The History of Advertising in Guelph's Newspapers 1847-1900
Author: B.M. Durtnall
Publication Date: 1998
FROM ITERATION TO PERSUASION
"Promise, large promise is the soul of an advertisement."
- Samuel J. Johnson, 1759.
"There was a time when I thought the only aim of a newspaper was to be bright and newsy from a literary point of view. I have not changed my mind but have broadened my view. Others, too, with the intolerance of the ignorant may have refused to accord to advertisements any literary merit."
- A.R. Girdwood, 1895.
The Arts are usually perceived as applying to music, literature, dance, and visual art. At its most refined, Art stands separate from popular art, which is connected with the masses and has such manifestations as punk rock, pop art, and hip-hop poets. Occasionally, usually over time, popular art becomes Art. Yet even this is arguably not the case with advertising. While some forms of ads may be considered 'classics,' and Andy Warhol's art might glorify them, advertisements are rarely embraced by the followers of Art.
Yet advertising is a form of expression that embraces many of the aspects of art: audio, visual, and literary efforts are combined to create a singular ad. Moreover, perhaps even more than Art, advertising reflects the social character and changes of the times. It provides glimpses into people's lives as it shows changing patterns in taste and preference, styles and products from apples to zithers, from foundation garments to patent medicine. In a direct manner, inclusive of various classes, advertisements reflect the move towards industrialism, commercialism, and consumerism.
Perhaps advertising is scorned because of its crass commercialism. Advertising does not exist for its own sake. It is a purposeful art. Nonetheless, as Samuel Johnson maintained1, it is a type of art, and as such becomes the focus of this essay. The time to be considered is the period from 1847 to 1900, and the media to be analyzed are the newspapers of Guelph.2 The focus is upon the history of advertising and its changes. The forces to be noted are the twin developments of industrialization and consumerism, the retail mentality, and the changes in newsprint technology. All combined to create the advertising world as we now know it. All conspired to move advertising from the simple and stark ads of 1847 to the overblown offerings of later years.
GUELPH NEWSPAPER ADS: 1847 TO 1860
According to H.E. Stephenson, an advertising historian, early Canadian advertising was simplistic in nature. He states that, "The language was bare and stilted."3 There was a lack of colour, little or no warmth and few superlatives; the ads used the principle of 'reason' to sell their product or services. This was certainly the case in Guelph newspaper ads for the early period or 1847 to 1860. Whether the service offered was in millinery or in the raw, ads were brief, to the point and reasonable. In the early ads, a merchant offered a necessary service to the customer, The customer could accept or reject this service on its own merits. The ads are not made to 'sell' the service or products but rather to remark upon their availability, and thus early ads provided only basic data. In fact, the term 'advertisement' was not in common usage until a later period. Initially the newspapers printed notices or announcements.
Figure 1: Guelph and Galt Advertiser, January 1, 1847.
The Misses Watts provide a case in point. On the front page of the Guelph and Galt Advertiser beneath the notices posted by three barristers their ad stated simply: "Misses Watt, Milliners and Straw Bonnet Makers, (Next to Mr. White's Store,) Windham Street, Guelph" (Figure 1).5 As Stephenson noted concerning ads of this period, it is brief, even stark, and its language is simple. It stated the services to be rendered, who is to render them, and their location. It was for the reader to decide whether or not to use the Misses Watts. Such an approach implies trust in the intelligence of the average reader something contained in ads up to the dying decade of the nineteenth century.
Another characteristic of the ads from this period is the insistence upon correct grammar and punctuation. Periods, commas, and semi-colons were used, and used correctly (Figure 2). While Stephenson might refer to such style as stilted, I believe a more precise term would be 'civilized' or 'appropriate.' These were formal announcements or notices that blended frequently with other news in the paper. Nobody's sensibilities would have been offended by such advertisements.
Figure 2: Guelph and Galt Advertiser, October 1st, 1847.
