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Drawing, Design for a Tractor

This is a Drawing. It was designed by John H. Walters and from the office of Ford Motor Company. It is dated April 13, 1939 and we acquired it in 2017. Its medium is color pencil, white gouache, and graphite on tan tracing paper. It is a part of the Drawings, Prints, and Graphic Design department.

Many top manufacturers throughout the 20th century relied on a suite of ever-changing styles to sell new products to American consumers. Though automotive styles perhaps more conspicuously showcased new variations and models, utilitarian vehicles such as tractors and tow trucks likewise employed design tactics as a means of attracting returning customers. These designs by John H. Walters date from the very beginning of Ford Motor Company’s new design department under Bob Gregorie, whose leadership influenced the style of iconic Ford automobiles from the 1930s and 1940s. Walters’ tractor designs represent markedly different approaches to the same utilitarian vehicle, and his design for a tow truck demonstrates further ways in which designs for work vehicles borrowed from automotive styling. By cladding the existing vehicle mechanisms in different materials and forms, manufacturers such as Ford were able to sell products that looked new and different without reengineering existing machinery.

This object was donated by Alexandra Herzan and Paul Herzan. It is credited Gift of Alexandra and Paul Herzan.

Its dimensions are

Sheet (approx.): 30 × 47 cm (11 13/16 × 18 1/2 in.) Frame (approx.): 45.7 × 62.9 × 3.2 cm (18 × 24 3/4 × 1 1/4 in.)

It is signed

Signed in black color pencil, lower right: jay / 4-13-39

It is inscribed

Inscribed in black color pencil, upper left: ford design dept; lower left: tractor design #9

Cite this object as

Drawing, Design for a Tractor; Designed by John H. Walters (American, active 20th century); Office of Ford Motor Company (United States); color pencil, white gouache, and graphite on tan tracing paper; Sheet (approx.): 30 × 47 cm (11 13/16 × 18 1/2 in.) Frame (approx.): 45.7 × 62.9 × 3.2 cm (18 × 24 3/4 × 1 1/4 in.); Gift of Alexandra and Paul Herzan; 2017-39-1

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If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://www-4.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/1108951079/ |title=Drawing, Design for a Tractor |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=24 March 2023 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>