For 10 years, between 2000 and 2010, the William F. Eisner Museum of Advertising & Design was a unique destination in Milwaukee’s Third Ward neighborhood. The museum and event space housed tens of thousands of advertising artifacts: early 20th-century ads, Mad Men-era ads, modern ads, and more. Created by Elaine Eisner, the museum was named after her late husband William, with whom she founded Milwaukee ad company William Eisner and Associates in 1959. Elaine Eisner died in late 2019, at the age of 92.

The Eisner collection has been in storage ever since the museum’s 2010 closure. But now, thanks to an upcoming public auction, ad aficionados will be able to bid on more than 40,000 original tear sheets. And other stuff, too! Don Draper’s Kodak Carousel ad may or may not be included.

Senior relocation and estate sale company Caring Transitions will begin an online auction for some of the pieces this week. That auction will run until Wednesday, March 6. After that, a public onsite sale for all of the Eisner pieces will be held. That auction will take place on Saturday, March 9 at Caring Transitions’ Wauwatosa warehouse (2033 N. 122nd St.) from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. “During this sale,” Caring Transitions says, “we will also preview many of the items included in a second online sale.”

A number of tear sheets can be previewed online now. There are vintage beer ads, star-studded cigarette ads, old movie ads, classic car ads, and more. Enjoy those Chesterfields, Frank!

“Caring Transitions has partnered with Life Navigators to share the recently acquired Eisner Collection, a historical American advertising and design collection,” explains Caring Transitions. “The Eisner Collection features 40,000+ tear sheets, vintage neon signs, The Dream Girls Exhibit and many more advertising gems! The previous owner of the collection, Elaine Eisner, was a Wisconsin advertising pioneer. She wanted to honor her husband’s love of advertising and his legacy of mentoring young creatives. In 2000, she opened the William F. Eisner Museum of Advertising and Design in Milwaukee. The Museum closed in 2010, and its items were placed in storage until the family gifted the collection to Life Navigators. Now Life Navigators is sharing it with the community.” [h/t Andrew H.]

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Co-Founder and Editor

Matt Wild weighs between 140 and 145 pounds. He lives on Milwaukee's east side.