Tag Archives: 1910s

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The Literary Digest – December 30, 1911

Yesterday when we visited Popular Science in the 1970s, we found our magazine’s audience to be handy and practical people. Today we visit the Literary Digest over a century ago and the readers of this little publication have a lot of money to spread around. So let’s see what the richest or the rich were doing with their money in 1911. Cover price for this mag: 10 cents. That’s a modest $2.30 adjusted for inflation.

The cruise industry was alive and well. You could take a 78-day cruise for $325.

From Classic Ads – Travel

Not feeling like cruising? How about the train or perhaps a trip to Cube, “A winter paradise”

From Classic Ads – Travel

For those days when you’re not feeling up to traveling, there are plenty of miracle medicines to save the day including Sanatogen. 15,000 physicians approve, after all.

From Classic Ads – Misc

How did our affluent readers make all their money? Manhattan real estate and 5% Municipal bonds, of course!

From Classic Ads – Misc
From Classic Ads – Misc

This was a time much different than today. When’s the last time you bought a book that advertised its weight let alone one that was 13 pounds?

From Classic Ads – Books

When they weren’t investing or reading their really heavy books there was much luxurious food! This Cream of Wheat ad today would get someone firebut I post it here as a relic of an archaic value system that made this sort of thing not only acceptable but a good advertising tool.

From Classic Ads – Food And Drink

Prefer your cereal cold rather than warm? Post Toasties…

From Classic Ads – Food And Drink

…go well with a bit of sugar.

From Classic Ads – Food And Drink

And the immortal Chiclet has been around literally forever.  For sale at the “better sort of stores” the ad croons.

From Classic Ads – Food And Drink

Lastly, the rich wouldn’t be the rich without a car or four.  The Cadillac auto is a car for “discriminating motorists, those to whom price is only a minor consideration.”

From Classic Ads – Automotive
Advertisement

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Filed under Automobiles, Books, Food and Drink, travel

1919 Simplex Ironer – Perfect Valentine’s Day Gift…?

This 1919 ad for a rather large household device to do the ironing touts itself as a “never-to-be-forgotten gift”.  I can say without fear of contradiction that that’s exactly true.  She’ll remember it and you’ll remember the beating that she’ll lay on you after you give it to her.

 

1919 Simplex Ironer - You're sure to get a beating.

1919 Simplex Ironer - You're sure to get a beating.

What sort of culture made it appropriate to gift such things? Or perhaps advertisers were just duping the male populous into such misinformed gift giving. Woe to the man that listens. He’s likely to find himself doing his own ironing for a while.

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Filed under Household

When Bigger Meant Better – 1914 Hamburg American Cruise Lines

Just a few years after a rather unpleasant occurrence with an unsinkable ship, we find the cruise line industry is still going strong. The Vaterland would find itself seized by the Americans at the commencement of World War I and put to service in the U.S. Navy.

From Classic Ads – Travel

Note the text offers a 135-day cruise for $900. That would be $19,000 in today’s dollars. Pretty sure I don’t have that sort of money laying about but if you all just donate $20 I’ll promise to write to you every day.

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Colgate’s Ribbon Dental Cream – 1911

I like this advert so much that it hangs framed in my bathroom. Firstly, we’ve got a brick wall in the background. What says solid, firm and true better than a brick wall? My teeth feel stronger already and I haven’t even brushed yet. If I’m not careful I may take a bite out of my laptop in a fit of overzealous machismo.

If you read the text, it’s very martial in tone. You’re WANTED! Wanted to ENLIST in the Call of Good Teeth! And to think that all this manly bravado comes in a little pink tube at the cost of only four cents. Damn! Now that was some value!

Manly as Hell in a Little Pink Tube

Manly as Hell in a Little Pink Tube

Now if you’ll excuse me I’m going to go brush my teeth and try like the dickens to whistle the Marine Corp Hymn at the same time. IT’S GO TIME PEOPLE! GET IN THERE AND APPLY THAT DECAY PREVENTIVE DENTIFRICE!

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Filed under tooth care

1915 Overland Six – A Big Six at a Small Price

I’ve flipped through enough old publications that I have learned to look forward with great anticipation to the centerfold. These big, flashy ads are almost always stunning.

At $1475 ($31,300 if you adjust for inflation), the Overland was a pretty pricy item for its day. But that bought you a 45 horsepower motor. That’s about a third of the average passenger car today.

1915 Overland Six

1915 Overland Six (Click for detail)

Interesting too to note the mode of dress of the people involved. The women dressed dark and plain with the only color coming from the small girl in the middle. The car seats seven, though I can’t speak for how comfortable anyone would have been.

