Tag Archives: advertising

Paris-Designed Handbags from Montgomery Ward

Lately I’ve been attracted to ads that are shaped like the objects they are promoting. I’m sure there is a name for this, but it escapes me at the moment. I recently found this example of a handbag sales folder from Montgomery Ward.

The back of the folder even has the back strap handle printed onto the paper.

Open the “handbag” and you see the $4.85 Paris-designed handbags offered by Montgomery Ward. There is a variety of styles in various leathers, most being offered in more than one color. There were several designs in ostrich and French kid antelope.

Some of the clasps have marcasite ornaments, and one has crocodile trim. The “shell frames” seen on two designs are simulated. In all, they look to be quality products. The $4.85 price looks to be a tremendous bargain, but the US Inflation Calculator tells me the cost in 2019 dollars would be $71.69. That is still a good price for a quality handbag.

One thing my little paper handbags lacks is a date. From the styles I knew this dated to the second half of the 1920s, or maybe into the early 30s. But a close reading of the ad copy provided the exact answer.

Montgomery Ward dated the beginning of the company to 1872, so add fifty-six years to that, and I determined that the brochure dates to 1928.

Another part of the ad copy reveals a bit of how the fashion industry operated at the time.

Created from original Models, hurried to us by our French Fashion Correspondent, and copied for us by an American Manufacturer whose name stands for the best in fine Leather Goods.

5 Comments

Filed under Collecting, Curiosities

Keds Display Ideas. 1940

It seems like someone is always trying to sell us something. With the internet and companies tracking our every click, we are subjected to targeted ads everytime we open a digital device. Websites we visit are covered with display ads.  There’s nothing subtle about it.

Stores have always known that to sell a product, the consumer has to notice it. Store windows have been designed to draw people into stores, and once in the store, displays are set up to attract attention. It’s true today, and it was true in 1940,when the footwear manager of sales at Keds sent out a portfolio of suggested ways to promote Keds in windows and in the stores that sold them.

As you will see, there was a central theme that stores were being encouraged to emphasize. Can you spot what the theme is?

All the displays were built around several counter display cards like the two seen above. I’ll guess that the cards were a part of the display package that included my display booklet. The above display was titled Gardening and Leisure.

Vacation and Camp features a counter card with hikers. I wonder where they got that little tent.

Keds are also great for leisure hours, but who in their right mind thought doing laundry in a wringer washer was part of leisure? It’s obvious that Mr. Adman never did a load of washing in one of those monsters.

The booklet also had suggestions for the Kedettes line of shoes. Kedettes was still made of canvas, but were a step dressier than sneakers. Here’s the consumer is reminded that Kedettes go well with one’s playtogs, like that playsuit.

There was even a display suggestion for the piece goods department.  I really wish these photo were in color. I’ve seen these shoes in vintage magazine ads and they are so bright and colorful.

There were also suggestions on how to pair Kedettes with hosiery. Somehow I can’t quite picture these comfortable shoes paired up with a girdle and stockings, but then I’m looking at this through modern eyes and a more casual mode of dress.

So, if you were so busy admiring the photos that you forgot to think about the common theme, it is washable, here spelled out in washing powder. So that explains the washing machine in the leisure display, and the tub of cotton suds and tiny washboard.  I can’t imagine putting these shoes in a washing machine, as was implied, as a gentle hand wash is all I’d dare expose my Kedettes to!

Added 1941 ad:

19 Comments

Filed under Collecting, Curiosities, Shoes

Trail Cookery for Girl Scouts

 

This little cook booklet dates from 1945, and while it is not an official Girl Scout publication, the company that printed it made it specifically with the Girl Scouts in mind.  Look closely at the pictures to figure out who made the booklet.

Even without the date, I’d have put this in the 1940s due to the cute pleated shorts all the girls are wearing.

One girl just can’t resist those Boy Scouts on the opposite mountain.

The booklet does not actually tell you how to cook an egg with a magnifying glass, unfortunately.

There are even menus included which predominately feature the product of the publisher.  And guesses yet?

Yes, this booklet was developed by the Home Economics Department of the Kellogg Company of Battle Creek, Michigan.

