The 1939 Syracuse v. Cornell has a distinctive cover illustration of a mustached man riding a Victorian era bicycle. Haven’t we seen this cover somewhere before?
Indeed, we have. It turns out it is the exact same cover as the 1939 Gonzaga v. St. Mary’s Program from the same year.
Wait a minute. Triplets with this Auburn V. Tulane 1939 program?
It turns out that cover art was produced for college football programs and then used over and over again. There were several companies that specialized in the production of programs and it was economical for them to re-use illustrations. These companies ‘syndicated’ the artwork and sold it in catalogs to colleges around the country. The college would then pick out the cover illustration they wanted and order them.
Another good example of this re-use can be seen in this beautiful Larry Tisdale illustration from 1946 that was used in a Columbia v. Dartmouth program and in a Middle Tennesee State College program from the same year.
The first company to produce syndicated programs (beginning the the 1930s) was Lederer, Street and Zeus from Berkeley California. They charged one dollar for the image.
This nice retro homecoming program from 1953 was used by Duke and Columbia:
Since this is the land of capitalism after all, syndicated programs also allowed national advertisers an easy way to reach a national audience. Part of the deal with the syndicated programs was that is was much easier to coordinate national ads. Ads from cigarette companies (Camels) and oil companies (Richfield) were particularly prevelent.