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Charles Coiner Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: KM
Date: Nov 1994

Biographical History

Charles Coiner (1897-1989) was an American painter and art director. He joined the advertising firm of N.W. Ayer & Sons in 1924 as a layout designer, became art director in 1929, and was a vice-president when he retired in 1964. Coiner designed civilian defense and government posters during World War II, the blue eagle symbol of the National Recovery Administration, and the Boys Clubs of America commemorative stamp issued in 1960.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

Spanning 1933 to 1984, the Charles Coiner Papers comprises correspondence, artwork, writings, and memorabilia of the American painter and advertising agency art director (1897-1989). A reflection of both his 40-year association with N. W. Ayer and his commissioned work for the government, the collection illuminates not only Coiner's pioneering efforts to bring artists without commercial experience to advertising, but also his creative work as a designer of war posters, civilian defense logos, and the Blue Eagle symbol of the National Recovery Administration.

Encompassing both incoming letters and outgoing carbons and/or drafts, the Correspondence (Box 1) focuses primarily on Coiner's work with Ayer Inc., a career which began in 1924 in layout design and ended with his 1964 retirement as art director and vice-president. Although there are some letters from the 1930s in response to the publicity surrounding Coiner's Blue Eagle design, the bulk of the correspondence centers around the 1950s and '60s and concerns advertising campaigns for various clients, most notably the Container Corporation of America. An active recruiter of artists for his advertising projects, Coiner's correspondents include Tore Asplund, Raymond A. Ballinger, Herbert Bayer, Harry Bouras, Alexey Brodovitch, Bob Cargill, Werner Drewes, W. Emerton Heitland, Harry Leith-Ross, Antonio Martino, Louise Pershing, George Samerjan, James William Schucker, Joseph Sinel, Kenneth Stuart, Lajos Szalay, Norman Todhunter, and Hugo Weber.

Designs, drawings, personal greeting cards, and printed reproductions of paintings constitute Artwork (Boxes 1-2). Arranged by client, artwork designs include original sketches and/or printed examples of logos, trademarks, letterheads, stationery, and posters which Coiner produced for both private companies and the federal government. All stages of development from original sketches to a full-size banner document the creation of Coiner's NRA Blue Eagle and its ubiquitous display. Other government commissions included posters and logos designed for the Office for Emergency Management, the Office of Production Management, and the Office of Civilian Defense as well as a 4-cent Boys' Clubs of America commemorative stamp for the Post Office.

Writings includes manuscript essays, printed articles, and the text of a number of Coiner's speeches delivered between 1946 and 1962. With the exception of the tear sheets for his "Clipping Board" columns (1944-1966) from Advertising Agency Magazine, Coiner's manuscript essays and published articles have been arranged by title in a single sequence.

Memorabilia consists of awards, photographs, and printed material, which includes clippings, exhibition announcements and catalogs (1963-1984), and news releases. Magazine reproductions of and articles about the NRA Blue Eagle constitute the bulk of the clippings.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Subject Headings


Ballinger, Raymond A., 1907-1985.
Bayer, Herbert, 1900-1985.
Bouras, Harry.
Brodovitch, Alexey, 1898-1971.
Coiner, Charles T.
Drewes, Werner, 1899-1985.
Lionni, Leo, 1910-1999.
Samerjan, George.
Szalay, Lajos, 1909-1995.

Corporate Bodies

Container Corporation of America.
N. W. Ayer & Sons.
United States. -- National Recovery Administration.
United States. -- Office for Emergency Management


Advertising agencies -- United States.
Art and industry.
Art and war.
Art, American -- 20th century.
Art, American.
Commercial art -- United States.
Painters -- United States.
Painting, American -- 20th century.

Genres and Forms

Clippings (information artifacts)
Design drawings.
Exhibition catalogs.
Freehand drawings (drawings)
Monoprints (painting and printing works)
Speeches (documents)



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Charles Coiner Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Charles Coiner.

Table of Contents

Biographical Material





Selected Index to Correspondence


Selected Index to Correspondence