Those baby bears simply cannot resist Rice Krispies!

 

7 Comments

Filed under Curiosities

Keds Hand-book for Girls, 1923

Sometimes I wonder how things like this little booklet survive.  Published in 1923, the girl who originally owned it would now be in her hundreds.  Was it put in a box, stored in an attic for people to find at an estate sale?  And why was such a trivial bit of paper not thrown out years ago?

I should be glad that many people have a tendency to save things.  If we all threw out everything that was not of use then a lot of our history would simply be lost.  Of course 91 years ago children did not have the massive amounts of things that children have today.  Even a little booklet, given free with the purchase of a pair of shoes, might be treasured.

The booklet is 48 pages of miscellaneous information, plus one page of advertising the sponsor’s goods.  The styles shown are interesting because of the variety of Keds available for girls.  I love the cross-strap Mary-Janes, and picture them in red canvas.  And the third pair down is identical to a style that was made for boys.  It’s good to know that they were also made for girls.

There is no rhyme or reason to the choice of entries in the booklet.  These pages have games alongside chores and recipes.

I had no idea that 161 “girls” died in World War I.

The tiny illustrations on the cover show girls doing activities from the booklet.  It looks like Keds are good for reading and cooking as well as for tennis and canoeing.

 

10 Comments

Filed under Shoes

Kodakery, for Amateur Picture Makers

So, how did companies get their message across back in the dark ages before the internet and social media?  Very often they spread the word through printed material in the form of catalogs and booklets containing useful information about the product.  The assumption was that if you gave customers a little booklet or some other thing (with the company name printed on it of course) they would be likely to save it and be reminded of the company.

It must have worked because any good flea market or antique mall has several vendors who have boxes of this old advertising material to rummage through.  And I’m the kind of person who will stand there for what seems like hours, sifting through old maps, recipe booklets, housecleaning hint booklets and hardware catalogs just to find one gem that makes my day.

Usually all it takes is a cover photo like this one on Kodakery, a booklet published by Eastman Kodak from 1913 through 1932, to attract my attention.  I’d never seen nor heard of this little publication, but there is a lot of information online, including several sites that have downloads of complete issues.  If interested, google Kodakery and you’ll see what I mean.

This particular issue had an article on how to take (or “make” as the booklet puts it) good vacation photos.

Click

There were also features on photographing children (with the offer of another booklet on the topic)  and nature studies.  But my favorite was a photo montage titled “About Dogs – And One Cat!  Companionship stories told by companionable Kodaks”

I’ve read that George Eastman realized early on that his products might better be marketed toward women than toward men.  He saw that it was women who were the keepers of scrapbooks and journals, and who would be interested in recording the history of their families.  That is why in so many of the early Kodak ads, it is a woman who is holding the camera, making the picture, recording the history.

Not that the men were neglected, but the copy of the ad does seem to appeal to “female sensibilities.”

KEEP YOUTH! Keep romance.  Keep all these precious, fleeting moments alive forever…

13 Comments

Filed under Collecting, Vintage Photographs

Between the Springmaid Sheets

The main reason I went to Columbia, SC to the South Carolina State Museum was to see an exhibition on a famous ad campaign of the late 1940s and early 1950s, and the clothes that the ads inspired.  I almost forgot about it, and I must thank April for reminding me.  I’ve written about this series of ads, conceived by the owner and president of Springs Mills, Colonel Elliott White Springs, so in order to best enjoy this post, I suggest you read it first.

Colonel Springs was a WWI flying ace and a real character.  It seems as though he didn’t really want to be in the textile business, but what can a man do when he inherits six or so mills?  In Springs’s case, he took over the mills, but in order to satisfy his creative urges he turned ad man as well.  His story is well documented in a book he wrote, Clothes Make the Man, which is a collection of his letters (some of them written to a fictional character, Joe Fisk) with some short stories and company history thrown in.  The book was sold through the ads; you sent him a dollar and he sent you a book.

