Levi's America's Finest Overall Since 1850
A fascinating marriage of two American icons, the American Cowboy and the Levi Strauss Company.
One of Jo Mora's most enduring images, the "Evolution of the Cowboy" was originally used as a promotional item for the Salinas Rodeo, before being re-purposed in 1950 as advertising for the Levi Strauss Company. Later on, the American band the Byrds used the image of the Sweetheart of the Rodeo on their pioneering country-rock album of the same name, released in 1968.
Mora's work is an illustrated encyclopedia entry on the cowboy, filled with information on the various types of cowboys, their fashions, their saddles, their horses, and their relationship to the cattle. A hectic and exaggerated rodeo scene appears in the center, with more realistic illustrations directly below depicting different rodeo activities in close-up detail.
The map is ringed with images of the history of the cowboy, from the Spanish conquistador of the 16th century to the modern vaqueros and cowboys.
Levi Strauss & Co. purchased the rights to Mora's poster from his son, added a new title across the top, and replaced Mora's dedication with their logo. In the center of the poster's new title is an illustration of the World's Champion Cowboy Buckle from 1950, an award issued by the company to "the Champion All-Around cowboy of the year."
In this addition, there is ad copy linking Levi's to the cowboy lifestyle that surrounds the Sweetheart of the Rodeo, replacing the silhouettes of cowboys and their horses from the previous, Levi's-free issue.
This is the first of two Levi states of the map. The first uses "LEVI'S" in white letters on a red field, the second LeVI's" in red letters on a white field.
Joseph Jacinto "Jo" Mora, born 22 October 1876 in Uruguay, died 10 October 1947 in Monterey California. Mora came to the United States as a child, he studied art in New York, then worked for Boston newspapers as a cartoonist. He was a man of many other talents, artist-historian, sculptor, painter, photographer, illustrator, muralist and author. In 1903, Mora came to California, then in 1904 he moved to Keams Canyon in northeast Arizona, living with the Hopi and Navajo Indians. He learned their languages and photographed and painted an ethnological record, particularly of the Kachina ceremonial dances. In 1907, he married Grace Needham and they moved to Mountain View, California. He moved to Pebble Beach in 1922 and established a home and large studio there, it being near the Carmel Mission (San Carlos Borroméo De Carmelo Mission) after being commissioned to do the Serra Sarcophagus* for Padre (Father) Ramon Mestres.
During his long and productive career, Mora illustrated a number of books including Animals of Aesop (1900), Dawn and the Dons - The Romance of Monterey (1926), Benito and Loreta Delfin, Children of Alta California (1932), and Fifty Funny Animal Tales (1932). He authored three books, A Log of the Spanish Main (1933), Trail Dust and Saddle Leather (1946) and his posthumous publication, Californios (1949).
His map work included Monterey Peninsula (1927), and Seventeen Mile Drive (1927), California (1927), San Diego (1928), Grand Canyon (1931), Yosemite (1931), Yellowstone (1936), Carmel-By-The-Sea (1942), California (1945) (large and small versions), and Map of Los Angeles (1942).