Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Firestone Tires, Santa Clara

I was looking at what happened over the years on August 3, when I noticed that in 1900 Harvey Firestone founded in Akron, Ohio, the Firestone Tire & Rubber Company. So today I am taking some liberty and posting an advert that is slightly outside the limits of this blog as it is neither painted nor made of mosaics but made of tiles.
This particular example of tiled advert is pretty exceptional, for two reasons.
First, relatively few tiled adverts have survived because few seem to have been made in the first place. Tiles were potentially longer-lasting than other advertising media, provided they weren't broken, but they could only be manufactured in a few places and were particularly heavy. Thus the transportation costs must have seemed prohibitive to many businesses. In Europe I have seen some in Portugal and Andalucía, two areas famous for their azulejos, as well as in France. In Britain the former Michelin garage on Fulham Road, London, has a stunning series of unique tiles celebrating racing bicycles, motorbikes, and cars that ran on Michelin tyres in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
The second reason is that I spotted this tiled advert in Cuba, a country where advertising is virtually non-existant and where the authorities have been doing their best to erase almost all traces of US economic influence on the island.
That's why I was very surprised to see an ad for Firestone on one of Santa Clara's main streets. Additionally, even if it is on the outside wall of what was certainly a garage, it is within the fenced perimeter of the church of Santa Clara de Asis, only a couple of metres from its entrance.

On the tyre, one can read:
Heavy Duty
Gum Dipped

On the upper right corner is the name of the company that made these tiles:
M. Roca

Ballesmar was founded in 1949 in Onda, province of Castellón, Spain. Did they have a subsidiary in Cuba or near Cuba (in Mexico perhaps?), or did these tiles come all the way from Spain?

For some information about the history of Firestone, you can look at the webpages created on the occasion of the company's 100th anniversary.

Location: Calle Marta Abreu, Santa Clara / Picture taken on: 02/04/2010

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