Ads of yesteryear

While pursuing a new history writing project (which I hope will turn into something that I can blog about in the not-too-distant future), I have been spending time in the digitized pages of historical BC newspapers.

The ads are what fascinate me most. Promises of the best and latest clothing, home furnishings, industrial equipment, wedding gifts, undergarments, confectionery, shoes, dinnerware, baking supplies, personal hygiene products, cigarettes, cures and remedies, hats, seedlings . . . the goods and services on offer, as seen in the random selection of ads below from 1895 and 1896 in the Vancouver Daily World, are dizzying.

Most of the ads seem unimaginable to us as contemporary consumers, the brand names downright laughable to today’s sensibilities. (Odoroma anyone? Pri-mo ladies’ syringe? Google that last one and you’ll soon figure it out.) But they tell us of a real world. A different (and sometimes an all too familiar) world.

Most of the ads seem unimaginable to us as contemporary consumers . . . But they tell us of a real world. A different (and sometimes an all too familiar) world.

Just as these century-plus-old ads smack of a day lone gone by, so will today’s ads seem quaint a century from now. (“What in the world was an iPad?”) Hence, I guess, part of my fascination.