Slick advertising copy

Can only apologise for this .. absolutely no legal-historical justification, nor academic merit, just a collection of adverts from old newspapers (Welsh Newspaper Archive – thank you!) which made me smile for one reason or another. There is something utterly charming about the clumsy earnestness of a lot of late 19th-early 20th C advertising, and somehow that is intensified in papers from well outside London and its orbit.

First off, here is a rather scary lingerie/scaffolding ad from 1918 … definitely no suggestion of comfort …

Still with clothing, this one from 1910 has all sorts going on … I like the slick ‘for the million and the millionaire’ line, and the name of the shop – they definitely had a brand strategy. And the concept of a ‘holiday suit’ is rather interesting …

And this one from 1908 speaks for itself (snigger …)

Smiled at the clumsy chirpiness of a couple of ads from the Cambrian in 1907: first, we have the classic advert non sequitur, pushing toffees

and then a bouncing bit of alliteration to encourage us in the direction of ‘bile beans’ (mmmm!)

A bit of verse is always nice – we can see a fine example in this bread ad from 1906:


The extra layer in some of the adverts is the provision of either a full translation, or else just a line of Welsh. Somebody was probably very satisfied with this, in a tea advert of 1906 – this was ‘the best (tea) under the sun’, for example …


Could go on and on, but we’ll end with my favourite, a cracker from 1908 – a ‘Wenglish’ classic –  ‘What about Knickers?; Well, indeed. What about them? Sadly it is not your actual underwear – or presumably not, since there is mention of cord and tweed. I mean, no doubt the people of the early 20th C were tougher than the likes of us, but I don’t think even they would want smalls made of tweed. I am assuming that it’s some sort of trouserage.


23/9/2022 (and later updates)