The ads, which were first used in 1947, used sexual innuendo and double-entrendres along with paintings of girls showing their underwear.  At the time, they were terribly risque, but today would get not a second look.  The ads caused an avalanche of protest among other companies and the public.  There were days when Springs received over a thousand letters, mainly from women, complaining about the campaign.

Many of the letters were printed in the book, and the exhibition had lots of them scattered around to read.  It’s really interesting to read that women were actually complaining about ads that used a woman’s body to sell products.  Could it be that the 1950s housewife was really a feminist?

Colonel Springs operated on the idea that there was no such thing as bad publicity, and he was right.  The ads continued in various forms until he died in 1959.  The company was wildly successful, with the main weaving factory containing 8000 looms.

In 1948 Colonel Springs got the idea to make printed fabrics based on the girls in the ad campaign.  There were several different fabrics developed, and Springs had them made into all kinds of products.

Click

No photos were allowed in the exhibition, but I did stand outside and take a few shots of the clothes.   One thing that really impressed me was how the Springs family kept everything.  After reading about so many companies who threw all their historical records away, it was a treat to find one that seemed to have an idea of its cultural and historical importance.  All the items on display are from the Springs Close Family Archive.

All the pictures on the walls are the original artwork for the ads.  The second one, the girl with her skirt flying up, was the first ad in the campaign.

The first garment is a sports set of a crop top and a skirt and is made from the original print.  It still has the Cole of California tags attached.  The other two outfits, the little girl’s and the woman’s, are from a print called Persian.  The woman’s dress was by designer Carolyn Schurner.  Note the matching handbag.

This is a a view of Persian from the Spring 1951 issue of American Fabrics.

In the case in the background, you can see a cape.  I thought it was a ladies cape, but they had an ad in which Colonel Springs himself was wearing it.  In later years he assumed a fake persona, Martin McMartin St. Martin,  for some of the ads, and this is the cape he wore in the ads.  The shirt is from a print I’d never seen, and it looks like a Hawaiian shirt with sailboats and a bathing beauty, with the Springs name thrown in.

The plaid coat, which is lined in the Persian print, belonged to Colonel Springs.  His chair in his office was upholstered in the same plaid.  The other jacket is made from the Persian print.

This short video tells more about Colonel Springs and his famous campaign.

Today, we have come to accept the fact that sex sells.  The scandalous Springs ads seem quaint to us.  But there is another side to some of the ads, one that did not cause a bit of a stir at the time.  If you watched the video, you saw an ad featuring an Indian man in a hammock made from a sheet with a beautiful Indian stepping out of the hammock.  The caption reads, “A buck well spent on a Springmaid Sheet.”

The ad was criticized highly for its sexual overtones, but nowhere in the correspondence of Colonel Springs did anyone seem to notice that it was racist.  Today that ad could never be used, not because it insinuates the man and woman were having sex, but because it refers to the man as a buck.  Several years later there were other ads that referred to Black men as bucks as well.  We may have not made progress in the portrayal of women, but it is good to know progress is being made in matters of race.

Several years ago my mother-in-law, who would have been 89 at the time, recalled this ad, and how she and her sister-in-law were snickering at it.  Their mother-in-law wanted to know what was so funny, so they sheepishly showed her the ad.  She read it, and with a very confused look declared that there was nothing at all funny about Indians taking a nap.

16 Comments

Filed under Museums

Ad Campaign – Air Spun Make-up by Coty, 1945

Make much of the sun – or make light of it!

I bet the woman on the right in her very Claire McCardell playsuit lived to gloat about her decision not to tan.  She reminds me of my mother-in-law, who when she died at age 90, had the skin of a 50 year old.  She had never tanned; never burned.

I read not too long ago that for the first time since its inception in 1935, Coty was making a big change to the Air-spun box.  The original box was designed by Leon Bakst, one of the designers who worked his magic with the Ballets Russes in the 1910s and 1920s.  Made of embossed leather with real gold leaf, the box turned out to be too expensive, and so it was modified to be made from cardboard.

It remained that way for decades, but now the box is plastic, the charming dancing brushes limited to a ring around the brand name.  I’ve got to wonder why, when a product has instant graphic recognition, would one tamper with what is not broken.

5 Comments

Filed under Advertisements