Today would the Federal Trade Commission have a problem with this Schlitz beer ad? Probably, but this ad is from a 1904 Puck Magazine. And the creation of the FTC to oversee truth in advertising was another 10 years off.
That’s what I love about 1904. You could say almost any ridiculous thing in print and get away with it. Continue reading →
New York City commercial photographer John S. Johnston took this photo a few minutes before 1:00 pm on a lively day in 1895. We are looking north from 33rd Street where Sixth Avenue and Broadway converge to form Herald Square.
This vantage point from the Sixth Avenue Elevated station’s platform was a favorite for many photographers in the 19th century.
In the center stands the New York Herald newspaper building. The paper had just moved from Park Row to its new headquarters designed by McKim Mead and White in 1894.
A train is about to pull into the Sixth Avenue Elevated 33rd Street Station. Trolleys and horse drawn carriages share Broadway’s wide street and the sidewalks are crowded with pedestrians.
The large painted advertisement on the side of its building marks the eight story Hotel Normandie which was completed in 1884 and located at Broadway and 38th Street.
Years after our photograph of Herald Square was taken, the Hotel Normandie received a new advertising sign, but not for advertising the hotel.
On June 18, 1910 the Hotel Normandie unveiled one of the largest moving illuminated advertising signs in the world on its roof. The sign showed a Roman chariot race with three chariots appearing to race one another speeding around an arena. The sign had 20,000 white and colored lights and astounded crowds of people who gawked at its illusion of movement.
The most noticeable difference between these vintage ads from only 67 years ago and ads today is that almost every ad was for a service or product made in the United States. The few ads that were not for U.S. products, typically were for luxury products from France, Great Britain or Italy. Today go into any retail store and pick up almost any item and look for where it was made. Nineteen times out of twenty it will be made overseas, usually in China and most likely of inferior quality.
Post World War II marked the beginning of the end of the luxurious era of train travel. The Union Pacific Railroad offered west coast travel on their Streamliners to and from Chicago. By the 1950s railroads would be permanently overtaken by airlines for long distance travel.
Before the internet if you needed some information about a subject you could look it up yourself or you could call the New York Public Library information desk. The library still offers this service. But there were also paid services for “sophisticated New Yorkers” like this one called Facts on Dial, Inc..
You could call Facts on Dial with almost any question and the researchers would have your answer “within minutes, sometimes even seconds.” In 1950 Facts on Dial was sued by Facts on File for unfair competition and trademark infringement. That was the end of Facts on Dial. If you call the number for Facts on Dial now, MU6-7800, ironically, a law firm answers.
Amelia Earhart Luggage? Do you want your luggage to have the same fate as Amelia Earhart? Why a luggage company would name themselves after a pilot who vanished without a trace would seem bizarre. But the brand was launched in the 1930s by Orenstein Trunk of Newark N.J. when Amelia was the queen of the skies and very much alive.
Oyster themed restaurants were plentiful in New York City when the waters along the east coast were chock full of oyster beds.
Richard Ockendon, better known as “Dick, the Oysterman,” had his original basement restaurant on Third Street since the turn-of-the-century. It was famous as a hang-out place for writers and artists. O. Henry based one of his short stories, The Country of Elusion on the bohemian restaurant.
Dick died of pneumonia on January 23, 1916 at the age of 39, but his name and restaurant lived on, catering to the culinary tastes of Greenwich Village. By 1920 Dick’s had moved to Eighth Street where they remained until they closed their doors in 1952.
GLORIOUS OPPORTUNITY TO GET RICH QUICK Invest in THE CALIFORNIA RANCHING COMPANY Now being organized to start a cat ranch in California.
We are starting a cat ranch in California with 100,000 cats. Each cat will average twelve kittens a year. The cat skins will sell for 30 cents each. One hundred men can skin 5,000 cats a day. We ﬁgure a daily net proﬁt of over $10,000.
NOW WHAT SHALL WE FEED THE CATS? We will start a rat ranch next door with 1,000,000 rats. The rats will breed twelve times faster than the cats. So, we’ll have four rats to feed each day to each cat. Now what shall we feed the rats? We will feed the rats the carcasses of the cats after they have been skinned.
NOW GET THIS We feed the rats to the cats, and the cats to the rats, and get the cat skins for nothing. Shares are selling at 5 cents each, but the price will go up soon.
INVEST WHILE OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS AT YOUR DOOR CALIFORNIA RANCHING COMPANY
So what’s the story here? This can’t be a real enterprise can it? The following story appeared in The American Magazine in 1920 explaining the ad.