Such a civilized approach was common to the Guelph and Galt Advertiser ads of the 1840s and 1850s. From a simple announcement made by J. Mimmack in October 1847 to the more elaborate pronouncement by the Guelph Foundry in July 1850, the style reflects a belief in the grammatical awareness and intelligence of the readers. Moreover, the language remains unadulterated by superfluities. There is little use of adjectives to make the products offered seem larger, better, or new and improved. And there is a distinct lack of what we now perceive as brand names. Due to the technology of the times, pictures are found in very few ads. Only a small number are illustrated with woodcuts, and the same woodcuts of horse, cows, and people were used by newspapers across the land.6 The expense of printing such devices was in part responsible for the restriction of all but the most basic illustrations.
Some of these restrictions are the result of the technology of the day. Canada had not yet become industrialized, and the forces of industrialization and consumerism had yet to unite to create what we perceive as the modern Canadian shopper. Until the 1860s, Guelph's industries were of a purely practical and local nature. Not until the arrival of such manufacturers as McCrae & Co. Woollen Mills (1860), Raymond's Sewing Machine Factory, Parker's Carriage Works, Thain's and Gowdy's Agricultural Implement Manufacturers (1862), Bell Piano and Organ Company (1864), and McLeod's, Wood & Co. (1820), did Guelph advance into an industrial base. Moreover, the products produced by the early mills, foundries, and breweries had a distinctly local market appeal.
In the earliest period, most products met the core requirements necessary for survival in a 'pioneer' community. Merchants and early craft producers provided essentials for the immediate area. The merchandise available to Guelphites was limited by production technology and by the lack of easy access to external suppliers. The condition of roads, the cost of shipping goods, and the lack of a railroad until 1856 made the relationship between customers and retailers a simple one. The lack of cash and the reliance upon barter for currency did not encourage the kinds of consumerism present today.
In this period, Canadian advertising was still in its infancy and newspapers were not yet viewing it as a major source of revenue. Advertising was a service controlled by the newspaper who printed the ads, and the business people who offered their services. These owner-managers could choose to work closely with job printers to create the message they wanted. The Guelph and Galt Advertiser in 1847 and the Guelph Advertiser in the 1850s specifically stated that they would continue any ad, "until forbid." Instructions would have to be supplied, "In writing," and must be given the day prior to publication (Figure 3).
Figure 3: Guelph Weekly Advertiser, November 29, 1855.
Manufacturers exercised no say in the promotion of their products until the last decades of the century. In part this may be related to the quality of the manufactured goods. The lack of quality standards made manufacturers reluctant to take credit for their specific product. As a result, it was up to retailers to sell the goods using the media or methods with which they felt comfortable. Products were always mentioned under the auspices of a particular merchant and, with rare exceptions, they were referred to in general terms, not with identifiable names. In some cases, e.g. blacksmithy, the retailer was the manufacturer, simplifying the interests involved; for imported materials, it was the country of origin, the quality or even the mere availability of the material that mattered, not who made it.
Yet some ads were more flamboyant than others. Over the early period, certain groups can be perceived as trend-setters. Hoteliers provided more elaborate copy. The British Hotel topped its announcement with the British coat of arms. In January 1847, it claimed to have a "Cellar unequalled," and a "Larder well-supplied." The ad boasted in capital letters, "EXCELLENT STABLING," and noted with small asterisks that "Horses and carriages ready at a moment's notice" (Figure 4). The same type of approach was also utilized by other hotels, for example, the North American Hotel run by Richard Ratcliffe in 1842. After bringing to the public's attention that he had newly renovated the hotel, he stated that he offered, "Good Beds, Good Larder, Good Cellar, and Good Stabling." This approach was to disappear in the 1860s.
Figure 4: Guelph and Galt Advertiser, Jan. 1, 1847.
Figure 5: Guelph and Galt Advertiser, Oct. 1, 1847.
Nevertheless, while hotel ads were more grandiose than others for the same period, the implication always remained that the wise consumer would make the right choice. Advertisers drew attention to their services in what today seems a most understated manner. The use of small hands pointing to the ad, asterisks, various styles of type, and, in a few cases, simple wood cut illustrations called attention to the products and services (Figure 5), but these were visuals with a limited impact. The main message was carried out through simple language and appeals were based on the assumed intelligence of the consumer. Another technique used to gain attention was iteration or repetition, as the same phrase or word would be repeated (iterated) over and over throughout an ad.8 Advertisers sometimes listed their products following specific numbers, thus drawing attention to the ad and emphasizing the quantity of the product available (Figure 6). At other times a date displayed across the top accomplished the same purpose. These advertising practices were common throughout the period and continued to be used into the 1900s.
