Raise a Glass to Prohibition’s Repeal

Eighty years ago today, Prohibition was repealed, ending a 13-year ban to manufacture, sell, import, or transport alcohol.  Technically speaking, the act of drinking alcohol wasn’t illegal.


Editorial cartoon by Robert A. Cameron, Liberty Magazine, September 2, 1933

Editorials and political cartoons encouraging repeal were often run in Liberty Magazine.  Pro-repeal “wets” cited personal liberty, legal tax revenue, and the rise of alcohol-related gangster crime, as reasons to repeal.  Gangster Al Capone ended up controling 10,000 speakeasies in Chicago, in addition to the bootlegging industy from Canada to Florida.

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by Cliff Condak, originally planned for v. 10 of America: An Illustrated Diary

Companies whose products relied on alcohol sales had to be creative in their advertising, such as White Rock Water.

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by Harry Beckhoff, 1933

White Rock had promoted its use as a good “alkaline” mixer to add to alcohol to make the beverages less sweet.  During Prohibition, White Rock encouraged people to add its water to non-alcoholic beverages, such as grape juice or orange juice.  In 1933, as the repeal movement grew, White Rock was adding the phrase “and after repeal” to its advertising.

In 1934, although Prohibition had ended, White Rock still was refraining from mentioning its use with alcohol, but promoting its use “in all kinds of long, tall, cooling drinks.”  Eventually, White Rock started to specifically mention alcohol in its advertising.

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by Harry Beckhoff, 1939

Harry Beckhoff was hired to illustrated the White Rock advertisements.  Beckhoff was known for his unique illustration style that effectively blended cartoon-style elements into modern illustration.  Beckhoff began his illustrations as thumbnail sketches and then enlarged them and added color with flat washes of paint.

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by Harry Beckhoff, 1934

Since Beckhoff’s style worked well with humor, he often illustrated humorous advertisements. Beckhoff’s characters (both human and canine) were known for their detailed expressions.

So now that we have our whiskey mixer, we need some whiskey.  Since some very knowledgable dogs knew about the tonic water, perhaps some dogs can recommend the whiskey as well..

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by Tom Lovell, from the January 17, 1948 Colliers

Calvert ran a humorous advertising campaign in the late 1940s using domesticated animals (and an occasional wild bear) to promote its whiskey and gin.

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by Tom Lovell, from the January 18, 1947 Colliers

Lovell was known for his documentary approach to realistic-style illustration.  He started working in the western,  mystery and gangster pulps, eventually working for all the major national magazines.  Lovell was very versatile in his subject matter which included advertising, romantic fiction illustration, action-adventure illustration, and cowboy and Native American art.

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by Tom Lovell, from the January 18, 1947 Colliers

So raise a glass and toast Prohibition’s repeal, which allows us to enjoy this alcohol-related advertising illustration.


The Liberty Magazine editorial is from the Periodicals Collection.

The Al Capone image is from the Cliff Condak Collection.

All other images are from the Walt Reed Illustration Archive.

Information for this blog came from:

Reed, Walt. The Illustrator in America, 1860-2000.  The Society of Illustrators, 2001.

About the author

Andrea Degener is the Visual Materials Processing Archivist in the department of Special Collections at Washington University Libraries.