Twin Stars

Falero Twin Stars

In December of 1895, Anthony Comstock demanded that the Brooklyn Elevated Railroad remove from its cars an advertisement using the painting “The Twin Stars” by Luis Ricardo Falero.  The original was at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but in Brooklyn it was advertising a German brand of scissors.

In a letter to the president of the company, Comstock said that the advertisement was “a menace to public morals and an offense to decency” and that everyone would be better served by its instant removal. Comstock cited a letter he had received from an older woman who said the advertising poster was the worst thing she had ever seen in her life and she was afraid to let her aged husband, a senior deacon in a Baptist church, ride on the elevated road.

A spokesman for the advertising firm said, “A request was made to remove the pictures, but as we have a contract with the company which uses it as their trade mark we could not very well do so. We suggested a compromise which was accepted. It was to take down all the cards and paste a black patch of paper across the figures, covering a portion of their bodies.”

A reporter for the New York Times rode the train to learn how the black patch had worked, and found that it drew more attention to the poster than if it had been left alone.


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