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Scrapbook of advertising cards


Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Advertising has been part of America's consumer culture from colonization, but grew in scale throughout the Industrial Revolution and the Roaring Twenties. In the years preceding the Great Depression, "manufacturers realized the potential advertising represented and used the medium to reach new buying publics ... soon advertisements filled every available public space, were sent to people's homes via catalogs and flyers, and crammed radio airwaves, newspapers, and magazine pages," (Coombs, p. xiii). Increased attention was given to design, typescript, and branding. While the Great Depression limited buying power for the typical American, advertisers "pivoted messaging to focus on themes of thrift [and] patriotism ... us[ing] testimonials, 'the hard sell,' product placement and sponsorships to convince buyers to spend," (Library of Congress). In the post-war boom, advertisers capitalized on Americans who were anxious to return to a life filled with material goods and feelings of prosperity.

It is unknown who collected the advertisements in this scrapbook or if there was a collecting focus. Ads were created for a variety of goods and industries including, but not limited to, automobiles, banks and safes, clothing and shoes, foods, fuels (gasoline and coal and coke), home improvement, insurance, medicines and pharmaceuticals, printing and engraving, stationery, and train travel. Included are political ads, ads recruiting United States Marines, and ads promoting the value of the the Boy Scouts and the YMCA. Geographically, ads are from states throughout the United States and from New Zealand. The size and style of the ads are the most unifying aspects of this scrapbook.

The result is a diverse window into the goods and services available (and possibly of importance) in Depression-era America, as well as advertising techniques employed at the time.


Coombs, Danielle Sarver and Bob Batchelor, editors. "We Are What We Sell: How Advertising Shapes American Life … and Always Has," Volume 1. Santa Barbara, California: Praeger, 2014

Library of Congress, introduction (, accessed 2022 September 30.

Marchand, Roland. Advertising the American Dream: Making Way for Modernity, 1920-1940, University of California Press, 1985 (

This scrapbook contains a variety of advertising cards from retailers, manufacturers, bankers, insurance salesmen, and politicians from the United States (and a few from New Zealand) from the late 1920s to the 1940s. The vast majority date from the 1930s.

For the most part, advertisements are printed on heavy 10 x 23 cm card stock and have been attached to scrapbook pages, in what appears to be a random order. A fair number of ads are colored, almost all contain an image of some sort, and many include calendars which are helpful in dating the advertisements.

Although there are ads for businesses and organizations in California, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin; there are a concentration from California (particularly Pasadena) and Kentucky. In addition, there are a large number of ads relating to insurance (life, automobile, home, and fire), as well as the printing industry.

There are four ads for Armstrong & Springhall, Ltd, the "largest business service organization in New Zealand." These four ads are distinctly different than any of the others contained within the scrapbook, with what looks like typewritten text. All four state that they were "produced on the Gestetner," a stencil-method duplicator.

Advertisers include: Albert B. Crush & Co. Mill Supplies, American National Insurance Company, Antique Broad Ripple, Armstrong & Springhall, Ltd., Artcraft Printing Co., Atlantic Fire Insurance Company, Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, Bessire & Company, Inc., Better Housing Program, Blue Valley Butter, Boy Scouts of America, Bruce Hoblitzell Insurance Agency, Butler's, California Insurance Company, Canadian Fire Insurance Company, Citizens Commercial Trust and Savings Bank (two ads), Cohen Bros. Corp., Commonwealth Life, Connecticut General Life Insurance Company, Conser Laundry Co., Consolidated Four Mills Co., Courier-Journal Job Printing Co., Dun & Bradstreet, E. Broox Randall & Sons, Inc. (sixteen ads), Ed Switzer for Clothing, Edward H. Rust Nurseries (two ads), Ellis Insurance Agency, Excelsior Printing Co., Excelsior Roof Paint Company, E.M. Jasper Wholesale Produce, F. H. Pfunder, Inc., Firemen's Insurance Co., First National Bank and Kentucky Title Trust Co. (two ads), First National Bank of Los Angeles, First National Trust and Savings Bank of Pasadena, F-M Cleaners, Franklin Printing Co. (four ads), Georgia Home Insurance Company, Gerlanch-Barklow Co. (four ads), Grain Dealers National Mutual Fire Insurance Company, Green & White Cafe, Guy Johnson Printing Co., Gwynn Chevrolet, Hammer Printing & Office Supply Co., Hatcher Printing Co., Herman's Shoe Repair Shop (two ads), Highland Roofing Co., Hoffman-LaRoche Inc., Home Insurance Company New York, Home Laundry Co., Independence Fire Insurance Company, Jackson's Printing Company (three ads), J. and J. Sutherland Limited (two ads), J. C. Nichols Companies, Jefferson City Chamber of Commerce, Jones & Laughlin Steel Corporation, Lewis Roberts, Inc., Louisville & Nashville Railroad, Marion L. Kaelin Signs, Maverick-Clarke Litho Co., Mayes Printing Co., McAlpin's Flour, McCray Refrigerator Co., Milwaukee Mechanics' Insurance Company, Mississippi Valley Trust Company, Motorists Mutual Insurance Company, Mutual Land and Investment Co., National City Bank of New York, Newton 3 Way Automatic Stoker, Northern Pacific, Parke, Davis & Co. (two ads), Pittsburgh Fuel Company, Remington Rand, Republic Insurance Company (three ads), Potomac Insurance Company of the District of Columbia, Royal Laundry, Roy Wilmeth Co., Inc., R.H. Jenkins General Agency, Ltd., Seaboard National Bank, Southern Coal & Coke Co. (two ads), Southern Railway System, Stafford-Lowdon Co. (two ads), Stephenville Printing Company, St. Louis Envelope Company, Stolle Oil Refining Co. (three ads), Super Shell, Trinity Universal Insurance Company, Typewriter Supply Co., Union Central Life Insurance Company, Union Stationery and Printing Company, United States Marines, Upjohn Company (two ads), Western Cartridge Company, Wm. P. Poythress & Co., Inc., Wrenn Paper Company (two ads), YMCA, and Yorkshire Fire Insurance Company.

Politicians with ads include William E. Fox, Carl Hinshaw, Roger Jessup, and Clark Murray.

Sold by Montgomery Rare Books and Manuscripts, 2021.

University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
Finding Aid Author
Sam Allingham
Finding Aid Date
2022 September 23
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Scrapbook of promotional advertising cards from the United States and New Zealand, 1927-1949.
Box 1 Folder 1

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