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December 29, 2016

20 Crazy and Interesting Vintage Ads From the 1910 World Almanac

One big difference between old advertising and today’s advertisements, is that today you sometimes have to scrutinize the ad to discover exactly what it is they are trying to sell to you. Image plays a greater part in modern advertising.

The 1910 World Almanac cover.

Back in 1910 it was the words that counted. When you look at old advertising you will notice that the copywriter gets right to the point about the product, though somewhat verbosely.

One thing has remained the same: advertisers used the same swaggering claims back then that they use today. Even if they are completely false.

Here are some sample advertisements from among the hundreds contained in the 1910 World Almanac.

1. Fat Is Not Good Flesh

As long as their have been people unhappy with their weight, there have been people and companies who will exploit mankind’s battle with their waistlines. Loring & Co. marketed reducing tablets warning customers that “Fat Is Not Good Flesh.” Their reducing tablets tapped into something back then that is popular today: they contain no chemicals and are made wholly of roots and herbs.

2. Fat Is Fatal

Dr. J. Spillenger of New York City uses endorsements from customers and a dramatic illustration, while warning readers that “Fat Is Fatal.” New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg would agree with the good doctor. What Dr. Spillenger does not say is exactly what his methods are to help you lose weight. Whatever his method, it involves not starving or exercising. “Rheumatism, Asthma, Kidney and Heart Troubles will leave as fat is reduced. Don’t take my word for this: I will prove it at my own expense,” the copy reads.

3. Corpulent People

Then there are those people who had no desire to lose weight but merely appear slimmer. (Sounds like many products that are available today.) For that, there was a booming market in all sorts of corsets and belts to hold in your weight. The A. Parks Black Company calls out to “Corpulent People,” to use their abdominal obesity belts to help prevent the accumulation of superfluous flesh. The obesity and kidney belt also supposedly prevents hernia and appendicitis and are available for as little as $3.00. Also scrotum supporters starting at 75¢ for Stage purposes, Athletes, Horsemen, Golfers, etc.

4. Dr. Scott’s Electric Corsets

Electricity would also be an additional aid in your battle against the bulge. So the amazing Dr. Scott, who had been in business for 32 years, came up with Dr. Scott’s Electric Corsets. This great invention will cure not only rheumatism and liver and kidney problems, but also lame back, nervousness and improve the circulation.

If that wasn’t enough, Dr. Scott who does not mention where he received his medical degree, has electric hair brushes which will remove dandruff and prevent falling hair and cure all scalp disorders.

5. How To Get Fat Free

On the opposite side of being fat, there was also a problem with our early 20th century ancestors being too slim. The Sargol Company advertises “How To Get Fat Free.” The copy says, “Excessive thinness is very mortifying. Thin men never look like ‘real money.’ They are pushed aside in the race for success. Bony women are seldom very popular. Dress will not hide skin and bones. All men admire fine figures.”

A 50¢ box of their pills will be sent free to any home and “will work wonders in making scrawny undeveloped men and women plump and attractive. The illustration caption sums up everything to make you uncomfortable with your skinniness, “The Happy, Successful World Turns Its Back on Thin Folks.”

6. Are You Too Thin?

The C.L. Jones Company in Elmira, NY is more discreet by simply asking in their headline, “Are You Too Thin?”

The Jones Company goes on to ask, “Would a little more flesh make you more stylish and attractive?”

They claim that Dr. Whitney’s Nerve and Flesh Builder (a vegetable compound), “will give you a superb figure with beautiful arms, shapely neck and shoulders, full round bust, and well developed limbs, not for the time being, but permanently.” The final bit of nonsense is that it “will positively enlarge the bust from two to six inches.”

7. Vigorous Manhood

Moving on to related area of insecurity – Vigorous Manhood – which will be restored to you as promised by Dr. Alfred Sanden and his electric belt which is to be worn “every night and all night.” It will “send a great, warm flowing volume of electricity into your body through the nerve centres at small of back…you will feel and look young and strong again; women and men noticing your physical change will be more attracted to you on account of your new vitality and life: in two months you can experience the full vigor of perfect manhood.”

Dr. Sanden will also send you his book free, which has a part entitled “Strength,” a private treatise for men only. If you were concerned about privacy and what your mailman would tell the neighbors, the package would be sent sealed by mail upon application.