The Savings & Trust Co. of Cleveland wanted to warn people about bad investments. Continue reading →
And you thought Ralston-Purina just made pet food? Apparently not.
It is always fascinating to look back on how products and services were advertised long ago.
These ads all appeared in various issues of Collier’s Weekly Magazine during the autumn and winter of 1901.
Snor-O-Dont promises snoring will be stopped instantly and that failure is impossible and no medicine is involved. So what is the secret of Snor-O-Don’t? I don’t know. By the looks of the illustration the man is so sleep deprived that he may be reaching behind him to cover her face with a pillow. Suffocation, that’s a permanent snoring solution.
Iver Johnson, manufacturers of bicycles. guns and revolvers says that “accidental discharge is impossible” with their safety hammerless automatic revolver. What better way to demonstrate the safety of a handgun than to show a cherubic child poised to fire it?
4 Cylinders, 30 Horsepower, With Speeds Reaching Up To 50 Miles Per Hour!
In the first couple of decades of U.S. automaking, there were so many car companies competing for what was originally a very limited business. From 1895-1930 it is estimated that there were over 1,800 car manufacturers in the United States alone. Cadillac is one of the few companies that survived those early days and have flourished into the 21st century.
I found this ad which appeared in the September 8, 1906 issue of Scientific American Magazine while researching the previous story on the Singer Building. Cadillac Motor Car Co. proclaims several things for the new Model H:
A veritable wonder in hill climbing!
Perfect planetary transmission
Double acting steering device that greatly increases safety
Maybe In 1955 This Type Of Advertising Attracted Women To Products
These advertisements featuring women and various products are all from the December 12, 1955 issue of Life Magazine.
If you believed the advertising, a scale may have seemed like an appropriate gift, because the ad proclaims, “the Counselor Capri is the scale for you… or as a gift for others.” By others I’m assuming those people you want to give a not so subtle hint to.
While an electric razor is a practical gift I am dubious of the ad’s claim that “Now every woman wants Lady Sunbeam.” I doubt that this would make any woman’s top ten…. ummm, better make that top 100, gift wish list today.
Remember folks that this isn’t just any vacuum, it’s a Lewyt. A Lewyt? I like the way the woman is dressed for vacuuming.
It wasn’t just Lewyt’s roller and nozzle on wheels that was a breakthrough in vacuuming, Apparently vacuums had some other big innovations with the Eureka Roto-Dolly. Also “no dust bag to empty,” means Mrs. 1955 Housewife won’t soil her chic white dress that she does the vacuuming in.
“The Christmas gift that rings a bell,” the Bell Telephone System says. Something as simple as installing a kitchen telephone will have your wife saying, “I have the nicest husband.” This appears to be a large kitchen. So one question: is that the best place for the telephone? Please take note of the length of the phone cord.
Fifth Ave and Broadway Looking North From The Top of the Flatiron Building 1904
The Fuller Building known more commonly as the Flatiron Building sits at the convergence of Fifth Avenue and Broadway at 23rd Street. It is a great place to get a nice view of Manhattan, so the Keystone View Company sent a photographer to take this picture on a clear late summer day in 1904. This photo shows the two principal avenues of Manhattan splitting north after 24th street with Broadway branching off to the left and Fifth Avenue on the right.
The streets are busy with horsecars, trolleys and a few automobiles making their way up and downtown as all streets had traffic running both ways. Continue reading →
“Gee. Look At That Pair Of Skinny Scarecrows. Why Don’t They Try Sargol?”
Early 20th Century Advertising
As this 1915 ad proclaims it is “no longer necessary to be “thin scrawny and undeveloped.”
Our thin conscious society today might be a good market for this product, except for the fact that the United States is thefattest country in the world, so we don’t need any help in putting on weight.
The usual cause for being too thin in the early 20th century was poverty and disease, not bad eating habits. People suffering from tuberculosis, diabetes, malassimilation of food, chronic diarrhea, Bright’s Disease and other malady’s were prime candidates to use Sargol. And since hundreds of thousands of people were concerned about being underweight they looked anywhere they could for cures. Sargol promised them the hope that they could put on weight.
But as with most ads of this nature, the Sargol Company was selling quackery.
Sargol started their business in 1908 and teamed up with Parke, Davis & Co. to manufacture their fat pills. Sargol was sold primarily through mail order to the public by taking out hundreds of ads in newspapers, magazines and almanacs to push their nostrum. The ingredients in their “miracle” drug was nothing more than saw palmetto; calcium; sodium; potassium; lecithin and nux vomica.
Sargol’s scam netted them over $3 million before the government fined them $30,000 in 1917 after a thirteen week trial and shut them down for good.