Dull Tool Dim Bulb Discovers Andy Warhol Missing Link?

My discovery which questions whether Andy Warhol learned to draw soup cans from a small Heinz tracing book he would have had access to as a child seems to be striking a nerve. Quite possible, and I will lay out the details here as a few folks have asked.

I found a small booklet in an antique mall which was originally published by the Heinz company in Andy Warhol's home town the year before he was born. The book encouraged young children to TRACE THE IMAGES contained for "fun" when the intent was clearly to imprint impressionable young minds with the Heinz logo and brand. Tracing paper was bound into the pamphlet on top of each Heinz product. The book has a date of 1927 and was published in Pittsburgh, PA. Pittsburgh was also Andy's home town and he was born one year later in 1928. As such, the small book, one of a series called "Heinz Kindergarten Books" would have been readily available to the young artist.

The images here come from the Heinz book number 6, so the series was well established and local Pittsburgh residents would have surely picked up the premium, which was free, for their children to play with.
Although not as famous as his Campbell's images, Warhol did produce art with the Heinz logo, just like the branding experts at H. J. Heinz apparently hoped he one day would! As the similarities are quite striking, and the location and dates too much of a coincidence to ignore, I believe Mr. Warhol may have played with books from the series and remembered it some 40 years later when he began using similar (in fact, nearly identical) images in his work. I am not speculating that Mr. Warhol traced this copy, as thousands of children would have had the book, but he clearly would have had access to another copy.

Have a look, consider it yourself...and contact the art historians!
Greg Allen on his blog has added some history on the book series and discusses the impact product advertising has on young minds.

The images were originally published a month ago on Dull Tool Dim Bulb, I am re-posting them along with a few additional scans. Just for the record, a Heinz Tomato Ketchup drawing by Warhol done in 1962 ( and quite similar to the very ketchup bottle shown in a tracing here from 1927) sold for over one million dollars at Christie's in 2009.


  1. See also John Foster's blog, additonal links to my speculation. Thanks!


  2. This was recently brought to my attention.
    Though this is a very interesting connection, my father, Paul Warhola, who was Andy's oldest brother says he has no recollection of such a coloring book in the household. As the unofficial archivist I have come across many pre-Pop commercially made items that very much resemble the trademark images that Andy used in his early paintings including Campbell's soup. I'm sorry to say that unless there was evidence that it was specifically his it's probably conincidental. It's my opinion that Andy's inspiration as a Pop artist needed more time to ferment.

  3. Thank you so much for taking the time to research the matter and for getting back to me! I did not expect firm evidence to be turned up, as it was some 80 years ago...and though I knew Mr. Warhol was a collector, it seemed unlikely that he would have saved items such as this from his childhood!
    The number of striking coincidences (Time, Place AND most of all Image) formed a solid trinity of legitimate questions, and I am glad to have brought the matter out for further study. Thanks you so much for looking into the matter! I will forward your response to several others who have written me regarding the matter. Jim Linderman

  4. Great find and interesting question. Who knows how long ideas ferment before showing later in life.

  5. Send me your email address and i'll send you some info on a traced early warhol self-portrait.