It's scarcely a secret that - like many of you as well - I wildly adore vintage ads and images. Be they for use here in blog posts or my own personal inspiration, rarely does a day go by when I don't spend time peering at yesteryear ads (and, fairly often, pinning them in the process).
I love the artistry, the workmanship, the creativity, (at times) the quirkiness, the immense variety, and the sense of how life was perceived (if only from a marketing standpoint) of early and mid-twentieth century advertisements. Many were illustrated by some of the foremost artists of their day, whereas others continue beautiful photography, and some are little more than text, but those words usually speak volumes both for the product in the ad itself, and for how the company behind it viewed their audience.
In today's world we're constantly bombarded with a seemingly unending array of ads across all manner of media channels, but back in the 1930s or 40s, for example, less of these channels existed (TV was in its infancy and the internet as we know it today was still decades away) and so marketers often relied on print ads as their most powerful and important way of reaching a broad demographic. I think that this point is part of the reason why so many vintage ads were so effective, and why they continue to appeal to many people to this very day.
In the hunt for vintage Christmas images to use here last December, I ran across something that I don't encounter all that often any more (having years of online ad hunting experience under my belt, that is): a new (to me) source of vintage ads.
At present, the ads in this hefty online collection span the years from 1915 to 1955, and are primarily centered around five categories: radio, television, transportation, beauty and hygiene, and World War II. According to the collection's about page, the "advertisements are from the J. Walter Thompson Company Competitive Advertisements Collection of the John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History in Duke University's David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library".
For the first couple of days after I discovered this site, I spent as much of my free time as possible, pouring though the bevy of fascinating, entertaining, and sometimes just plain old practical, ads it houses, yet only began to scratch the surface of viewing all 7,000+ that appear there.
Over time I plan to check them all out, especially since I'll then have a solid knowledge of exactly what the collection contains, and thus can (hopefully) call to mind an ad I saw there that would be perfect for a future post while I'm putting it together.
Beyond the blogging side of things though, it's just plain fun to pursue so very many terrific 1910s-1950s ads (like the elegantly beautiful Elizabeth Arden advert from 1936 pictured below) in one handy-dandy spot.
I hope that you find Duke University's Ad*Access digital library as fascinating, helpful, and enjoyable as I did - and that you unearth an ad or two (or five hundred!) that you can use for your own vintage image related purposes, too.
Happy advertisement viewing, my dears!