Figure 6: Guelph and Galt Advertiser, January 1, 1847.
As noted previously, there were no concept of brand names; in general, retailers listed their products by type. For example, on January 1, 1847, D. Benedict listed that his store offered, "Crockery, hardware, and a general assortment of provisions, dye goods, dye stuffs, etc." The same method of listing goods was utilized by blacksmiths and grocers, bootmakers and foundry operators. The only exceptions in the 1840s and 1850s appear to have been with such major items as agricultural equipment and stoves. In October 1847, Sunley provided specific names of the stoves he offered for sale. They included the Excelsior Air-Tight Cooking Stove and Van Norman's celebrated Cooking Stove (Figure 7). Similarly, John Ross and his foundry stated they had 'Harris' patent wooden revolving rake,' and the Wellington foundry said they had the 'Tyler Water Wheels.' By the end of the century, this list would expand to include such diverse items as pianos and chocolate.
The advertisements in Guelph were similar in style to others of the time. The Mikas, in their compilation of early Canadian advertisements, and Stephenson in his study of advertising, provide examples of ads identical in tone, quality, and style to those found in Guelph newspapers during this period. These advertisements of the early 1800s frequently did not change for long periods of time.9 For example, the Misses Watts' notice ran for several years with hardly any change. Others, such as dry goods and groceries, altered more regularly, as ads changed in conjunction with the seasons, as retailers obtained new goods needed by their customers (Figure 8).
Figure 7 & 8: (L-R) Guelph and Galt Advertiser, Oct. 1, 1847, and Nov. 10, 1846.
As with every rule, however, there is an exception. Throughout the entire period from 1847 to 1900, patent medicine ads formed the one major exception to all advertising rules. In Canada as in the United States, the patent medicine manufacturers were the first really large-scale advertisers.10 In comparison with other products of the times, patent medicines provided the readers with extravagant claims, vibrant copy and more decoration. One early journalist referred to such display as attempts to catch the readers attention, "By magnificence of promise and by eloquence sometimes sublime and sometimes pathetic."11 Woodcuts and line drawings were used to illustrate these ads. Their claims were as grandiose as many of those made for today's body products. In 1854, Dr. Rogers' Syrup stated that it, "Is offered for the COMPLETE CURE of those diseases of the THROAT and LUNGS, which, if neglected, usually terminate fatally in CONSUMPTION ... It is approved of and recommended by Physicians of the highest standing and may be given with perfect safety to the youngest child or the most delicate female" (Figure 9). In spite of this blatant, bombastic approach, such copy might run for years without change.
Figure 9: Guelph Advertiser, Jan. 5, 1854.
Until the 1890s, however this type of advertising was not common. There were no monolithic manufacturers behind regular products, no Canadian advertising agencies to create their vision of advertising art or to give wide distribution. Retailers provided their own copy and relied upon the newspapers to produce clear and effective ads. While in some countries, newspapers placed sharp restrictions on ad size and typeface used, Guelph newspapers do not seem to have imposed specific prohibitions.12 Ad size could vary, with the ads of retail dry good stores, hotels, and patent medicines frequently occupying two column widths. During the next period, ads were to expand and content to change as advertising slowly became more of a commercial art.
Between 1860 and 1890, there were changes in the community of Guelph that came to be reflected in the advertisements of both the Guelph Mercury and the Guelph Herald. The entry of Guelph into the process of industrialization created various goods that had not been readily available in the past. The population Guelph rose from 2,879 in 1851 to 6,878 by 1871, and in the 1860s, the city welcomed several manufacturers who were to extend their business beyond local boundaries to become nationally and internationally known. They made products that were to become identified with Guelph as well as with the manufacturer. Their ads published in the local papers reflected this change.
No longer did patent medicine represent the only recognizable brand names. From 1860 to 1890, early brand name products and non-local goods and services found their way into the Guelph advertisements. Guelph newspapers were soon to provide its readers a taste of the world that extended beyond the pages of news and politics and sports. Other technical changes occurred and became reflected in the quality and style of the ads as the cost of illustrations decreased.
