|Text on Button||AINT I CUTE|
Red text on a white background with a blue and white checkered outer edge
|Year / Decade Made|
“Ain’t I cute” cheekily asks the reader to confirm that the wearer of this slogan is indeed cute. It is one of a series of suggestive novelty buttons issued by Johnson Smith & Company in the 1930s. The buttons in this series all share the visual features of blue and white alternating rectangles around the perimeter of the button with red sans serif font boasting flirty expressions. The frivolous and fun nature of these buttons and other novelty goods produced in the 1920s and 1930s was purported by Johnson Smith & Co. as “provid[ing] an escape for people wracked with economic struggle brought on by WWI and the Great Depression” (Johnson Smith Company, LinkedIn).
Johnson Smith & Co. originated in 1914 as a novelty item mail-order company based in Chicago, IL. The company later moved to Racine, WI, Detroit, MI, and ultimately, Bradenton, FL. Though their website is now defunct, it was active as of 2012. Johnson Smith & Co. often advertised in print media aimed at young adults such as Action Comics, Boys’ Life, Popular Mechanics, and MAD. These ads and larger catalogs were influential in the development of American graphic design.
Johnson Smith Company. (n.d.) About Us. LinkedIn. Retrieved October 15, 2020, from, https://www.linkedin.com/company/johnson-smith-company.
Ted Hake. (n.d.) Johnson Smith Famous Novelty Supply House 1930s Suggestive Slogan Button. Ted Hake. Retrieved October 15, 2020, from, https://www.tedhake.com/JOHNSON_SMITH_FAMOUS_NOVELTY_SUPPLY_HOUSE_1930s….
Sedelmaier, J.J. (2012, April 9). Amazing X-Ray Glasses And 9000 Other Novelties – Johnson Smith & Co. PRINT. Retrieved October 15, 2020, from https://www.printmag.com/post/amazing-x-ray-glasses-and-9000-other-nove….