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Cordtz Billboard Advertising Collection, 1916-1958
MANUSCRIPT 2401-2408
Collection Overview


Cordtz Billboard Advertising Collection, 1916-1958


Robt. Cordtz Co


Cordtz Outdoor Advertising Company


This collection contains the records of a billboard advertising company operated in San Diego County by over three generations of the Cordtz family. The bulk of the material relates to 1950-1957 and there are ca. 200 black and white photographs. The collection is divided into seven series: Corporate History, Legal, Financial, Correspondence, Operations, Marketing, and Photographs.
CORPORATE HISTORY: bound volumes including certificates, bylaws, minutes, stock records, financial summaries; a stock ledger book. The companies represented are the Robt. Cordtz Co., 1926-1952, and Cordtz Outdoor Advertising Company, 1952-1957. LEGAL: pleadings in suits brought against Foster and Kleiser Company; misc. contracts. FINANCIAL: scattered financial summaries (1931-1943); monthly asset, liability, and income and expense statements (1951-1957); misc. invoices and receipts.
CORRESPONDENCE: incoming and outgoing correspondence interfiled in chronological order. 1926-1932: primarily with the California State Corporations Dept.; 1933-1949: primarily with shareholders; 1951-1957: primarily with company attorneys. OPERATIONS: cost estimate, list of employee assignments, blank forms, certificates, blueprints for the structural aspects of billboards. MARKETING: The Company: prospectuses. Services: rate and allotment schedules, circulation packages, brochures, maps, business cards. Specific sales: trade advertising, proposals to Ford Motor Co. and Shell Oil.
PHOTOGRAPHS: Billboards: organized by company: Robt. Cordtz Co., Cordtz Co., Pacific Outdoor, Foster and Kleiser, and misc. street scenes. Company: organized into facilities and people, the Austin Cordtz retirement party, and promotions.


1916 (issued)


2401: Corporate history-Robt. Cordtz Co., 1927-1948, 1952. -- 2402: Corporate history-Robt. Cordtz Co. stock ledger. -- 2403: Corporate history-Cordtz Co.; Legal; Financial. -- 2404: Correspondence. -- 2405: Operations. -- 2406: Marketing. -- 2407: Photographs: Billboards. -- 2408: Photographs: Corporate; Duplicates.


Robt. Cordtz Co. -- Records and correspondence
Cordtz Outdoor Advertising Company -- Records and correspondence
Billboards -- California -- San Diego County
Billboards -- California -- San Diego County -- Photographs
San Diego County (Calif.) -- Photographs


Robert H. Cordtz (1861-1935) was a prominent sign painter in Chicago during the 1880s and 1890s. He arrived in San Diego in between 1904-1906, continuing his trade as a sign painter. When Austin W. Cordtz (1889-1960) began working with his father, the Robt. Cordtz Co. partnership was formed. In 1922 Austin Cordtz took over management of the company, and in 1927 the company was incorporated. It had a office and shop on India Street in San Diego, a branch office in Long Beach, and was affiliated with other independent billboard companies throughout the Pacific states. By 1928 annual sales were $50,000.
Annual sales plummeted to $12,000 by 1932. The hard times of the Depression were exacerbated by the monopolistic practices of a larger competing company, Foster and Kleiser. Both the Robt. Cordtz Co. and the U. S. Attorney General's Office sued Foster and Kleiser under the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. The suit filed by the government resulted in a $10,000 award to the Robt. Cordtz Co. in 1939.
William A. Cordtz (1923-) took over company management in 1948. By then annual sales had reached $70,000, but the company had incurred much debt. Apparently the firm adopted the Cordtz Co. logo between 1948 and 1952. In 1952 the Robt. Cordtz Co. assets were sold to the newly incorporated Cordtz Outdoor Advertising Company. A "Rotating Bulletin Plan" was initiated in 1954 and the company acquired some major clients - Wonder Bread, Breast O Chicken Tuna, Golden Tulip Potato Chips, Ford, Mobilegas, Standard Oil, Gallo Wine, and Pepsi Cola. In 1955 the Cordtz Co. had almost 300 "posters" and 48 "bulletins" and in 1957 sales were $327,000. That year the Cordtz Co. was sold to the Pacific Outdoor Advertising Company of Los Angeles, and Austin W. Cordtz retired. William Cordtz managed the company as a division of Pacific Outdoor for two years; subsequently he incorporated Del Norte Investments and founded the San Diego Sign Company.
Cordtz Billboard Advertising Collection, 1916-1958
Unrestricted. Please credit California State Library.

Physical Description:

8 ms. boxes (ca. 625 items) : ill., photoprints




MANUSCRIPT 2401-2408



Copyright Note:

Unrestricted. Please credit California State Library.