6 ½ Hours From L.A. to Santa Barbara (And That’s With No Traffic!)
What has four cylinders, 24 horsepower, weighs 2300 pounds and gets you from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara in just under 6 ½ hours?
A 1904 Peerless automobile. Future millionaire Norman W. Church took out this ad for Peerless in the Sunday, June 5, 1904 Los Angeles Times.
For a trip that today can take three hours with moderate traffic, 6 ½ hours in 1904 is a miracle. The “roads” in 1904 were in a primitive state to say the least. Rural roads were frequently dirt paths filled with rocks and sand. Many times you’d have to drive through a field to get from place to place. Paved roads in California were a rarity, usually found in cities.
The interesting thing about the ad is that the Peerless will make the trip “without a single mechanical adjustment.” That indeed was a rarity as automobiles were constantly being tinkered with. You had to be your own mechanic or bring one with you, as breakdowns were frequent.
You may be wondering if the Los Angeles to Santa Barbara trip took six and a half hours, how quickly in the early 1900s could you drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco? Continue reading
This 1984 Advertisement For An Instant Messaging System Will Amaze You (Or Maybe It Won’t)
If you were born after 1986 you have always had the internet and email at your disposal since childhood. It may come as a surprise to you that in one form or another email has been around since the 1960s.
But when did IM (Instant Messaging) come into being?
The early 1980s saw the dawn of what would later be termed instant messaging.
From an advertisement in the November 12, 1984 issue of Newsweek magazine, this is what one of the first instant messaging systems looked like:
Easylink 1984 advertisement
Introduced in 1982 Western Union’s EasyLink system was considered revolutionary. EasyLink’s messages were stored in the computer memory and not seen until the user checked to see if there were any messages. Continue reading
A Look Back At Food Prices In 1976. How Much Have Food Prices Really Increased In The Last 40 Years?
If you do the supermarket shopping and pay attention to prices, you may have noticed that most items seem to have gone up in price significantly or shrunk in size over the last few years. But have prices really gone up that much over the long run?
We decided to take a look back at three supermarket ads from September 1, 1976 in the Evening News which covered the Hudson Valley in the suburbs of New York City.
The advertisers were Grand Union Supermarkets which were spread throughout the northeast and in business from 1872 – 2013. A&P Supermarkets were in business from 1859 until last year. And ShopRite Supermarkets, founded in 1946 which is still in business and going strong.
Here are closeups of portions of the full page ads and below that is a chart with 1976 supermarket food prices versus 2016 prices. Continue reading
When There Was Absolutely No Truth In Advertising
Why Drink Water, When You Can Drink Schlitz?
“Doctors Say Drink More Schlitz”
Which doctors? Doctor Al K. Holic?
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
Herald Square 1895
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.
From the photograph above Continue reading
10 Advertisements From Winter Issues of The New Yorker In 1949
We’ve done this before looking at the advertising that appeared in The New Yorker magazine and decided to do it again. These ads appeared in the December 3, 10 & 17, 1949 issues of the magazine.
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.
This Unbelievable Ad Appeared in 1920
GLORIOUS OPPORTUNITY TO GET RICH QUICK
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
Nine Advertisements From Collier’s Weekly -1901
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?
Nothing like being direct…chump. Continue reading
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
Independent steel engine suspension Continue reading
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.