Perhaps the most basic change was the entry into advertisements of prices. From 1860 to 1890, the cost of articles and materials became incorporated into the copy. The nascent department stores led the way. In January 1860, George Elliot's listing of the goods at his groceries and dry goods store included the prices of several items, as well as amounts available for sale. This departure continued to appear from time to time throughout the 1860s. In 1864, for example, Stewart and Thomson's advertised a, "GREAT CLEARING SALE!" of "Fall and Winter Fancy Stock," listing both regular and sale prices (Figure 10). By the 1870s, D. Martin's, the Guelph Tea Depot, the Co-operative Store, Chance & Williams, The Golden Lion, and J.D. Williamson & Co. all provided prices for their goods. As can be observed from the above list, it was the dry goods stores and grocery stores that led the way in this innovative method of advertising. Others such as clothing retailers and departmentals were to follow in the 1870s and later.
Figure 10: Guelph Mercury, January 8, 1864.
What was happening in advertisements reflected the change in Guelph's economy. Barter was still used, but money was becoming a part of everyday commercial changes. This was the result of the arrival of industries that hired workers and paid them in cash. In the mid-1860s, Guelph could lay claim to several 'true' industries such as Bell Piano & Organ, Raymond's Sewing Machine Factory, and McLeod's, Wood & Co. This increased the amount of available money within the community. The growth of several of these concerns to become nationally and internationally known industries insured the well-being of their chosen community. The goods they offered also reflected a change away from a rural to an urban focus within the community. While the juxtaposition of rural and urban goods and services within the newspapers continued over the rest of the century, the focus shifted more and more to the urban sector. Thus, consumers were regularly offered various non-essential items that industry was producing in Guelph and elsewhere.
The addition of pricing in print opened the way for competition. Between 1860 and 1890, newspaper advertising increased as stores competed for the Guelph and area market. The pages of the local papers expanded from four to six pages on Friday and/or Saturday, with an increasing number of products being advertised. Moreover, papers such as the Guelph Herald began to classify their sections within the paper. By the 1870s, there were columns for notices and announcements and ones for 'Business Cards.' Within these sections there were subdivisions according to services offered. There was also some attempt made to group the ads into categories. For instance, in February 1878, on page two the main advertisements were for the larger clothing and dry goods stores. On January 10, 1881, page two of the Guelph Herald had four columns of advertisements. Columns one and four consisted of patent drug claims while column three focused on the extra services the Guelph Herald offered its customers. The central row - number two - consisted of a two-column width spread of three advertisements: The Lion, Buchman's, and Cormack & Keleher's. All three retailers were involved in the same type of business. This refinement of ad placement helped both advertisers and consumers in the quest for what each of them wanted.
With more advertisements, there was an increased need to attract attention.13 This was reflected in not only the number of advertisements and the inclusion of prices, but in other ways as well. It is not merely the addition of prices to the arsenal of advertising tools that distinguishes such ads: it is also the style. The language used is different from that of the 1840s and 1850s. There is a more modern sound to the 'patter' of the new ads.
By the 1870s, a new concept seemed to have become an integral part of retail advertising in Guelph. It is frequently said the departmentals were the first businesses to focus upon special sales. In Guelph, however, specialty stores seemed to have initiated the practice; of course, this judgment depends upon the definition used for department store. Nevertheless, Guelph appears to have adopted quickly the concept of sales that had previously, been restricted to certain seasonal periods. In part, this is the result of the construction of improved transportation systems, as well as increased availability of diverse products. Between 1860 and 1880 there were sales for stocktaking, clearance, Christmas, all the seasons, and even for such days as Ash Wednesday and Valentine's Day (Figure 11).
Figure 11: Guelph and Galt Advertiser, March 5, 1872.
By the closing years of the 1880s, department stores such as the Lion were holding sales on specific days. In 1885 the Lion declared a June sale. This was a departure: a month and not a season was marked off. A similar event was held by Shaw & Murton in 1877. Their Guelph Cloth Hall was offering a, "GREAT CLEARING SALE DURING THE MONTH OF JANUARY." The emphasis had shifted from seasonal specificity based on the yearly changes, product availability and travel patterns, to a more modern concept based on regular sales events that could happen because of stock surplus, a change in the weather, or the need to create consumer interest in a product.
