Suffolk's Adams Gallery Presents: Pilgrims, Patriots & Products: Selling the Colonial Image


A mania for the perceived tranquility of the colonial period followed the nation's centennial in 1876, and the colonial branding theme endures today. Consider the New England Patriots, Mayflower Movers and Sam Adams Beer. But Boston also plays its role, so that a Paul Revere bowl is not only an elegant artifact named for the colonial patriot and silversmith, but also the symbolic gift given to distinguished citizens and visitors by the city of Boston.

The exhibit Pilgrims, Patriots & Products: Selling the Colonial Image , at the Adams Gallery February 14 through April 24, 2005, shows how marketers have tapped into the colonial ideal to sell everything from coffee to cleansers. The exhibit includes images from late-19th- and early-20th-century product catalogs, advertisements, trade cards, calendars and posters as well as artifacts that employ an idealized colonial past to sell commercial products.

As the 19th century waned, society looked back to a romanticized time of simplicity and patriotism. It was an era of rapid change brought about by industrialization, immigration and urbanization. It also was a time of increased consumerism, and the colonial brand held sway.

The exhibit draws on the archives and library of Historic New England -- formerly known as the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities -- to look at how the colonial image was used to promote architecture, food, appliances, silver, clothing, furniture and other household products. Additional images and artifacts come from the Bostonian Society and Plimoth Plantation, and some of them demonstrate that the colonial theme remains vibrant in branding today.


Suffolk University's Adams Gallery, 120 Tremont Street, Boston, presents exhibits on historical themes. The gallery's windows look out onto Tremont Street and the Freedom Trail in the historic heart of Boston, making it a natural site for exhibits of original materials or reproductions of importance in the chronology of Boston and New England. It is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. The university also presents lectures and discussions related to the exhibits. (1 of 2) Historic New England, presented by the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities (SPNEA), is the oldest, largest and most comprehensive regional preservation organization in the country. It offers a unique opportunity to experience the lives and stories of New Englanders through their homes and possessions. For more information visit online at


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