Paul Stanley Co. Motion Displays

In the post-war period following World War II, the US was rife with growth, with many start-up companies getting off the ground, fueling economic growth which would propel America to a dominant position in the world which it holds to this day. Some of those companies which came into existence catered to the brewing industry, such as Lakeside Plastics which began in Duluth, MN in 1949. Another company, one which little is now known, was the Paul Stanley (NOT the KISS guitarist) & Company, who’s founder, Paul Stanley, started the business in San Francisco, CA in the late 1940’s. Mr. Stanley’s idea was to design large floor type motion displays for vendors of consumable products-displays which were of such size and effect as to leave little doubt they would catch the consumers eye when displayed in prominent distribution locations. These displays were large, mechanically complex in their design and construction, and were designed and themed to the particular company for which they were intended.

The many varied displays created by Stanley from the late 40’s to the late 60’s were produced for companies such as soft drink maker Pepsi, as well as the Hamm’s, Lone Star, and Burgie brewery brands. Each display was crafted by hand, and amongst even like type units there proved to be slight variances in design, function, etc. Some similar or like-type displays would have additional pieces, differing bases, and slightly different functions. Whether this was due to design changes over the production life of the individual units, subject to personal whim during the actual period of construction, or other reasons is lost to time. But it is apparent that few of each type were built-depending on the unit, possibly as few as 10-40 individual pieces-making each a unique and entertaining treasure in the collecting world.

The Hamm’s Brewery did business with the Stanley Company during the 1960’s, and four distinct displays were designed and built, with one having two variations. The Helicopter display (pictured) is the most animated of the five, and stands approximately 6 ½ feet tall, with an operating circumference of around ten feet. The entire unit slowly revolves from the light up base (displaying three scenes of the Land of Sky Blue Waters), with the “helicopter” spinning independently from the base revolution, while the overhead prop and tail rotor turn. It is aptly stated in the excellent breweriana/distillery (display) book Mom and Pop Saloons, “This is perhaps the ‘Ultimate’ in store displays…Classic whimsey {sic}!”. It is a remarkable piece of motion advertising-creative, unique, complex, and classic-a timeless piece which today, due to cost restraints, you simply will not find anything like it produced. Other displays developed for Hamm’s were the Bear/Can Spinner, the Bear/Motorcycle, and the Bear/Log in two versions-the “Eastern” or “Northwoods” unit, and the “Western” (yes, our bruin is a Cow-bear…). All of the units featured motion, as they revolved around the stationary base. Additionally, although these displays were large and heavy, some were also meant to be elevated using a heavy steel pole attached to the underside of the base, raising the entire base and display several feet in the air. By doing this it allowed for them to be seen store-wide, even in the largest of super markets, and it cleared the area underneath the unit for many (many) six or twelve packs of Hamm’s to be stacked and displayed. As an example, note the picture of the Hamm’s Motorcycle display in the photograph obtained from the May-June 1965 Reflections magazine. This photo shows an elevated motorcycle display in the Jay Vee liquor store, then located in Berkeley, CA. Posing alongside the stacker is none other than Mr. Paul Stanley, along with Mr. Ed Jensen-West Coast promotion manager for Hamm’s. Mr. Stanley would appear to stand 6’ plus, meaning the base unit would be approximately that height as well, making the total height of the display around 11-12 feet. Do you think you would have noticed that when you walked through the front door-possibly even been drawn to it for a closer look? And once you were there, with your mood suddenly lifted by the fun and animated display, would you have decided to reach down and grab a six or two of cool, refreshing Hamm’s…? If your answer is possibly yes, and this were repeated numerous times each day, then the display would have proven to be a wise investment-drawing countless customers to the product, which is exactly what was intended.

These displays were costly, even to the large companies purchasing them. As such they were moved frequently from store to store, with the focus being to provide these displays to the largest sellers of Hamm’s. This would enable those retailers to set aside large sections of their store for temporary promotions-hopefully to be maintained after the Stanley unit was removed-possibly by using a nice but lesser display such as a paper/cardboard or vacuform stacker, in order to continue the focus on the Hamm’s product.

The Stanley Company appears to have ceased operations in the late 1960’s-a reference indicates there were no business records found after 1968. And Paul Stanley, the company founder and designer whose name and legacy lives on with these amazing displays, passed away in the middle 1980’s.

After the hey-day of Hamm’s had passed, and the Paul Stanley Company closed its doors, what happened to the great motion displays produced by Stanley for companies such as Hamm’s, Burgie, Lone Star, and Pepsi?

Stanley displays appear to have been scattered individually or in small numbers across the country, many most likely put into storage in whatever location they were at once their useful life was realized. Over time they would turn up, finding their way into the hands of collectors, auctioneers, and others who simply liked the unusual and whimsical. The past several years have seen a few pop up; a couple on ebay, others at various auctions. Two years ago five displays became available in Michigan, and very recently one appeared in LA.

I have been fortunate to have acquired a number of Stanley units of various types, both Hamm’s and others such as Burgie, Lone Star, etc. And, like signs built by Lakeside and other manufacturers from the 1950’s to the 1970’s, I have found the Stanley displays incorporate a creativity and imagination, as well as excellent design, engineering and manufacturing, the likes of which (for the most part) is not seen in point-of- purchase items produced today. These units were built to last, and were durable enough to not only to stand up to repeated use over the years of their expected lifetime, but still function well today. And while some come to me in good to excellent original condition, others are in need of restoration-anywhere from minor to more major-but I have familiarized myself with them to the point that no matter how challenging the restoration, it can be done and done well.

These units are large, very animated, and are amongst the most unique advertising pieces ever built. I am always interested in any further information on the Stanley Company or its people, products, pictures or parts. I’d also like to thank Mike Frye, for allowing me to utilize his expertise and information on the Stanley Co.



Ebay Breweriana

US $205.01 (15 Bids)
End Date: Thursday Oct-02-2008 14:09:53 PDT
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