Matching this change in advertiser philosophy was a gradual change in tone and style. Initially the ads still cluttered the page, and sometimes the clutter was increased by more frequent inclusion of woodcuts and line drawings. Yet even in this, there is a noticeable difference from preceding eras. For example, the ads for The Lion in the late 1880s began to change their symbol (the Lion) in shape and form until the lion finally disappeared altogether in the 1890s. There was still the use of iteration. Yet display type became more common as typesetters hunted innovative ways to display the advertisers, words, and products. Ads were set apart with borders of various types. Words and/or ads were placed at angles, around the frame, or on their sides. G.B. Fraser's ad, for example, is one column wide but stretches lengthwise to be read on its side (Figure 12). The tone became more relaxed. Customers were addressed directly as advertisers heralded the benefits and wonders of their commodities. Campbell's Shoe House (Sign of the Elephant) told readers that, "LOW PRICES AND GOOD HONEST GOODS ARE SURE TO BRING SUCCESS." In 1885, J.D. Williamson proclaimed, "THE BOTTOM KNOCKED OUT! ... DAMAGED GOODS ... MUST BE SOLD WITHIN TEN DAYS." Such phrases now common to advertising became a part of the repertoire of the medium in the late 1860s, and more common by the end of the 1880s. Merchants described themselves and their goods as 'square dealing,' 'honest,' 'reliable,' 'fashionable,' and 'Largest, Newest and Cheapest,' all phrases now commonly exploited.
Advertisers changed their copy more frequently. In the 1860s, the repetition of ads deprived them of effectiveness. In the late 1870s, such continuation was decreasing as variations upon the basic ad - particularly those of department-type and specialty stores - began to appear regularly. Furthermore, ad size expanded to break the trio column barrier. In 1872 David Martin's store ran a five-column ad. Later ads occupied as much as an entire page.
Figure 12: Guelph Mercury, January 6, 1872.
Unlike these new ads which could still not rival the patent medicines for hyperbole, patent medicines repeated the same copy, as these products continued to be advertised regularly. They provided the same message as they had in the previous decades. They still claimed to be 'cure-alls' for an entire host of ills including melancholy, gout, blindness, vapours, fevers, and 'women's problems.' Holloway's Pills, Bristol's Sarsaparilla, and Vegetine were still flogged, with such electric devices as The Electric Belt Institute, an addition to the repertoire. These ads remained an important part of the advertising of a local newspaper until legislation changed the rules and limited their market potential.
Yet patent medicine ads were no longer the only patent or name products making their way into print. This period saw the rise of specific name brand goods - ones who advertises without the benefit of a retailer.14 The manufacturer was the direct source of the ad. Some of these manufacturers were local companies, while others were located in another province or country.
The name brands appearing in the Guelph newspaper ads over this period can be divided into two basic types: advertisements of small 'goods' such as canned food and packaged material, and larger products such as bicycles and pianos. Between 1860 and 1900, the increase in these offerings was reflected in the newspaper ads. In 1872, Lea & Perrin's, a pioneer in Canadian advertising, advertised their, "Celebrated Worcestershire Sauce." In 1879 their advertisement specifically noted that, "Their signature," now appeared upon each bottle to distinguish it from its competition. By 1855 Epp's Cocoa (another food product in the vanguard of advertising), and Dunn's Baking powder had laid their claim to a specific market. Epp's Cocoa was declared to be, "Grateful - comforting," while Dunn's was, "The Cook's Best Friend." This is the beginning of advertising 'slogans.' Liebig's "Extract of Meat" - the forerunner of Oxo - appeared by 1879. There were also Palmo-Tar Soap, Myrtle Navy Tobacco, Smoker's Gold Flake Plug and Peerless Brand Cigars. Each advertisement was accompanied by a small saying. Myrtle Navy stated that each was stamped with the letters "T & B: "No other is Genuine." In the case of baking soda, 'pure' was the most common description, with 'Princess' and 'Royal' both claiming that they were, "Absolutely Pure," and Imperial Baking Powder stated that it was, "Purest, Strongest, Best" (Figure 13).15
Another significant thing about these ads in the non-involvement of the retailer in their presentation. The advertisements were prepared elsewhere by the manufacturer and his agency and sent out to the local papers. This is a definite departure from the previous standards of procedure.
