Victorian London - Advertising - "Advertising"



PERMIT me to state that the individual who so unwarrantably finished the last Essay is no friend of mine, but an enemy stained with the blackest treachery and ingratitude; and I now give him notice that, unless he immediately repays the 12s. borrowed of me and returns the green-cotton umbrella which he carried off when he last took tea here, I will see whether there is any justice to be had in Kingsgate-street - whether the strong arm of the law cannot arrest such a miscreant in his nefarious career, and teach him, in a voice of thunder, that his conduct has been contrary to every clause in Magna Charta, the Habeas Corpus, and Waste Lands Improvement acts. 
    A class of advertisements to which I would particularly direct attention is that for wives; and here the intelligent reader will not omit to notice a curious fact, namely, that all the gentlemen seeking partners in this way are "good looking," "young," "of amiable dispositions," and "in easy circumstances." I regret to say, I found no difficulty whatever in getting married; although justice towards myself compels me to own that I possessed all those qualifications - my wife seldom reads, and therefore I may venture on this statement. With a view to suit the tastes of these solitary individuals, Mr. Green advertises "the Nobility, Gentry, and Public in general," that he has established a "Matrimonial Office" in Frith-street, Soho; conducted, I am happy to say, "on principles of the strictest honour and secrecy, and Mrs. Green waits on Ladies." When Mrs. Dryasdust was very ill a short time ago, I called at the "office" promiscuously, and was shown a series of photographic portraits, with the owners' fortune inscribed below. However, I regretted to find that the only likeness which could have tempted me belonged to a widow, with twenty-eight pounds a year and six children; and even she might have had red hair.
    To enable the gentlemen to look handsome and the ladies amiable, Mr. Howard advertises to furnish "teeth without springs, wires, or other ligatures;" to replace those lost ; and "mineral succedaneum" to stop those which the sufferer would be glad to find gone. Mr. Fox has "Vegetable Cream" to produce hair, whiskers and eyebrows ; and I can vouch for the efficacy of it, although it has caused a growth of decidedly carrotty appearance. This, however, proves the correctness of its name.
    I need only mention "The Washable Patent Fronts," "Unparalleled Curling Fluid" - a mixture which looks and smells amazingly like ox-tail soup, -"Paris Fixature," Tyrian Hair Dye," "Olden's Eukeirogenion," "Rowland's Odonto," "Pearl Powder, and "Sicilian Bloom," to prove that ugliness will soon be eradicated.
    1 am sometimes extremely puzzled to define the exact difference between the "original," "the old original," and "the real old original;" or to guess why "Earls, Lords, and Bishops'' should all "rush to Lombard-street to buy the 1ls. Doudney." Nor can I clearly understand why "Mrs. Johnson's American Soothing Syrup is a blessing to the human race" - perhaps she will have the goodness to prove it in a plain and practical way by sending me a bottle. "Fanny Kemble and Pandora Tulips" must be as delightful as "Stirling's Stomach Pills" are detestable, although "they are now strongly recommended in consequence of the great Tariff, which will cause a great consumption of American pork, hams and beef:" what a pleasing anticipation!
    There is something very edifying in the study of Literary advertisements. "Softness" by the author of "Hardness" is, I presume, to find its parallel in "Fatness" by the author of "Leanness;" the mind is pleasantly occupied in guessing whether "Kidd's Art of Pleasing and being Pleased" is different from that of other peopel - or in wondering what can be the "One Fault" which Mrs Trollope has committed to the press. " The Diary of a Physician" has given birth to "The Memoirs of a Monthly Nurse," "Reminiscences of a Medical Student," and "Diary of an Upper Housemaid, where a Footman is kept." The TIMES occasionally says - "we are credibly informed the brilliant authoress of the Disgusted One has another  novel in hand;" whilst Mr. Colburn avers, on his veracity, that "the forthcoming work entitled "The Comical-struck Cook; or Love and Trigonometry" is not the production of Sir E.L.Bulwer, but of a lady distinguished in high life for her literary attainments and  acuteness of observation. I do not very clearly see how the public can  have mistaken the author of a book which it is plain they never heard of.
    Advertisements of eatables are delightful reading before dinner. "Baillie's Bilious Breakfast Bacon" alliterates itself  into our favour. "Parfait Amour" means, I am surprised to find, something good to drink. "Smith's Aniseed Cordial" enables respectable ladies to get tipsy secundum artem; and "Cream of the Valley" and "Milk of Canaan" are but refined methods of talking about gin and bitters.  An advertisement of " Parkinson's Aperient Gingerbread" has made me studiously avoid that delicious article of food, for fear of getting hold of the wrong sort by mistake. "A fresh arrival of Maraschino de Drioli at Morel and Co.'s," does not mean, as some country people imagine, that a new Italian singer or dancer has landed at that abode of mysterious and incomprehensible-looking pies, but annouces a liqueur which is particularly nice when you can drink it at another's expense.
    The Kentish Herald lately contained the following notice: "Ranelagh Gardens, Margate - last night of Mount Vesuvius, in consequence of an engagement with the Patagonians." This is tragical enough; but the Times outdoes it in horror, by informing us that "The Nunhead Cemetery is now open for general interment;" and immediately afterwards comes an advertisement of "The London General Mourning Warehouse, Oxford-street;" and then, to crown all, Mr. Simpson, of Long Acre, declares himself ready to make  "Distresses in Town and Country, so as to give general satisfaction."
    Almost every horse advertised is of grand action", "well-bred," "rides very superior," "without vice," "a clever fencer," curious to find that the vendor always parts with his  stud "because he is going abroad. "The Proprietor of the Repository, Bury-place, Bloomsbury-square, retiring from the Canine World, offers to the Public Dogs of superior fashion and character"-and "will sell a Brougham a decided bargain, or change it for a Stanhope."
    I should like to draw a moral from these facts, which is, I believe, the usual and proper course; but my pen is getting extremely bad and my wife has already twice told me to go to bed, as it is washing-night. If any observations of mine have served, as a handkerchief, to wipe away one tear from the eyes of care - as a "Daffy's Elixir" to soothe one pang of a man with the tooth-ache - or as a stick to stir up one generous emotion-I have not been without my reward.

