The Ad World

It’s been said you can tell an age by its advertising, and to the extent we possess the records, the adage seems to be true: ancient graffiti on the walls in Pompeii bring 2000-year-old elections alive like no tract from Cicero ever could;  miniature manikins – dressed in the latest crinoline and lace and sent from Paris to the Colonies as ads for the newest fashions – reveal more about 18th century costume than a whole page of pallid text.

Fortunately for us, the world of FDR’s Harvard is ripe with similar examples that give tone and timbre to the age – if you know where to look. To that end, we’ve been acquiring actual periodicals from January to June 1904 for the Suite (including, too, a spectacular bound copy of the Crimson for 1900-1901) so that a visitor might casually pick up Harpers Magazine or Colliers, and flick through the pages just as if they had popped in for a few hours in May of 04.

I wanted to show you a few of my favorites pieces from this collection, which to my mind at least, make you realize how much the world has truly changed.

This first one is a classic.

What else can I say? Papa told me so!

We tend to forget too that personal hygiene has been revolutionized in the last century. Imagine a time with no deodorants?

And, as we are blistering through another baking summer, how about a world of binding clothes and no air conditioning?

And here’s something that totally fascinated me. Throughout the Crimson pages, I found example after example of this ad:

Beyond the name, which I thought totally cool for a cigarette (Egyptian Deities was the model for an upstart American knock-off, Camels) there was the fact that many of these ads simply proclaimed “Egyptian Deities” without a single word of explanatory byline –  the brand was so famous at Harvard to need no further introduction.

(Just like another ad I found again and again in the Crimson: Harvard University Training Tables: 15 Bow Street. YOU ALL KNOW YOUNG! “No I don’t know Young,” I’m grumbling to myself, frustrated, “tell me who he is!”).

In this case however, a thought occurred:  Lapes and Frank both smoked. Surely there would have been cigarettes in the Suite. Could some of these Deities cigarettes have possibly survived from that time? If so, what a coup to track some down!

Well, a quasi-coup, as it turned out…

Sans cigarettes, but an actual 1900 Deities tin nonetheless, procured on EBay for $15, now destined for the Suite!

How’s that for divine intervention?

Or perhaps, more aptly, ad inspiration?

All brought about by folks like you.

Some People Read History. Others Make It.
Come make a little history: support the FDR Suite Foundation!





Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.