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10 Great Moments in Advertising! Chronicling America

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We continue our Throwback Thursday #TBT celebration of Chronicling America, our free, online searchable database of historical U.S. newspapers, with interesting stories from the archives as selected by reference librarians in our Serials & Government Publications Division.

Today we return to our historical newspaper archives to veer off from the normal journalistic endeavors and examine the bold and sometimes peculiar world of newspaper advertising. Here are some ads that caught our eye:

"Help! Help! Help!" illustrated advertisement from the Pascagoula (Miss.) Democrat-Star, April 20, 1888.
“Help! Help! Help!” illustrated advertisement from the Pascagoula (Miss.) Democrat-Star, April 20, 1888.

Help! Help! Help!
W.G. Tebault has an “immense stock” of dry goods to sell, and it takes, well, a freakishly large hand to sell them. Pascagoula (Miss.) Democrat-Star, April 20, 1888.

Wrigley’s: Six Reasons Why It’s a Good Friend
Chewing gum not only steadies your nerves but also is economical—two fine traits in a good friend. Carrizozo (N.M.) News, May 24, 1918.

Puss in Boots
A rather alarming kitty in a fine bowler hat hawks footwear for the Manufacturer’s Shoe Company. Pacific (Honolulu) Commercial Advertiser, Feb. 12, 1895.

The Most Wonderful Endorsement Ever Given Any Product
A strong boast! But when march composer and bandleader John Philip Sousa and all 66 members of his band sing the praises of Tuxedo tobacco, you must be on to something. “All the vim, energy and enthusiasm we put into the playing of the ‘Stars and Stripes Forever’ we find in the steady use of Tuxedo.” Lexington (Mo.) Intelligencer, Feb. 11, 1916.

The Largest and Handsomest Dental Parlors in All America
The hyperbole continues and the illustrations become a little more alarming in this ad promoting the fine practice of Dr. W.J. Hurd, “the friend of suffering humanity.” St. Paul (Minn.) Daily Globe, Dec. 10, 1894.

"The Largest and Handsomest Dental Parlors in All America," illustrated advertisement from the St. Paul (Minn.) Daily Globe, Dec. 10, 1894.
“The Largest and Handsomest Dental Parlors in All America,” illustrated advertisement from the St. Paul (Minn.) Daily Globe, Dec. 10, 1894.

Are You Summer Tired?
Run down, no appetite, tired in the morning and sallow of complexion? Well, Duffy’s Pure Malt Whiskey will put a stop to that. A great summer medicine! Omaha (Neb.) Daily Bee, August 18, 1905.

To Weak Men
If the whiskey doesn’t do it, there’s nothing that improves the nerves, invigorates the muscles and clears up the skin better than an electro-magnetic belt, says Dr. Sanden. Two settings, mild and (ouch) strong. San Francisco Call, Dec. 25, 1895.

“Won’t freeze, won’t break, won’t spill, won’t spot clothes.” Appears to be for “bluing” laundry. And very easy to use. “Directions for use: Wiggle stick around in the water.” Topeka (Kan.) State Journal, Feb. 20, 1904.

Conspicuous Nose Pores
Yikes! The less said about this, perhaps, the better. Washington (D.C.) Evening Star, June 13, 1915.

Shaving Saloon
We close today with jaunty verse, courtesy of the tonsorial concern of Cornsh & Francis in the Cumberland (Md.) Civilian and Telegraph, May 19, 1859:

All who have beards to cut or hair to crop
Just call on us at our New Shop,
At noon or eve, by night or day,
Or any time that you can stay;

Our room is neat, our towels clean,
Our scissors sharp and razors keen,
And everything we think you’ll find
To suit the taste and please the mind.

And then we move our hand as true
As any barber e’er can do.
With rapid touch we’ll smooth the face
And dress the hair with equal grace.
And all that art and skill can do,
Your money will procure for you.

Launched by the Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) in 2007, Chronicling America provides enhanced and permanent access to historically significant newspapers published in the United States between 1836 and 1922. It is part of the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP), a joint effort between the two agencies and partners in 40 states and territories. Start exploring the first draft of history today at and help us celebrate on Twitter and Facebook by sharing your findings and using the hashtag #ChronAm.

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