Figure 13: Guelph Herald, February 11, 1892.
Ads for large ticket items also began to appear more frequently. Some are products of local manufacturers such as Bell and Wilkie and Osborne; other are from places as far away as Toronto and Montreal. The Guelph Sewing Machine Company boasted in 1876 that the Osborne A. was the, "Most perfect Sewing Machine ever offered the Public," while as early as 1867, the Victoria Sewing Machine Company of Toronto had claimed that theirs was, "The Greatest Invention of the age." The carpets of Petley & Petley of Toronto were selling at, "Lower Prices than any house in the trade." They qualified their ad with a boxed-in statement beginning with the words, "We find on inspection that..." In true advertising fashion, however, the reader was never to find out the identity of this, "We."
The advent of the period of persuasion had begun. Advertisements the mid-1860s onwards began to rely less on iteration, repetition, and the consumer's intelligence, and more on the power of persuasion. Superlatives now extended beyond price to include the product. A piano, a sewing machine, baking powder - each became the very best of its kind to be ever offered. Slogans were created to encourage brand name recognition, and rather became fused with the product itself. Packaging became important, both figuratively and literally. These concepts resulted in an approach to advertising that became more and more evident from 1860 to 1890.
Also, in evidence as part of this new consumer-and-product-driven movement was an appeal to gender.16 Although it became more evident in the 1890s, it is appeared to some extent in the late 1870s and throughout the 1880s. On February 20, 1878, Jones and Guthrie addressed the fair sex in their ad stating, "Ladies in want of extra quality cotton..." In 1883 Soden's Hair Store topped their ads with the word, "Ladies!" while the aforementioned Petley & Petley addressed, "Housekeepers." This, too, became solidified in advertising approaches in the 1890s as Canadian advertising was set to embark upon what has become known as, "The Golden Age of Advertising."
THE GOLDEN (OR BRAZEN) AGE OF ADVERTISING: 1890-1900
The period from 1890 to 1900 is marked by an increase in the earlier devices and tactics utilized by advertisers in an attempt to gain recognition for their film and/or product. As the Canadian economy quickened and expanded to embrace the philosophy of consumerism, the appearance and content of advertisements within the local paper altered. While some approaches remained similar, others differed greatly in tone and style. Sometimes it was simply a matter of reducing the written copy to catch phrases. The 'clutter' vanished, and the 'idea' or 'message' of the ad became clear. Compare the simple approach by W. McLaren & Co. in 1982, with its clean lines and pithy sales pitch (Figure 14), to the more detailed and explanatory ad of the Rutherford House printed in 1860 (Figure 15).
Figure 14 and Figure 15: Guelph Mercury, Oct. 5, 1892, and Guelph Advertiser, January 20, 1860.
In the 1890s the amount of brand name merchandise advertised by manufacturers and even retailers increased dramatically. Everything from hair and clothing dye to chocolates was advertised within the papers which were now published daily. This is most evident in the Guelph Herald which seems to have obtained more of this type of advertisement than did the Guelph Mercury. Perhaps this was the result of close ties with the Canadian Advertising Firm of A. McKim & Co. formed in 1889;17 or perhaps it had more to do with the Herald's advertising philosophy. In 1895 Annie R. Girdwood wrote of the Herald's advertising department: "The advertising department may at times quarrel for space with the news department, but alas for a paper whose advertising department is not extensive and interesting. Skilfully written advertisements are news in the broadest and most practical sense of the word, and moreover attractive advertising is the result of no small amount of intellect."18
The name brand ads multiplied in the 1890s. There were Encore Dyes from Montreal, Gillett's Powdered Lye, and Sherwin William Paints. There were Martin's Cardinal Food for Babies, Pabst Malt Extract to help nursing mothers, and Old Gold Cigarettes, Sweet Caporal Cigarettes and Toscana cigars for men. People were asked to drink Epp's Cocoa, Lipton's Tea, and Kurma Ceylon Tea. There were French corsettes [sic], Granby rubbers, three-bladed pocket-knives from Baltimore, Maryland, and steel bobsleds. The selection of goods had increased and so too had the means of bringing them to the consumer's attention. This involved attempts to create slogans and to draw upon a particular audience. It also meant that it was the product that came first in the ad, and not the merchant.
