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Neocid Spray (DDT) – 1000 at One Stroke

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Creator Ferdi Afflerbach
Printing year 1948
Sheet size (cm) 128×91
Printing technique Lithograph
Printer Paul Attinger
Condition A
Asking price 1'250 CHF
Categories Animal, Household & Department Stores

The fact that old original posters often resonate with nostalgia is in the nature of things and part of their appeal. Then there are posters – usually merchandise or political posters – that simply seem anachronistic; less because of their design than because of the advertised product or theme. And finally, there are posters that – always from today’s point of view, mind you – leave you somewhat incredulous. Like this one, created at the end of the 1940s, for example, advertising the DDT product Neocid from the Geigy chemical factory in Basel (“1000 at one stroke” – the brave little tailor can of course pack his bags). Due to suspected carcinogenic effects, accumulation in the food chain and reproductive disorders, DDT was banned not only in Switzerland in 1972. For decades, it was the most widely used insecticide in the world.

Dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane ist actually known since 1874, but it was not until the end of 1939 that Geigy chemist Paul Hermann Müller discovers its insecticidal effect. The production was comparatively simple and the toxicity for insects high, while that for vertebrates was considered negligible (if not completely negated – but that’s another topic). Geigy launched the now patented product on the market in 1942 under the names Gesarol (plant protection product) and Neocid (hygiene product), where it was soon regarded as a miracle cure (comparable to penicillin – after all, Müller was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1948): in agriculture or in the fight against malaria, but also in direct use on humans, for example to combat lice.

Until 1962, when the US biologist Rachel Carson pointed out the risks of using the drug in her book “Silent Spring” – the beginning of the end of DDT. And the initial spark for a global environmental movement. In the so-called emerging and developing countries, DDT continues to be sprayed against malaria mosquitoes.

And Ferdi Afflerbach (1922 – 2005)? He was a Basel-based commercial artist in the tradition of Donald Brun and Herbert Leupin: the graphic element was and always remained important to him, even when the trend towards the cool, objective “Swiss style” gained momentum, whether in the Zurich (Josef Müller-Brockmann, Richard Paul Lohse) or Basel style (Armin Hofmann, Emil Ruder).