One thing that I absolutely adore about WordPress is that I can throw out a rather half-hearted entry like the one above and somebody will come along within 10 minutes and ask a great question that forces me to actually THINK about what I just posted. Doug Payne asked: “Have an opinion on the significance of the color in the ad?” It seemed a good enough question that I thought it worth putting my random speculation into the body of the post.

You ask a great question that I hadn’t thought about (I’ll admit that my theme on this blog is consistent but my level of analysis really isn’t.)

If I had to guess…. I’ve looked at a LOT Of auto ads from this time period and the reason I hadn’t bothered to scan more is that they’re all really REALLY similar. There just isn’t the variety of designs that we enjoy today and the only thing to differentiate between them is the stats and the price point. So the color, I would speculate, draws attention to the only two things that would really matter to the affluent reader of this magazine. (The Literary Digest is aimed at a much more affluent crowd) It’s cheaper and bigger than the competition. The other colors are kept muted so help draw attention to the aforementioned items. Our central focal point is the girl in the middle in red and she’s clearly portrayed as having a grand time. But that’s just my speculation on the topic. I’d love to hear others!

Thanks, Doug!

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Filed under Automobiles

Baker Electric Automobiles – 1911

In today’s world we’re impressed with automobile innovations like the Chevy Volt and hybrids but it’s easy to forget that we actually already DID the whole electric vehicle thing as evidenced by this ad from 1911 that sings the praises of the Shaft-Driven Baker Electric Motor-Vehicle. The “long distance” referred to in the ad was, in fact, 50 miles.

1911 Baker Electric Vehicles

1911 Baker Electric Vehicles

The Baker Electric price topped out at $2,800, which is $36,000 when you adjust for inflation. The company merged with Rauch and Lang in 1914 and the last Baker vehicles left the assembly lines in 1916.

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Filed under Automobiles

Gilbert Radium Dial Clocks – 1919

I suspect that many of you may have been saying to yourselves over the past few ads, “But what does one DO with such a thing you happen to have a paper copy?” I, for one, have found them to be wonderful gifts to give at random to whoever you happen to have in your vicinity. From all the aching and swollen belly of history there is so much to choose from that you can tune your gift to a razor point and not only entertain but represent well the person receiving it. So in this spirit, I give you my personal favorite gift given.

It wasn’t so long ago that the radium clock was all the rage. Give the Gilbert Radium Dial clock and slowly irradiate all your family and friends!  I produced this bit o’ art in 2009.  I title it simply, “Folly”

Gilbert Radium Clocks - 1919

Gilbert Radium Clocks - 1919 (Click to view the original and zoom to see all the fiddlybits)

The background collage for this piece is a collection of all the most grim things I could find throughout history. Political cartoons from World War I, ads for Asbestos shingles, Colt 45 revolvers, Eugenics, the sinking of the French ship Bouvet and the headline on new chemical warfare techniques.  We’re a pretty grim species sometimes.

PS: As I look at this I realize that there are a LOT of people to whom I owe something of this kind.  I did about 10 of these a few years ago and they were received with varying levels of… tolerance.  It’s time to begin again, methinks.  Anyone out there in radio land who would be interested in obtaining a custom-made work need merely drop me a line and we can work out the terms.

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Filed under Household

Ridpath’s History of the World – 1911

It’s hard to believe that 100 years ago it was fairly common to buy a set of books 4000 pages long. Now you can get this massive setdelivered to you by Amazon.com for the ripe sum of $100. Unfortunately this ad from the 1911 Literary Digest doesn’t tell us how much this huge set cost at the time but it’s fairly easy to suspect that it hasn’t appreciated much in value in 100 years.

Ridpath's History of the World - 1911

Ridpath's History of the World - 1911

I’d suggest you order yours today. Where else can you go back to the dawn of history and hang out with Caesar and Rubicon? Not to mention, think how many flowers you could press between SO many pages?

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Filed under Books

Gillette Safety Razor [1912]

This little gem from the archives is 100 years old this year. Lost to most of us today is the man who popularized the safety razor, King Camp Gillette. He’s got his picture right on the package! He brought us the thin, disposable type of razor rather than the long 6-inch kind that made Sweeney Todd’s clients so uncomfortable. 12 blades sold for $1 in 1912 which is about $22 if you take into account inflation.

Gillett Safety Razor - 1912

Gillett Safety Razor - 1912

Good news though! No special preparation necessary or training necessary! Just a good, good lather but for the LOVE OF GOD DON’T FORGET TO RUB IT IN! I have no idea why the emphasis on the rubbing as indicated by the italics. Perhaps there was a special Gillette lather rubbing kit sold separately.

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Filed under Peronsal Grooming, Shaving