Monday, February 20, 2012

Victorian Era - the Birthplace of Modern Advertising

    By Karen V. Wasylowski



    A beautiful painting done for advertising Schweppes, early 1900s.

    I have become inordinately fond of Victorian Advertising; the colors, the artwork, the images are so lovely that they often make you blink your eyes in wonder. The fact is that Advertising Agencies were a Victorian innovation, created in a time of rapidly expanding brand names, marketing and promotional techniques.

    The promotional posters I favor feature a typical Victorian wife and mother, and what her life was like, what her worries were (or perhaps, like modern times, it was what advertisers believed her worries should be, in order to best sell their products)  However, the loveliest ads feature the children of the era.  I don't think I've ever seen a modern ad that could touch this type of innocent beauty.

     I love these three, however what they are up to is anyone's guess.

    Of course, Victorian advertising did not only feature sweet children, pets and mama.  The activities of the industry reflected the Victorian passion for outlandish stunts and would make the basis of a fascinating TV drama series along the lines of Mad Men.  Consider the Monkey Brand and Brooke's soap.

    This poor fellow is subjected to all sorts of indignities for the sake of sales, from leaping over bars of his soap to dressing up in costume, circus performing, being adopted by John Bull, or sadly skinned and used by a child as a substitute horse.  The advertising message on the first picture is priceless:

    "We're a Capital Couple, the Moon and I,
    I Polish the Earth, She Brightens the Sky,
    And we Both Declare, as Half the World Knows,
    Though a Capital Couple, WE WON'T WASH CLOTHES!"

    Karen V. Wasylowski is the author of the Pride and Prejudice sequel, "Darcy and Fitzwilliam" a continuing tale of the friendship between Mr. Darcy of Pemberley and his charismatic older cousin, Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam - the Regency Era's "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid."

    Check out my blog, The League of British Artists, too.


    1. What wonderful images. Thanks for the post.

    2. Thank you for the lovely sight, information and entertainment!

    3. So interesting, and I love the pictures you chose! A great way to start the day! Thank you!

    4. It was so hard to choose among the beautiful ad art from the period. It seems women's concerns haven't changed all that much either

    5. Lovely to see the Swanage poster - we spent childhood holidays there, and my parents retired there a couple of years ago!

    6. What a spectacular post!!! Loved it!

    7. Interesting...the first few images certainly demonstrate the domestic ideal expected of women during this period...thanks for sharing!


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