Three of the Springmaid ladies, models who posed for ads for Springmaid Sheets, visited the South Carolina State Museum on May 17. Their visit was in conjunction with “Springmaid Day”, an event held in conjunction with the new Museum exhibit, “Beneath the Springmaid Sheets.” The models were Bille Etters, Maude Ruth Crawford and Moppy Frazer. They all appeared in Springmaid ads of the 1940s and 50s. The ladies were special guests at a showing of an SCETV documentary, answered questions and signed autographs.
The exhibit tells the story of Springs Cotton Mills, a struggling enterprise in 1931 when dashing World War I flying ace Col. Elliott Springs inherited his father’s business. The brilliant and daring Col. Springs used racy images and innuendo-laced text to catapult his struggling cloth business to prominence following World War II.
He began commissioning artwork depicting attractive young women as his “Spring Maids.” The ads were considered risqué at the time (and some still are), but the controversy only promoted the product even more, and the legendary marketing savant restored Springs Mills to prosperity by the 1950s. While the advertising industry initially called Springs’s ads “degrading,” today his potpourri of risqué images, puns and double entendres are studied at major universities around the world.
The exhibit will run until September 8.
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Springmaid Ladies at S.C. State Museum
The Springmaid ladies sign autographs at the S.C. State Museum. From far to near they are Billie Etters, Maude Ruth Crawford and Noppy Frazer.
Beneath the Springmaid sheets entrance
The Beneath the Springmaid Sheets exhibit is on the fourth floor of the South Carolina State Museum. It is included in the Museum’s general admission.
Springs Cotton Mills made more than just bedsheets. Here is an assortment of some of the clothes they made for both men and women. The company is based in Fort Mill.
Uncle Sam wants YOU!
This famous illustration of Uncle Sam was done by illustrator James Montgomery Flagg. Flagg also worked on several Springmaid ads. This by far is his best known work.
Girl on a cotton bale
This illustration by James Montgomery Flagg, of “Uncle Sam” fame, shows a comely woman sitting on a cotton bale. Flagg signed this illustration.