American Magazine Advertising 1904 – These Companies Have Bitten The Dust

Part II – Advertising From The Century Magazine October 1904 – Companies That Are Extinct

Underwood began production of typewriters in 1895. Up until 1959 when they were acquired by Olivetti, Underwood sold millions of typewriters. They made their last typewriter in the 1980s.

As we continue our look at advertising from the October 1904 issue of The Century Magazine we turn our gaze to the ads of companies that are no longer in business. Some names will be familiar to you, many others will not.

Brighton Garters ad 1904Something men no longer have to think about – holding up your socks. Brighton Garters part of the Pioneer Suspender Co., was one of many companies that became superfluous with the invention of elastic in 1958.

President Suspebder ad 1904Suspenders are still in use, but not to the degree they once were in the United States. President Suspenders clever ad showing movement while in use conveys the utilitarian side of the product. The C.A. Edgerton Mfg. Co. of Massachusetts made their sespenders until the 1930s.

Oldsmobile ad 1904The American automobile manufacturing business is fraught with turn-of-the-century failures. There where hundreds of companies competing for a slice of the burgeoning auto field. Oldsmobile built by Ransom Olds in 1897 and later taken over by General Motors was a long term survivor and stayed around until 2004. Here they offer three models; a Standard Runabout for $650; a Touring Runabout for $750 and the Light Tonneau Car for $950. The latter two were the first Oldsmobile models to feature a steering wheel. A red Light Tonneau Oldsmobile sold in 2016 at Bonham’s auction for $60,500.

Franklin automobile 1904 adThis Franklin ad tells the feat of covering 178 miles in only 8 hours without stopping the motor! Herbert H. Franklin produced his automobiles out of Syracuse, NY from 1902 – 1932.

Rambler automobile ad 1904The graveyard of extinct automobiles is littered with many cars like the Model H Rambler. At $850 the Model H could carry four people with its 7 horsepower engine.

Producers of bicycles under the Rambler brand name, partners R Philip Gormully and Thomas B Jeffery diversified into automobile manufacture as early as 1897 with a single-cylinder gasoline engined car. After the death of Jeffrey in 1914 the company ceased making the Rambler.

Rambler Co. was renamed Jeffrey and later sold in 1917 to Thomas Nash, forming Nash Motors Company. Nash had mergers with AMC and later Chrysler becoming part of the Jeep-Eagle division. The Rambler name lives on with Jeep Rambler. At Bonham’s auction in 2019 a 1904 Model H Rambler sold for $92,115.

The illustration of carrying coal was an unpleasant reality for millions of people when most homes were heated by coal. The American Radiator Company converted the heating process of countless homes and businesses with steam. The company merged multiple times and was out of business before the twenty-first century.

A.E. Little Shoes ad 1904Massachusetts was the center of the shoe industry in the United States for over 200 years. Almost all of the shoe companies that once flourished in Massachusetts are now gone including A.E. Little (1898-1934). The name Sorosis is derived from the ancient Greek word for sisterhood and was also the name of a famous women’s suffrage group of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Supporters of women’s rights in the early 20th century were often highly fashionable women who viewed clothing as an outward display of their modern views.

All America Shoes ad 1904Rice & Hutchins formed in 1866. Their All America shoes were among their most popular. The company closed their operations in 1929.

The Winchester Repeating Arms Co. is a name familiar to firearms enthusiasts. The original company was founded in 1866 out of the reorganization of The New Haven Arms Co. (1857)  by Oliver Winchester. There were mergers and bankruptcies in the intervening years. In 2006 after 140 years in New Haven, CT, the company under the control of U.S. Repeating Arms shut down its operations.

The Winchester name and its trademarks, owned by Olin Corporation, set up license agreements with two subsidiaries of the Herstal Group: Fabrique Nationale of Belgium and the Browning Arms Company of Ogden, UT,  to manufacture guns under the Winchester name.

