Advertisements Featuring Boys' Clothing: Chronology--The 19th Century

Figure 1.-- This ad comes from the Youth's Companion (October 26,1899), p. 546. It is for a boy's scroll saw, a machine for cutting pieces of wood into fancy shapes and used in boys' craft shops for making such objects as ornamental birdcages or other decorative items. These were popular with boys at the turn of the century.

Adverisements were not new to the 19th century. We notice ads in the 18th century. A number of trends developing in the 19th century meant that a whole new industry was created--the advertising industry. Important factors were the developing industrial economy giving increaing purchaseing power to a vastly increased population. Technical improvements in publishing, including lithography and photography were other factors. This helped to bring about mass circulation publications provising a vehicle fof advertisers. As a result there were by the late-19th century an increasingly sophisticated advertising industry. Much more of course was to come in the 20th century.

The 18??s

Pears Soap (18??: England)

Virtually everyone has seen the bubble boy, but few can identify the artist. Sir John Everett Millais was one of the most important 19th century English portraists, but little known today. His painting "Bubbles", is one of the most well-known images to the public at large, few who could name the artist. This famous late-period painting by Millais, became notorious when it was acquired by the Pears soap company for advertising purposes. Long after Pears stopped using it, the image was reproduced on dishes, candy boxes, and it countless commercial medium in England, America, and the Continent. Few images in the history of art have been so widely disseminated. We have not yet created a separate ad page for it, but it can be viewed on the Millais page.

The 1870s

Marble Shooter (1876: United States)

Shooting marbles were a popular game for boys. Marbles were relatively inexpensive, so virtually every boy could afford to play. In fact, it was probably more common for boys from humble than rich families. I'm not sure just when American boys began shooting marbles. It is clear that it was common by mid-century and probably muc earlier. A 1876 advertisement promoted a marble shooter, suggesting that ordinary marble shooting was already well established. The boys in the ad wear narrow brimmed hats with rounded crows and long pants.

The 1880s

Steinwandle Shoes (1880s?)

Here is a beautiful colorized ad for Steinwandle Shoes of Lancaster, Pennsylvania made to look like a cabinent card. I am not sure about the date it was printed. A dealer writes, "I believe it was from the 1860s. I found it in a Bible/Religious book (that I am selling separately) dated 1868 so it is from around that time or a bit later I am guessing. It measures approx. 4 by 6 1/2 inches with a beautifu scene of two young girls holding one another and one has a dog on her lap. On the bottom is states: "Go to Steinwnadle, For a good boot or shoe" and the address of the store in Lancaster." We are not sure about the date. The high-quality lithography, however, suggests that the date is more likely the 1880s.

The 1890s

Advertisements at the beginning of the 1890s were illutrated lithographed drawings. By the end of the decade we begin to see photolithography. The process was at first expensive. So you see photographs first appearing in advertisements before they were widely used to illustrate actual articles.

New Home Sewing Machine (1890s?: United States)

Here is an old business card from the New Home Sewing Machine Company in Chicago illustrated with a boy. It is undated, but we would guess dates to the 1890s, in part because of the clothes tht the boy is wearing. The boy wears a red cap, a long sleeve white shirt with a blue collar bow, redish pants probably knickers, blue socks, and dark strap shoes. He is pictured with long curly hair. It is a amusing card with the boy holding two puppies.

Scott's Emulsion (1890s?: United States)

Cod liver oil was considered a valuable dietary supplement for children at least as early as the late 19th century. It was not very popular with the children, but many mothers considered it essential. One popular brand in America was Scott's Emulsion pr in full Scott's Emulsion of Cod Liver Oil with the Hypophosphites of Lime and Soda. It was advertized as "the best remidy in existence" for a host of ailments. HBC has obtained a card with a helthy-looking boy in a sailor suit advertising the product. We are not certain of the date. It looks to be the 1890s, but we are still assessing that.

A.B Chase Piano Company (1893: United States)

We have virtually no information on the child piano prodigy Ruben Demarest. We know, however, that he performed at the Chicago World's Fair in 1893 in association with the A.B. Chase piano compamy. A promotional portrait at the time shows little Ruben in front of an enormous and elaborately carved Chase piano. Ruben has short curls and is wearing a Little Lord Faintleroy outfit. Unfortunately we have no information on his musical abilities or any further contribution to the wotld of music.

Vive Camera (1897: United States)

We are not sure in what magazine or newspaper this adverisement appeared, but we know it was published in 1897. At the time the process of photolithography was vey new. It was also expensive so you see it being used first in advertisements rather in regular news articles. The ad copy read, "The Largest Picture. A $5.00 Vive is the best and most popular holiday present for old and young, man, woman, or child. The Vive No 4. 4 X 5, $10.OO camera has all advantages claimed for any other hand camera, and is equipped with our patent focusing magazine for taking LARGE CABINET BUST PICTURES. 18 glass plates, OR 50 cut films can be carried in eith camera and exposed WITH­OUT RELOADING or any additional cost for metal holders. BEFORE BUYING ANY OTHER send 2-cent stamp for 1897 Art Catalogue, showing sample pictures, and NINE STYLES of VIVES, from $5.00 TO $35.00 OR 3 cents extra for finely embossed mounted photograph. Photograph taken with the $5.00 Vive, by W. P. Moore, Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Vive Camera Company, HOME OFFICE, 153 La Salle Street, Chicago, N. Y. Office, 621 Broadway, Boston Office, 145A Tremont St."

Roger's Scroll Saw (1899: United States)

This ad comes from the Youth's Companion (October 26. 1899), p. 546 (figure 1). It is for a boy's scroll saw, a machine for cutting pieces of wood into fancy shapes and used in boys' craft shops for making such objects as ornamental birdcages or other decorative items. These were popular with boys at the turn of the century. Notice that the boy working on the scroll saw is rather formally dressed for pursuing his hobby. He wears a double-breasted knee pants suit with a collar and tie, long black stockings, and hightop shoes. Presumably he is wearing typical school clothes of the period. He seems to be about 12 or 13 years old.


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Created: 12:52 AM 1/18/2005
Last updated: 11:42 PM 5/30/2007