1950s Advertising: Vintage Winchester Point of Purchase Displays

by | Jan 8, 2024 | Guest Blogger, Turnbull Restoration & Manufacturing Blog, Vintage Firearm | 1 comment

Winchester’s classic, functional pieces of art make great collectables and bring back warm nostalgia.

Here’s the next in our series of guest blog posts graciously provided by our friends at the Winchester Arms Collectors Association (WACA).

Collecting vintage Winchester rifles, carbines and shotguns is not only about appreciating the art of wood and steel that these legendary arms exemplify. It’s also about preserving the culture and values of the times when our cherished Winchesters were first made available to hunters, shooters and enthusiasts. Winchester Arms Collectors Association (WACA) members Jennifer and Gary Gole possess an outstanding collection of vintage Winchester advertising artifacts, and are selflessly dedicated to sharing the breadth and depth of their knowledge. Their collection provides a unique portal to the past, one that holds immense educational value and brings with it a wealth of nostalgia. We’re very grateful for their work, which is published on a regular basis within the pages of The Winchester Collector, WACA’s quarterly club magazine. They have kindly contributed an example article for followers of the Turnbull Restoration blog. We hope you read on, and visit WACA to learn more about their mission.

WACA is a not-for-profit, tax-exempt corporation with a worldwide membership of over 3,000. The members are devoted to the preservation, understanding and collecting of Winchester firearms and related products as well as the role these products had in forging America’s heritage. As WACA members ourselves, we’re proud to play our part in this mission.

Our goal with this guest blog series is to share WACA members’ outstanding knowledge and passion for Winchester firearms. We will share articles aimed at informing Winchester owners and enhancing their collecting experience, along with personal stories and memories related to Winchester firearms that we hope will resonate with you as much as they do with us.

And with that, here’s our next WACA guest post. We encourage your thoughts in the comments section below.

Winchester Point of Purchase Advertising

The Fabulous Fifties!

by Jennifer and Gary Gole

For many of us the 1950s bring back childhood…or perhaps teenage memories. However, for Winchester it was a time that ushered in a new era of Point of Purchase advertising…better known as POPs. The company’s first use of these colorful advertising pieces began just after World War I, in the late 1910s, and continued into 1929. These early pieces are highly coveted and usually come with some serious price tags.

Beginning in 1929, the company went into reorganization, followed by receivership, and was subsequently purchased by Western Cartridge Company at the end of 1931. The Winchester Division still continued to use some of these colorful POPs during the 1930s and 1940s.

However, it wasn’t until the 1950s that the Winchester advertising campaigns were kicked into high gear again. Many of these POPs were not only advertising in the traditional sense, but many were designed to hold the guns that were being promoted. The single rack display (above) holds a Model 12 and there were several paper banners advertising the iconic Model 61 that came with this Model 12 advertisement. The .22 rifles rack (above) holds three Winchester .22 caliber rifles. It came with interchangeable pieces so that the dealer could pick which .22 rifles were featured. As you can see on the black and white information sheet that came with the rack, there are several small die cuts that should have accompanied this piece…we are still searching for these to complete the display as originally designed by the Winchester Sales Department.

Don’t Forget the Ammunition

In addition to guns, Winchester also used these displays to promote the sale of their ammunition. The red plastic .22 ammunition display (above) came complete with the brightly colored POP to sit on top and catch the customer’s eye. There were also stand-alone POPs promoting the Winchester-Western brand of Silvertip ammunition and Super-X or Super Speed Shotgun Shells, as well as .22 Target ammunition.

These colorful “works of art” showed many of the traditional values at the time…such as going out for an afternoon shoot as a family. Many pictured father and son hunting or shooting together. These pieces not only bring back nostalgia for these bygone times…they also show us what the Winchester Sales Department was promoting at the time…lots of great guns and ammunition, as always!

Seasonal Promotions

Winchester was always promoting their products during the different seasons and Christmas was no different. We also see some excellent examples of holiday displays. The large POP with a yellow background advertising the Models 69 and 62 during the shooting holidays (above) is the only one of these we have ever found. The Christmas gun rack shown above is very desirable, especially with the additional small die cuts that came with it.

Most of these POPs were mailed out to the Winchester dealer as sets in a cardboard box, just as they were in earlier times. It is a great bonus to find these displays in the original shipping box…but not always an easy task. Over the years we have seen many of these pieces individually, but to find them in the original box with all of the pieces together is quite unusual.

The Famous Winchester Roller Skates

As you may know, during the 1950s Winchester continued to produce roller skates. This great metal roller skate display with the original Winchester skates is an exceedingly rare find, especially in mint condition (above). There were also flashlight displays, although we have not found any POPs promoting the flashlights, leading us to believe that they were phasing out that product line.

In Pursuit of Display Sets

In some cases, we have purchased a part of a display, not realizing that it was only a part, and then later found the additional pieces to make the set complete. The boxed sets always came with an 8 1/2 x 11-inch black and white information sheet showing the pieces included in the box and usually some examples of how to display them. The three tri-fold POPs shown (above) actually came in a box together, although it is rare to find them together. The information sheet (above) also came in the box and shows the three available pieces. There are other tri-folds that probably also came as a group, but we don’t have the information sheet to confirm that assumption.

Thankfully, many of these displays can be found and for reasonable prices. However, as with all things Winchester, the prices will most likely continue to increase in value as more and more people develop an interest in and an appreciation for their beauty. By adding any of these items, we not only can add a colorful element, but also a real value to our collections.

Any of these pieces can bring the display in your gun room (or your display at a gun show) up to the next level. You are not only able to display the amazing Winchester rifles that you love…you are able to showcase them with these amazing advertising pieces, just as Winchester did during the fabulous fifties!

About the Authors

Jennifer Gole #9526 is a Benefactor Life Member of the NRA, Past and Current WACA Director, Past Secretary of the WCA and Member of the OGCA. Email Jennifer at crookedrivertrading@gmail.com. Gary Gole is WACA Member #4283, Life Member of the OGCA and Benefactor Life Member of the NRA.

Reproduced with kind permission from the Winchester Arms Collectors Association (WACA). All images courtesy of WACA and respective collectors as noted.

More About the Winchester Arms Collectors Association

This article was previously published in the Summer 2021 issue of The Winchester Collector. To greatly enhance your collecting experience, join the Winchester Arms Collectors Association (WACA). It’s only $50 per year, and you’ll receive our quarterly magazine with great articles on historic Winchesters and Henry rifles, along with many other member benefits such as 15 additional record searches for Cody Firearms Museum members. It’s easy to join online with a credit card by clicking here.

1 Comment

  1. Jerry Gompert

    I have a Winchester pitch fork can’t fine much information on it..would like to find more about it…


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