Collection inventory

Finding Aids

Charles Coiner Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: KM
Date: Nov 1994

Revision history:
Dec 1999 revisions (KM)
5 Jun 2005 EAD file created (MRR)
13 Sep 2012 box numbers corrected (MRC)
19 Feb 2014 corrected boxes 1/2 (MRC)
18 Jul 2014 processed adds, rehoused packages, added recording (MRC)
17 Oct 2016 added audiorecording to inventory (PJM)

Overview of the Collection

Creator: Coiner, Charles T.
Title: Charles Coiner Papers
Dates: 1933-1984
Quantity: 10 linear ft.
Abstract: Correspondence (1930s-1970); design drawings for government commissions, including preliminary sketches and other material pertaining to the NRA blue eagle as well as civilian defense logos and war posters; documents relating to various Ayer clients, including the Container Corporation of America; ms. essays and speeches, and tear sheets for Coiner's 'Clipping Board' column; and memorabilia, including awards, clippings, exhibition catalogs, and photographs. Correspondence includes letters of Raymond A. Ballinger, Herbert Bayer, Harry Bouras, Alexey Brodovitch, Werner Drewes, Leo Lionni, George Samerjan, Lajos Szalay, and others.
Language: English
Repository: Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries
222 Waverly Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13244-2010

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)



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


Biographical Material
Box 1 Biographical material
Box 1 Coiner to Elsie Mae Howe 1924
Box 1 Coiner to Elsie Mae Howe, about recital 1933
Box 1 Miscellaneous 1930s-1986, undated (10 folders)
See also Selected Index to Correpondence for more information.
Designs (by client) - most of these are examples of print advertisements; almost none is original artwork
Box 2 AT & T 1960-1962 - "Telephone location identification"
Oversize 2 Avisco (textiles) undated
Oversize 2 Avondale (textiles) undated
Oversize 2 Boeing undated
Box 2 Buckingham Township Civic Association undated
Box 2 Champion Papers (Miho) undated (2 folders)
Box 2 Community Chests and Councils, Inc. 1945
Oversize 2 C & P Telephone undated
Oversize 2 Camel (cigarettes) undated
Oversize 2 Capehart and Farnsworth (audio cabinets) undated
Oversize 2 Champ (wool) undated
Container Corporation of America
Box 2 [General] 1945-1964 (2 folders)
Oversize 3 Oversize material 1960, undated
Oversize 2 Crown (rayon) undated
Oversize 2 Dole (fruit) undated
Oversize 2 Ekco (kitchen appliances) undated
Oversize 2 Felt & Tarrant (calculators, "Comptometers"; also at least one ad for war bonds) undated
Oversize 2 Ford Motor Company - sketches, layouts, printed advertisements, etc. for Lincoln Symphony, Ford V-8, Murray bodies
Box 2 Great Abaco Club undated
Oversize 2 Forstmann (wool) undated
Oversize 2 French Line (cruise company) undated
Oversize 2 Goodyear undated
Box 2 Hawaiian Pineapple Company, Ltd. 1947
Oversize 2 Kelly-Springfield (tires) undated
Oversize 2 Ladies Home Journal undated
Oversize 2 Marcus & Company (jewellers) undated
Box 2 National War Fund 1943
Oversize 2 N. W. Ayers (advertising agency) undated
Box 2 Octagon Soap Products undated
Box 2 Pennsylvania Hospital 1962
Oversize 2 Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association undated
Box 2 Philadelphia Museum of Art undated
Oversize 2 Plymouth (Chrysler) undated
Oversize 2 Polk-Miller (canine medication; ad relates to supporting armed forces) undated
Oversize 2 Punch undated
Oversize 2 Silvercup (bread) undated
Oversize 2 Steinway (pianos) undated
Oversize 2 United Air Lines undated
U.S. Government
National Recovery Administration (NRA) 1933
Box 2 [General] (3 folders)
Oversize 3 Posters 1933-1934, undated - several different designs, including humorous ones "For Communists" and "For burlesque and circus fans"
Oversize 4 Banner [?] - canvas, red white and blue, VERY large when unfolded
Office for Emergency Management 1942
See also War Production Board.
Box 2 [General]
[General] (9 items, some duplicates)
Office of Civilian Defense 1941
Box 2 [General] (3 folders)
Oversize 3 Icons and symbols - for air raid warden, emergency housing, medical facility, etc.; original art
Office of Production Management
Box 3 [General] undated
Oversize xxx Posters undated
Box 3 Post Office 1960 - 4 cent Boys' Clubs of America commemorative postage stamp
Box 3 U.S.S. Enterprise 1961
Box 3 War Manpower Commission undated
War Production Board 1943
See also Office for Emergency Management.
Box 3 [General]
Oversize 2 Waltham (watches) undated
Oversize 2 Wamsutta (sheets, pillowcases) undated
Oversize 2 Webster (cigars) undated
Oversize 2 Yardley (perfumes / fragrances) undated
Box 3 Miscellaneous - assorted letterheads, stationery, trademarks, etc.
Non-client or unidentified
Box 3 Calendars with reproductions of Coiner art 1973-1974, 1980
Box 3 Drawings - original artwork including drawings, sketches, etc.
Oversize 5 Drawings, oversize - original artwork including drawings, sketches, etc.
Box 3 Greeting cards, personal 1969-1970, undated
Box 3 Paintings - printed reproductions
Box 3 Prints 1967
Oversize 5 Prints, oversize
Prints, oversize
Box 4 "Clipping Board" 1944-1956, undated (7 folders)
Oversize 1 "Clipping Board" - enlargements used in Philadelphia Museum College of Art exhibition
Box 4 By title A-Z (2 folders)
Box 4 Untitled
Box 8 Panel discussion, Art Directors Club, on “Changing Role of the Art Director" 9 Oct 1959 1 reel tape, 7" (ID#: coiner_c_001)
Box 4 Speeches 1946-1962, undated (2 folders)
Oversize 6 Art Directors Club of Philadephia Hall of Fame 1973
Oversize 6 Art Directors Club of Philadephia Hall of Fame undated
Oversize 6 Audubon Artists 40th Annual Exhibit Grumbacher Art Award 1982
Oversize 6 Ayer Centennial 25-Year Club 1969
Oversize 6 Bucks County Arts Award 1982
Oversize 6 Philadelphia Club of Advertising Woman 1961
Box 5 Miscellaneous 1949-1969
Box 5 Financial 1962-1975, undated
Box 5 Inventories of paintings 1981-1985, undated
Box 5 Legal 1963, undated
Box 5 Medical 1953-1974, undated
Box 5 Photographs (5 folders)
Oversize 3 Photograph, oversize - unidentified commencement ceremony
Printed material
Box 5 NRA Blue Eagle 1933-1935, undated (3 folders)
Box 6 Miscellaneous 1933-1989, undated (2 folders)
Box 6 Exhibition announcements, invitations 1960s-1980s, undated (4 folders)
Box 6 Exhibition catalogs 1920s-1960s, undated (5 folders)
Box 7 Exhibition catalogs 1970s-1980s, undated (5 folders)
Box 7 News releases
Box 7 Typography
Box 7 Wartime images - majority World War II
Box 7 Scrapbook - bound volume containing clipped monograms, seals, wax seals, etc.
Box 7 Miscellaneous
Box  8 Art Directors Club Panel Discussion - “Changing Role of the Art Director 10/09/1959 - running time 90:00 minutes 1/4 inch audio tape (ID#: coiner_c_001 )

Selected Index to Correspondence