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Libbys Foods – Various Print & Outdoor Ads

Libbys Melrose Pate – Cosmopolitan Magazine – May 1904

The company was founded as Libby, McNeill & Libby in Chicago, Illinois, by Archibald McNeill and the brothers Arthur and Charles Libby. The business began with a canned meat product, beef in brine, or corned beef. It became well-known when it began to package the meat in a trapezoid-shaped can starting in 1875. – Wikipedia

© Wikipedia Commons

Libby’s Melrose Paté – Ebay

Duke University Digital Libraries

Non-fatting Libby’s – Quenches between meal hunger – Duke University – Street Scene cropped

Sunset Magazine – April 1904 – Vol. XII

Duke University Digital Libraries

Duke University Digital Libraries

Duke University Digital Libraries

How to Make Good Things to Eat- Gesine (Knubel) Lemcke – Libby, McNeill & Libby – CLICK FOR LINK

Mmm mmm good! Oops! Wrong slogan – Libby’s Magazine – How to Make Good Things to Eat

Pears’ Soap – Cosmopolitan Magazine – May 1904

Cosmopolitan Magazine – May 1904 Vol. I

Armour’s Extract of Beef – Tomato Bouillon – The Cosmopolitan Magazine – May 1904

May 1904 Volume I

“Fresh Up” with 7-up – The All Family Drink – Richmond, VA – January 2009

On E. Main Street and 22nd in Shockoe Bottom; Richmond, Virginia © Frank H. Jump

circa 1950

9×12”. Great 1950s era sign with family in living room watching Kukla Fran and Ollie on a bw TV. Each is enjoying a bottle of 7-Up. Text at bottom right reads “Buy A Case Today!” – Hakes Collectibles

Close-up of 7-up

Collectible – eBay

Saturday Evening Post 1950


At Your Fingertips – McCall Patterns – McCall’s Magazine

McCall Magazine – Circa 1911 – CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE

Estelle Mershon – Vogue Magazine, NY Times, The Constitution – 1913 –1917

Vogue Magazine, Estelle Mershon ad, 1917

Courtesy of Old Fulton NY Postcards- Tom Tryniski

The Constitution, Atlanta GA

Vintage Italian Sparkling Water, Gelatin & Bouillon Print Ads – circa 1955

Looks like powdered carbonation © Vincenzo Aiosa

© Vincenzo Aiosa

© Vincenzo Aiosa

Pancake Days is Happy Days – Aunt Jemima

circa 1938 - clipping bought in a junk store near Junction City OR

circa 1938 – clipping bought in a junk store near Junction City OR

Whoever wrote this copy should have been boiled in corn syrup.

courtesy of Wikipedia

courtesy of Wikipedia

Courtesy of Slate dot com – click for slideshow

From Uncle Bens to Aunt Jemima: The History of Racist Spokespersons in Media
Uncle Ben, CEO? The strange history of racist spokescharacters. By David Segal

Today, no company would be dumb enough to build a brand around a black servant, but the ones now in supermarkets have been grandfathered in, rendered innocuous by the passage of time, image overhauls, and judicious wardrobe adjustments. But it’s worth remembering what these spokescharacters truly are: a final, living vestige of Jim Crow America. – David Segal

Here are a couple of clips of the history of racist spokescharacters.

Aunt Jemima

“Aunt Jemima”

Such virulence didn’t last for long in the realm of commerce, but the image of the servile African-American soon became a popular motif in American marketing, one that’s proved remarkably enduring. You’re looking at the most successful example of them all. Aunt Jemima was dreamed up in 1889 by a white businessman who was inspired by a character at a minstrel show. Looking for a way to sell a self-rising pancake mix, Chris L. Rutt conceived a jolly ex-slave who lived on a Louisiana plantation and made legendary flapjacks in the days “befo’ de wah.” Eventually, she’d be boycotted by the NAACP, attacked by Langston Hughes, and belittled by Public Enemy. But this quintessential “mammy”—a black woman who lives to nurture, clean, and cook for whites—was a marketing phenomenon from the start, mythologized in ads painted by N.C. Wyeth and impersonated by actors who toured around the country. One had a permanent residency at “Aunt Jemima’s Pancake House” in Disneyland.

The Tom

The “Tom”

Aunt Jemima’s male counterpart was the Tom, a simple, cheerful, and ambition-free butler and cook. In the South, the mammy and the Tom reflected a nostalgia for the days of slavery and served as an implicit argument for segregation: If it’s so bad, why are these people so happy, huh? In the North, these characters were presented as the epitome of hospitality and were designed to make potential buyers feel pampered and privileged. It was a sales pitch that advertisers apparently couldn’t resist. One study of national magazines in the ’20s—the beginning of the Tom’s heyday—found that fully half of all ads that featured a black man depicted him as a servant. Like Ben, many were given the honorific “Uncle,” a word favored by Southerners who wanted to express respect in a society where calling a black man “Mister” was out of the question.

To view the entire slideshow, click here  (SLIDESHOW HAS SINCE BEEN TAKEN DOWN)

What do you think? Will you purchase Uncle Ben’s (now Chairman Ben) rice or Aunt Jemima syrup knowing this? If so, why?

Note: On April 30, a former Pepsi ad man who broke color barriers with one of the first corporate marketing campaigns to portray African Americans in a positive light died. Edward Boyd was 92 at his death and was one of the first black executives at a major US corporation. Thank you, Edward F. Boyd!