What is the most glanced over part of a circular publication? I’d say the editorial notes with the advertisements right behind them. Especially nowadays when we know exactly what kind of deals are at our local supermarket and, if we don’t know, we have Google to tell us. But give or take thirty years and the humble advertisement might become curiously interesting. Suddenly it is fun to find out how much was milk when our grandma got married and what company used to sell donkey stones (pssst… Eli Whalley & Company). Today I have a couple of examples of ‘ye oldie’ adverts from the St Mark College Magazine, and some later ones from Marjon Magazine. Those adverts are especially interesting as they were published in a specialized publication and intended for a specific audience. Most of them advertised local businesses and people that sell school materials, but sometimes you’ve got more general services like coal deliveries.
For the modern eyes the adverts from before the true mass media era look really strange. There are whole pages in the St. Mark Magazine before the thirties that are promoting many different things, but there isn’t one with an illustration. And I don’t mean photographs. I mean no graphics whatsoever- no drawing and no logos. Most of them just give a sample of prices for specific articles they sell. It feels a bit austere, but on the other hand I can see how useful it could be- you knew exactly where to go for the things you’d need.
I think that the first illustration I spotted in the issue from the 1935 and it was for a coal supplying company. A bit strange place for a picture, I assume it’s a replica of the advertising poster: Brentnall and Cleland, a coal trading company. This guy seems to know more about them, but I can’t find any picture of an advert poster. Maybe it is the last place you can still see it. Funny where the research can take you.
After that, the magazines started to be less text and more graphic. More and more photographs started to populate the pages. I’d say that some went a little bit overboard, like the Reeves artist’s materials.
Finally, I had a look at the Marjon Magazine’s advertisements from the beginning of this century and found out that, at one point, you could own a Marjon Visa…aww, now I want one too!:-)
I’ve always found the ‘everyday’ history more interesting than the ‘big events’ history. The day-to-day is quick to escape the memory, unlike the grand historical moments. I guess that the old advertisements preserve the simple stuff in a
strangely effortless way.