For all their ubiquity today, bumper stickers are largely a post-World War II phenomenon. Instead, if you had some personality quirk you wished to display (your politics, your favorite sports team, a brand you enjoyed, or even some touristy spot or event you’d visited), you had roughly five options. The closest to the modern bumper sticker was a rectangular piece of cardboard that could be wired to your bumper; there was painting directly on your car, an option particularly popular with youthful drivers in worn-out machines; there were water-transfer decals to go on your glass; there were metal toppers and frames for your license plate; and finally there was the spare-tire cover.
Before the mid-1930s, the external spare tire was the norm. The cheaper the car, the more likely the spare was simply hung off the back, naked to the world. Manufacturers usually offered optional accessory hard and soft covers (along with locking hubcaps to prevent theft), but the plethora of colorful and interesting aftermarket covers were difficult to resist, thanks especially to a price subsidized by some company’s advertising budget.
The accessory spare-tire cover wasn’t a terribly durable sort of thing, although they usually outlasted waterslide decals and cardboard placards. They were typically made from oil cloth and screen printed or painted, often by the hand of some local sign painter. The elements and changing tastes have made actual vintage covers a rare and collectible item today, so we were thrilled to see this one pop up at the 2021 AACA Eastern Fall Meet at Hershey in the booth erected by Mike Wolfe of the American Pickers television show