Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Oldtime Advertising Gimmicks Now Are Sought by Collectors

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Oldtime Advertising Gimmicks Now Are Sought by Collectors

Article excerpt

ADVERTISING GIMMICKS and giveaways have been used in the United States since the Civil War.

Over the years, businesses have given away calendars, trays, match holders, glasses, small colored pictures called "trade cards," and much more.

Flour was sold in sacks that could be made into dresses. Boxes of cereal were sold with a dish inside. One company even offered a decorated cardboard circle that could be used to cover the hole in the wall exposed when a heating-stove pipe was removed in the summer. One of the companies that gave away many items was De Laval. It made a machine that separated cream from milk while a cow was being milked. It also made tin and paper signs, trays, yearbooks and many other items. The firm, which started in 1878, is still in business. One of the most interesting and collectible De Laval giveaways was a set of tin cutouts depicting cows. Each cow, about 3 1/2 inches long, came with a calf. There were three different breeds. The back of the tin cutout has a place marked "stamp," suggesting that it could have been used as a fancy postcard. Q: I recently found an old patent-medicine bottle. The bottle is clear glass and about 7 inches tall. It is imprinted with the words "Indian Sagwa" and "Healy & Bigelow." A: "Healy & Bigelow" was the biggest name in medicine shows. The partners started making Kickapoo Indian remedies in 1881. The Kickapoos were Algonquians who helped the British during the War of 1812. Although Healy & Bigelow hired more than 1,000 Indians, none of them was actually a Kickapoo. The shows consisted of a manager, six Indians and six other performers. The Indians lived in tepees and performed in front of a painted Indian panorama backdrop. Each was introduced by name and grunted. The last Indian made a speech in "Kickapoo," which the showman would "translate." A "doctor" also lectured. A troop performed music while three Indians played tom-toms. The others would fan out into the audience and sell the remedies. Healy & Bigelow also sold their product through druggists. Your bottle is worth from $50 to $150. Q: I have a sugar and creamer set that is marked on the bottom, in a circle: "Art Industry Made in Czechoslovakia. …

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