In the process of product identification, slogans abound most among the manufactured and brand name products. "GB Chocolates," available at Marble Drug Store, were identified by the letters G and B (Representing the Ganong Brothers of New Brunswick). The presence of these letters was a positive guarantee that, "They are very pure." "Tutti Frutti Gum," available in stick form, attempted to lay claim to a wider consumer base. The ads varied almost daily, claiming that the gum stimulated your appetite, was good for you, and, "Allays thirst and prevents fatigue." One includes a 'testament' from The Health Commissioner of New York - Dr. Cyrus Edison. He vouched for, "The great efficacy of Adam's Pepsin Tutti Frutti in cases of indigestion." The people depicted in these gum ads were young active couples. One showed a male and female bicycling. It is the beginning of attempts to create and sell an image, as well as to identify a target market.
All types of soap were now available for consumers to choose from. Sunlight Soap, manufactured by Lever Brothers, first made its debut in the United States in the late 1880s. By 1891 it was appearing in Canadian newspapers and periodicals.19 The McKim Agency handled the placing of its ads in such newspapers as the Guelph Herald. Designed in Toronto, one slogan ran: "If you use Sunlight, you're right." Several other ads asked users to save the wrappers and send them in for various prizes. Meanwhile Sunlight's major Canadian rival, Surprise Soap, also ran ads across Canada. Owned by the Ganong family and operating out of New Brunswick, it, too, found space in Canadian papers through the auspices of the McKim Agency. Surprise Soap was, "A Handy Thing," since one half of a cake, "just fits the hand." It made the claim to be, "WHITE AS SNOW." This slogan appeared besides the depiction of a child in a white nightgown. Baby's Own Soap, a product of the Montreal based Albert Soap Company, made its own pitch in the Guelph markets for the business of local mothers. They were informed that "Your Baby's Skin needs BABY'S OWN SOAP," "Since None Better for Delicate Skin."
In the realm of clothing and footwear Granby rubbers should be noted. Their claim that, "They Wear Like Iron," was but one means of advertising. The heels of each bore the name, "Granby," moulded into the rubber. After a snowfall or on a muddy day the name would appear throughout the streets and walkways, providing further advertising of the product.
These are early illustrations of stereotyping. While patent ads had long relied upon male or female attributes as selling points, in general advertisements were not so specific. Only after the mid-1860s did ads begin to pitch to a certain type or stereotype of person. In the later part of the century, gender appeals became more frequent, and were made to either sex. J.R. Jackson & Co. cried, "LADIES If You want the Best WRINGER made, get the LIGHTNING"(Figure 16). The Montreal Silk Mills, Ltd. of Montreal declared in an 1894 ad that, "EVERY LADY WHO wants UNDERWEAR... buys the "HEALTH BRAND," for herself or her children. Nor were men ignored in such appeals. G.B. Ryan & Co. addressed an ad to the, "GENTLEMEN," of the community, but they also published one which began, "A WISE WOMAN WILL ATTEND..." Still other ads appealed to both genders, addressing first one and then the other in an attempt to sell their wares and services.
Figure 16: Guelph Mercury, June 3, 1896.
This gender appeal is also reflected in the specific products stressed in the newspaper ads. Department stores in particular expressly advertised sales of various items within their departments. In 1890 J.D. Williamson & Co. stated: "We Draw Particular Attention To Silks This Week," while the Red Flag emphasised their men's underclothing, and Dowler's pushed their dress materials. G.B. Ryan called upon women to attend the sale of, "Ladies, Print Wrapper and Blouse[s]."
