Throwback Thursday: Advertising from the John Martin Smith Collection

Willennar Genealogy Center’s collection is full of Throwback Thursday potential, so let’s get our #TBT on!

Before TV and radio, businesses tried several creative approaches to getting (and keeping) their customers’ attention. Let’s look at some of their ideas from the JMS Collection.

  Victorian Trading Card

The spread of color lithography in the 1870s brought the rise of Victorian trade cards, colorful illustrations used by businesses to promote their goods and services. Collecting trade cards was a common pastime, and Victorians often kept scrapbooks of their collections. The cards remained popular until the early 1900s, when it became more cost-effective to run color advertisements in magazines.

Pocket Mirror

During the early 1900s, salesmen presented potential customers with “giveaways,” practical gifts that served the dual purpose of advertising for a particular good or service. Pocket mirrors like this, with their customizable celluloid backings, were especially popular.


More ordinary forms of advertising had their moments, too. This letter was supposedly sent from an Auburn car to its owner, requesting to be taken into the Stuehringer Arnett Company for servicing.

The Willenar Genealogy Center also has several advertising postcards in the collection. To check out them out, click here and search for “advertisement postcard.”

-Written by Genealogy Intern Chelsea


About Jenny

I am the Associate Director of Eckhart Public Library. My office is in the Administrative Annex, but I can often be found roaming the Eckhart Public Library Campus, performing acts of librarianship in every department! I love to read and learn about history. I'm also a huge fan of movies, TV and pop culture in general, and I love to read books of all types. Currently, I'm working my way around the romance section, with some historical fiction and graphic novels thrown in for variety! But you never know what I'm going to pick up next.
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One Response to Throwback Thursday: Advertising from the John Martin Smith Collection

  1. Pingback: Throwback Thursday: Trade Cards | Charlie Chat

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