JCB Treasure Vaults
Part 1: Pages 1-19
From the Mark and Susanne Brower Collection
This 40-page training manual was illustrated
by John Coleman Burroughs
with wonderful images of anti-Axis propoganda.
It was produced by the Douglas Aircraft Company of Santa Monica, CA in 1943.
There are obvious science fiction influences in the renderings and
if you study the faces in the illustrations you will probably see the likenesses of
JCB, wife Jane Ralston, brother Hulbert Burroughs, and maybe even his father
Edgar Rice Burroughs.
In tracking the source of this manual, I spoke with someone whose father was owner and President of the plant which came under the control of the War Department and Douglas, during World War II. He was told that this was the only one of the Douglas series done by John. He recalls that the other manuals are much more technical in nature and not nearly as "graphic" (his words). None of the others were done without real photographs. However, he was just going by memory of myraid materials sold at a recent estate sale. One other ominous thought he shared was that they held materials drives in WW II and he stated that since this was property of the company -- most were likely recycled in 1944-45.
I purchased the manual from a vendor who had been at the estate auction. This area is very conservative and he felt some of the images were anti-axis and "disturbing" (his words). I got it for a little over $10. What drew me were the images and the obvious merging of creative media with a tough message about industrial accidents. There also is the use of women in prominent roles which was unheard of and very rare in these types of publications. In my limited experience, however, John would have been a very logical choice to tone down the subject matter (via the science fiction and fantasy type characters) and make it comfortable to view. Remember, the majority of people who read this were essential war workers with draft deferments and not any experience working in an industrial setting. This manual successfully blends a hardcore safety agenda with the then ongoing patriotic spirit.
I am a Homefront Collector and this is, by far, the most magnificent work I've ever seen. Our collection runs from World War I to II and includes almost all hand-made materials (posters, pinbacks, etc.). This is the gem of my collection and it came at a fraction of the cost most my manuals came at -- and many are very costly. I also have most of the pieces restored to library quality. My grandfather got me started on this as he was a war worker supervisor in WW II. He found the humor and message in John's work to be unique and exceptionally very well done for the time.
As I am sure you are aware, it was not at all uncommon during the war years for artists in the Hollywood area to give talents for the nation. It was obvious that was the case with this manual. Our son Jeff, who is about to enter art college next fall, also saw the mastery in the work. Too bad there is not a John Coleman Burroughs Scholarship at the school he is to attend (ha-ha!)
We are very interested in obtaining more information about this booklet and about John Coleman Burroughs' involvement in the war effort.
The Mark and Susanne Brower Collection
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