By this time, sales were a common part of the advertising medium. There were holiday ads that are not content to emphasize the availability and wide variety of products at Christmas. Instead, retailers took a blatantly commercial approach to the once religious holiday. This is most evident in the sudden appearance of, "Santa Claus," in the ads. The Golden Lion, now run by D.E. Macdonald & Bro., described their department store in 1897 as, "SANTA CLAUS' Headquarters for Guelph," and Pringles topped its ad with a depiction of Santa Claus about to go down the chimney. There were also more weekend sales and special sales. A. Chatfield had a simple, "Summer Sale," in 1896, while in 1897 J.A. McCrea offered a Wednesday sale, George Williams Saturday sales, and G.B. Ryan in 1892 claimed to have, "Special Bargains for this week" (Figure 17). There were also back to school sales and all types of, "GREAT - CLEARING - SALES." Gimmicks were being called upon with regularity to move items. In 1898, for example, The Golden Lion advertised, "A Grand Display of New Blouses and Shirts." It ran for two days only in May and customers were urged to, "Come to this Grand Exhibition. You'll profit by it."
Figure 17: Guelph Mercury, June 29, 1897.
The technology now available helped the advances in print. By 1897 the ads are clearer, crisper, and more varied in appearance without excessive clutter. The Guelph Herald, in particular, provided a wide variety in possibilities in type and appearance. In a December 9, 1896, ad by J.D. Williamson titled, "Christmas Anticipation," small figures of boys were used to enhance the sale of boys clothing. The figures do not top the ad but are included within the text and placed beside the appropriate items. Many name brand ads demonstrate the use of these new techniques. One of the more creative was that of Imperial Baking Powder. On February 6, 1892, the Guelph Herald ran a small ad for the product which featured an imp dancing around the can. The words, "IMP," were capitalized and the rest of the letters spelling out, "Imperial," were made small. A Sunlight ad published in October 1893 entombed the phrase, "If you use Sunlight, you're right" within a circle. The top and bottom spheres housed the first and last words, while the product's name was placed in the middle. Advertising agencies and newspaper technology had combined to create artistic advertisements. These were a combination of catchy phrases and appealing designs - whether the result of illustrations or type set.
The advertisements of the 1890s changed with a more regular frequency than had before been evident. The department stores, of course, led the way in changing the course of advertising. They provided the most elaborate and yet simple advertisements for the period. White space was no longer frowned upon and boasts of having the best or the highest quality or the purest products were common. Lillie & Hadden claimed that their coffee, "Can't be beat," while the Scroggie Bros. stated that they can give you tea, "That you cannot match in the city." The manufacturers of Shakespeare cigars underlined their claim that this was, "The Finest 5 cent cigar EVER OFFERED TO THE PUBLIC." Still other goods were sold by, "Leading," or, "First-class," retailers of various types. The superlative, the hyperbole, the claim to be the best was now commonplace.
As noted previously, it was the product and not the merchant that now held centre stage. Prior to this, as noted by Stephenson, it was the merchant that demanded first place in the advertisements of the time. This began to alter in the late 1870s, but in Guelph the new emphasis only gained overall acceptance in the 1890s. The name of the merchant was now frequently in much smaller type face than that of the products. Retailers now boasted of carrying a specific name brand. A small ad by J.M. Bond & Co.'s hardware store in June 1897 stressed that, "Of course we think the Sherwin-Williams Ready-to-use Paint is good Paint - as good as can be made - else we would not say 'your money back if not satisfactory."'
The ad for Bond was not simply a statement for Sherwin-Williams. It was also not only a linkage between a company's product and a retailer. It was an example of the 'new' means of selling a product and a store. Bond's promised their customers, "Satisfaction." Not only is this evidence of the new economy based upon money, but also a change in policy. This mirrors what had happened in Toronto among larger concerns where Eaton's had made famous this very approach. In fact, much of the history of advertising in Guelph newspapers is a mirror of the history of advertising in other newspapers in both larger and smaller communities. Samples from other media of the time illustrate that the differences were as slight then as they are now. The pace of change and the variety of products offered are bound to differ from community to community. The amount of national or even international advertising material appearing may also be different. This was the case even within Guelph. The Guelph Herald seemed to be more open to the invasion of 'foreign' products. The Guelph Mercury, on the other hand was more restricted in its advertising scope.2O
Advertising had become a major source of income to newspapers by the century's end. It had also become a major expenditure for companies and retailers. Royal Baking Powder, for example, which had become advertising in Canadian newspapers in the 1880s , by 1893 was spending $500,000 on advertising its product. Industrialization within the country created a new urban culture. This - the culture of consumption - in turn helped to create what has become an integral part of our modern day civilization: advertising.
*For record of notes see original text.