8. For The Lame With Short Limb

The E.L. O’Connor Mfg. Co. was very blunt when it came to advertising their wares. “We hide your lameness.” Many people needed prosthetics and advertisements for them were common. With ad copy like, “By wearing our Extension, we make you look like other people, not lame,” how could you resist buying their product?

9. Brush Automobile

Shifting gears, if you wanted to buy a car there were many choices and price ranges. For only $495 you could buy Everyman’s Car, The Brush automobile from the Brush Runabout Co..

10. The New York Auto School

With the growing automobile industry came the natural need for qualified mechanics. The New York School of Automobile Engineers recognized this need and became one of many schools that would furnish the burgeoning industry with the necessary staff to maintain and fix cars.

11. Meilinks Safe

Safes were a big industry in the late 19th and early 20th century. The Meilink Mfg. Co. of Toledo, Ohio manufactured safes for all sorts of people and purposes.

With prices starting at only $8.00, almost anyone with valuables to lock away could afford a safe in their house.

The selling point in 1910 was that their safes were “the only safe guaranteed against dampness rusted bolt work and swollen walls.”

Meilink, founded in 1899 is still in the safe business today.

12. Red Nose and Pimple Face?

Bendiner & Schlesinger Druggists on 3rd Avenue and 10th Street have something to help you.

13. Why should you read The World?

There are seven good reasons according to the ad.

Considering almost every newspaper in the country had a political bias, The World claimed they were independent in politics. Another chief reason to read The World is that they were indefatigable in gathering news. As proof of their superiority, The World boasted they had more than twice the circulation of any other morning newspaper in New York.

14. Subscribe to The New York Sunday World

A separate ad for Almanac readers to consider subscribing to The New York Sunday World stated that they were simply the best at everything, whether it be news, editorials, writers, humor etc. The annual cost for a subscription was $2.50.

15. "Acme" Fire Extinguisher

A fire extinguisher was a necessity few could afford in 1910. Offered here straight out of a Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote cartoon, comes the “Acme” Fire Extinguisher.

16. No More Bald Heads?

William Charles Keene, president of the Lorrimer Institute asks in his ad, “No More Bald Heads? Baltimore Specialist Says Baldness Is Unnecessary And Proves It.”

Of course it is not true.

Keene, was just another charlatan in a long line of patent medicine fakers peddling his wares to a gullible public through an earnest appeal to try his treatment for free.

17. A Perfect Typewriter

The Bennett Portable Typewriter was an affordable choice for those who wanted an inexpensive typewriter. As the ad states, “it does everything the most expensive machines can do for you, as easily, quickly and neatly as you desire.”

The ad is not exaggerating about the portability of the typewriter. The ad describes that it is “so compact that it may be carried about in pocket or suitcase or slipped into desk drawer- yet big enough for every use.”

The Bennett was the smallest keyboard typewriter ever built, at about the size of a small box of chocolates.

18. Burglar-Proof Coffin

Many advertisements appear for coffins and burial apparatus. The Champion Chemical Company displays here “The Baker Burglar-Proof Metallic Grave Vault.”

It offered “positive protection from water, vermin and grave robbers.”

The copy boasts, “These vaults are made from heavy steel plates and malleable iron, securely riveted and caulked, and are just as water-tight as any steam boiler. Ten massive concealed locks make them absolutely Burglar-proof.”

Between the fear of being buried alive and grave robber’s, coffin and vault companies did a thriving business.

19. Trommers Evergreen Brewery

Moving on from coffins, we go to Trommer’s Evergreen Brewery at Bushwick and Conway Streets which was located near the The Cemetery of the Evergreens in Brooklyn.

The brewery housed a restaurant cafe and garden.

Trommer’s was acquired by Piel’s in 1951 and Piel’s closed the brewery in 1955.

20. Dr. E.L. Styles Sanitarium

If you enjoyed beer too much you might end up at Dr. E.L. Styles Sanitarium in New Britain Connecticut, which was among the many places you could go to get weened off of liquor. The other nasty 1910 habits that Dr. Styles scientifically treated were opium, morphine and cocaine.

Dr Styles proclaims “that over 20,000 people have been cured by this treatment over the last seven years.”

The sanitarium appealed to “business men who feel the need of getting straightened out quickly, and with all the comforts of home surroundings.”

(via Stuff Nobody Cares About)


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