Levi's Poster, ca. 1945
Appraised Value: $1,800 - $2,700
IMAGE: 1 of 3
Appraisal Video: (2:57)
Prints & Posters
Swann Auction Galleries
GUEST: They've been in our family business for as long as I can remember-- I think from the 1950s, when we first started carrying Levi's products.
APPRAISER: And your family business is the clothing business?
GUEST: Is the clothing business.
APPRAISER: So they're hanging up in the family store?
GUEST: They are now. They were upstairs in a storeroom, and one was curled up, rolled up and kind of smashed.
APPRAISER: And you actually... you had a specific question for me, didn't you?
GUEST: I had a question about Jo Mora and why he came to, uh... publish a poster like this for Levi's.
APPRAISER: You know, it's a great question, because Jo Mora, who, I don't know if you know, was born in Uruguay and moved to America, lived in California and became a great artist of the cowboys and Indians. He illustrated several books. He was also a pictorialist map maker. You can see how this is filled with a lot of little different images. That's called the pictorialist style, and Jo Mora was most known for his pictorialist maps. When I saw this piece, I got very excited, because I didn't know that Jo Mora had ever done anything as commercial as a poster, and I thought, what a great confluence. Jo Mora, the great cowboy artist, is doing a poster for Levi's, and that was a really exciting thing. However, this is actually an image that Jo Mora published himself in 1933, which I know because at the bottom it says copyright 1933 by Jo Mora. And in 1933 the image was called "Sweetheart of the Rodeo."
GUEST: Oh, really?
APPRAISER: Which you can see. And that's the title of the print, and Levi's adopted the image for their own advertising, and it makes perfect sense, because the image is the history of cowboys, from the Spanish conquistadors through the modern-day, range-riding, Marlboro-smoking, rootin'-tootin' cowboy. Now, had this been the original Jo Mora "Sweetheart of the Rodeo" print, it would have been worth about $1,200. As the Levi's poster, several years after the print, it's actually worth about the same, because it's such a great confluence of art and industry and commerce. But you know, you also brought another poster, and I have to tell you, it's the first of its kind that I've ever seen. And because it's a great picture of cowboys, because it's an American classic like Levi's jeans, at auction, this piece (even in the bad condition that it's in) would actually be worth about $1,000 to $1,500, which is even more than the Jo Mora.
GUEST: That's wonderful.
APPRAISER: I like it because of what it says. We're in a dying small town, and this is very pertinent to that. And it's fantastic. So, $1,800 to $2,700 for the pair-- that's a whole load of denim.
GUEST (laughing): That's wonderful.
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