Possibly one of the oldest toys in history, the yo-yo is said to be over 2500 years old. Its oldest surviving example was tracked to 500 B.C. and found in Greece where it was commonly made of wood, metal or terracotta and decorated with paintings of mythological figures. It is believed that Greek children gave the yo-yo as an offering to the gods when they had outgrown the toy, a coming-of-age ceremony.
By the late 18th century , the yo-yo had started to appear in Europe; in 1866, the first U.S. patent was awarded. The modern yo-yo was born in 1928 when Pedro Flores established the Yo-Yo Manufacturing Company in Santa Barbara, California. Within one year, Flores opened two additional factories that employed a total of 600 workers, producing 300,000 yo-yos daily. A genuine yo-yo fad began in 1930 – the same year the attractive poster by Raymond Gid was produced – when Donald F. Duncan purchased Flores’ Santa Barbara yo-yo company. The same year, Duncan teamed up with Hearst Publications to promote yo-yo contests. To compete, a contestant had to sell three newspaper subscriptions. One such promotion in Philadelphia resulted in the sale of 3 million yo-yos in only 30 days.
The new yo-yo craze and Duncan rode a wave of popularity through the mid-1960s and made the wooden (since 1955 also plastic) toy a pop culture icon. In 1965, Duncan lost a legal battle with the Royal Tops Company over the rights of the name “yo-yo.” The name was ruled a generic term and the legal costs forced both companies into bankruptcy.
Raymond Gid, a French artist primarily known for creating corporate logos and typography for major clients, created the original advertising poster for Duncan yo-yo in 1930, only one year after Donald F. Duncan’s toys hit the main stream market to become a popular international phenomenon for decades. The artist cleverly mixes humor, an economic use of color, and a strict Art Deco style portraying three stripped-down geometrical characters playing with a yo-yo and as a group resembling the personification of the toy itself. A phenomenal and very rare advertising poster.
The Duncan poster image is part of a collection of original posters that will be offered for sale at our vintage poster auction on November 3, 2013 (lots 46). For more information, please visit posterconnection.com or view the catalog online via artfact.com