Monday, March 31, 2014

Vintage Advertisements from the North Carolina Baptist Almanac

Many of the items we digitize for the Religion in North Carolina Project feature advertisements for various goods and services. These can be valuable not only for what they tell about local merchants and markets, but as insight into ordinary life for the consumers of these products. They also provide interesting contrasts with modern newspaper advertisements, demonstrating how marketing has evolved.
Consider the North Carolina Baptist Almanac. We have digitized several volumes of this serial, and aim to digitize more. The almanacs themselves have a wide variety of useful information, such as complete lists of ordained Baptist ministers in North Carolina for each year, brief descriptions of Baptist theology, lists of North Carolina government officials with their salaries and weather predictions. This post, however, will focus on the advertisements.

Consider the above 1900 advertisement for the Rock Hill Buggy Co., complete with a lengthy testimonial in which one of their buggies survived being flipped over and dragged for miles by a frightened horse. The advertisement also stresses the convenient price ("only a dollar or so more than the cheap ones"), as an argument against "taking the risk" of buying from one of their competitors.
Alternatively, consider this 1882 advertisement from the Upshur Guano Company, promoting their various lines of imported fertilizers. Stressing their size ("a large and extensive factory") and reputation ("very many testimonials from our agents and customers"), the Upshur Guano Company individually lists their various brands and the ingredients and sources involved. Those seeking additional information about the company (including a "Fac Simile [sic] of the medal and awards of the judges" from the four gold medals that their products recently won) were encouraged to write.
Finally, consider the above 1883 advertisement for Beckwith's Anti-Dyspeptic Pills, endorsed by the late Senator George E. Badger, among others. The manufacturers (using "the original receipt of Dr. John Beckwith") stress the long history of their product ("for sixty years and lost no reputation"), and rely heavily on testimonials. The advertisement includes no list of ingredients for this pill, which promises to be a"cure of dyspepsia and to prevent bilious attacks."

These are just some of the many 19th century products advertised in the North Carolina Baptist Almanac. This post barely scratches the surface of the variety of products and designs. To see more, visit the following links for the 1882-1897 and 1900 volumes, respectively. Or, look at some of the other items in our Newsletters, Newspapers and Serial Publications section.