Founded in 1873, E.T. Burrowes of Portland, ME was a manufacturer of fold-up home billiard and pool tables. They were also very well known for making screen doors for windows and doors. Burrowes had branch offices in 45 cities. The company lasted until 1965. Their vintage pool tables can still be found for sale at antiques stores and online.

Taking a cruise was quite different 117 years ago. It was for the very wealthy or the very poor. Steamship lines like Hamburg-American made their biggest profits not from exotic cruises like these advertised to The Orient, Jamaica and the Mediterranean. The money was made offering third class passage, otherwise known as steerage, to immigrants traveling to and from America.

Hamburg-American Line was in business from 1847 until 1969.  By the early 1970s almost all the great ocean liners had ceded their dominance to air travel.

This ad for the Oceanic Steamship Company offers travel to New Zealand, a place very few Americans knew anything about. Oceanic went to remote places such as Tahiti, Samoa, Australia and New Zealand. Oceanic was founded in 1881 by John D. Speckels, who was a San Diego industrialist. Among the many things Spreckels controlled were the Coronado Beach Company, the Hotel Del Coronado, the San Francisco Call newspaper, The San Diego Union and San Diego Tribune newspapers. Spreckels also owned the San Diego street railway system, and modernized it from horse power to electricity in 1892. Oceanic sold off its ships in 1970.

Iver Johnson’s Revolvers could be purchased for as little as $5.00. Iver Johnson’s Arms was in existence from 1871 to 1993. The name was resold in 2006 and the current company is not a continuation of the former Iver Johnson’s Arms.

Ah, the joy of taking a morning bath or shower. As Rider-Ericsson Engine Co, asks in their advertising with no intended hyperbole: “If it be true that ‘cleanliness is next to Godliness’ then must the Hot Air Pump go hand in hand with Christianity, with civilization, with the clean and better life?” If you were in a rural community an engine like the one offered here gave you that ability.

John Ericsson started his company in 1842. RIder Engines incorporated  in 1879. Using John Ericsson’s patents the Rider-Ericsson Co. was formed in 1897. John Ericcson (1803-1889) invented the screw propeller, gun turret and is considered the father of the battleship, having built the famous Monitor for the north in the Civil War. The Spence Engineering Company purchased and absorbed Rider-Ericsson in 1939.

Fairy Soap ad 1904Fairy Soap’s innocent ad might offend the modern eyes of the unhinged ultra-politically correct. No, they were not slurring gays by asking, “Have you a little ‘Fairy’ in your home?” In 1904 the word “fairy” was rarely used as a demeaning term for homosexual. Then, “there’s no white soap, like Fairy soap.” That might be construed as racist.

Fairy produced by N.K Fairbank Company was in existence from 1875 until the 1923. Succeeding afterwards as the Gold Dust Company (another Fairbanks brand name) until 1936 when it was renamed the Hecker Products Corporation. Fairy soap remained on store shelves until 1946. There is a Fairy soap sold in India and other countries but it is unrelated to its predecessor.

Patent medicine flourished in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Today people still fall for quacks and nostrums. The ability to offer people false promises and bad information has not wavered in the past 100 years. Read the claims of Drs. W.E. Brown & Son and their Berkshire Hills Sanatorium. Cancer and tumors permanently cured.X-Rays and radium are worthless.

Which leads us to the modern conundrum: should doctors  / hospitals be allowed to advertise? Advertising is how the Berkshire Hills Sanatorium got most of their clients and made them money.  Dr. William Brown and his son Wallace (who joined his father’s practice in 1878 at age 12!) stopped advertising in 1908 at the insistence of other medical professionals, Business dried up and the Sanatorium closed the year after.

1 thought on “American Magazine Advertising 1904 – These Companies Have Bitten The Dust

  1. Brian

    My father had an Underwood typewriter that he bought when he was in college in the 1950s — even then it was an antique. He had it up until he sold it in the early 2000s, and at nearly 100 years old it still worked great, better than many electric typewriters I’ve used. If ribbon is still available I’m sure it would be still serviceable, wherever it is.


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