. Jack sent some beautiful Christmas-themed scans from his Enoch Bolles collection...
and a fascinating anecdote about Bolles and Zippo lighters. With Jack's permission - and in his own words, here's the story and the scans... The Case of the Willfully Mistaken Identity of an Illustrator."I saw your recent blog on Zippo", writes Jack, "and wanted to send you a scan of the first Zippo Windy girl ad, which has an interesting story behind it. The illustration first appeared in 1937 and was credited to Enoc Boles (sic) but in all subsequent ads that used the image the acknowledgement was dropped. In 1993 Zippo resurrected the Windy image for a special edition lighter, but called it the Varga girl Zippo. They went so far as to dream up a false back story about how Vargas painted Windy at the request of the president of Zippo, who was a big fan. This is unlikely as Vargas was virtually unknown in the mid-30s and living in California. More likely he wanted Petty but couldn't afford him so Bolles was the alternative. The entire story of this ad appears in an article I wrote about Bolles for a past issue of Illustration magazine."

In a follow-up email, Jack writes, "The story for me is sad as this is by far Bolles' most reproduced image, yet the credit went where it didn't belong. I confronted the historian at Zippo and she admitted that the Vargas story was a complete fabrication (while still claiming that the president of Zippo wanted Vargas instead of Bolles). This story was part of the bio I wrote on Bolles in Illustration issue nine (I also wrote a short history of artists who worked for Film Fun in issue 14)."

Many thanks to Jack for sharing this interesting little slice of illustration history. For those who wish to read Jack's article in its entirety, click on the Illustration Magazine link in my sidebar for ordering info. Jack also has a book in the works on Enoch Bolles and has promised to notify us when it becomes available for purchasing.

You'll find these and a handful of additional images (courtesy of my buddy, Dan Fell) in my new Enoch Bolles Flickr set.


  1. Jack "confronted the historian at Zippo"?

    There is a Zippo historian????

    Is this a great country or what?

  2. Anonymous11:32 AM

    Yep. Zippo does have a person in this capacity, and I asked point blank what gives with the phony Vargas connection. She also said that Blaisdell (the president of Zippo) had the original painting hanging in his office for years, but it has since disappeared.

  3. Heh - David; I recommend the movie "Thank You For Smoking" - though a fiction, I don't doubt it comes frighteningly close to painting an accurate picture of the reality of the tobacco - and related - industries. The surprising thing isn't that Zippo has a historian, its that Zippo doesn't have an entire Ignition and Combustion Materials Research and Education Department! ;-)

  4. Another great post to start the week off. Love Bolles.

  5. Thanks Dom - L ;-)

  6. I recall a famous advertising campaign that Zippo ran in the 50's & 60's, extolling their lighter's durability by relating true stories of users having their Zippo's lost in the belly of a great white shark or something equally fantastic, & turning up years later; working perfectly on the first click. I'm sure the Zippo historian (not to be confused with the Zeppo, Harpo, Chico, or Groucho historian) has plenty of info on this campaign.

    By the way, you gotta love Enoch Bolles. His women are great!!

  7. Anonymous10:45 AM

    A great artist... Enoch Bolles