Punch, Jul.-Dec. 1842

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Advertising appears a very simple affair, but it is really a difficult art, and is becoming yearly more difficult. It is still possible, with a comparatively small sum judiciously expended to produce an almost startling result. On the other hand, there are few things more easy than to fool away £1,000 in advertisements without producing any result at all. A man who could spend say £50,000 a year in advertising anything broadcast would probably make his fortune. But these are the Napoleons of Advertisement, and need not be catered for here. The ordinary advertiser must be careful so to lay out every shilling that it shall ensure at the least a fair twelve-pennyworth of publicity. To this end he has three points to consider: First, the nature of the things advertised; second, the special public to which the advertisement may be advantageously addressed; and third, the particular organs best calculated to reach that special public. The subject is too large to be exhaustively discussed here, and indeed would require a volume to itself. But a glance at the list of London newspapers will give as good an idea of the organs to choose in each case as can be given by anything but actual experience. One especial desideratum of the skilful advertiser is what is termed “display,” and against this the daily papers— with the exception of the Daily News—strongly set their faces, the Times being especially fastidious on this head, and having elaborated its restrictions to a refinement which renders evasion almost impossible. Those who do not care to be at the trouble of going to the newspaper office can forward their advertisements through an agent, who will make no extra charge except in the cases of advertisements for the Times, on which a commission is generally demanded.   

Charles Dickens (Jr.), Dickens's Dictionary of London, 1879

... in recent years a revolution has taken place in the daily papers by the insertion of large type and illustrations in their advertising columns to an extent that would have astonished the older newspaper proprietors, and it is not an unmixed advantage to the reader to have thrust upon his notice a whole page advertisement of some patent speciality in type and design of the most aggressive character. The huge poster, too, is a form of advertising which has developed in such a manner as to make the hoardings in the streets vie in humorous and artistic design and colour.

Charles Dickens Jr. et al, Dickens Dictionary of London, c.1908 edition
(no date; based on internal evidence)