Thursday 2 September 2010


An advert from 1885 [click to enlarge]. Note the promise of 'Special Lasts kept for the Customer's sole use' (ie. models of your foot size/shape) ... the Victorian knew how to do service. Also, love those fonts, no?


  1. Great stuff, there's a really good book out by Maurice Baren entitled "Victorian Shopping" which contains plenty of adverts like this for clothing, toys, medicine and soap. Very ammusing to see the way things were advertized back then, you really had to make a commitment to read adverts back then, not like the big bright colours and one-line tags of today.

  2. Was the use of the word "sole" an intended pun or a felicitous accident? Such a coincidental use of words could surely not escape the eye of a boot and shoe retailer.

    I read somewhere recently that the advice given to today's advertisers is to make their adverts as short and punchy as possible. That speaks volumes for the impatience and shrinking attention spans of our modern age. Were the Victorians more patient than us or did they have more time to spend perusing detailed advertisements?

    I think price lists are another thing to look out for. These days, prices change rapidly (usually upwards) and few retailers are prepared to state prices at all except in the most ephemeral publications or as "guide prices only". So confident were the Victorian businessmen of the stability of their prices that they could afford to have them painted on the walls of their establishments and recorded in other equally permanent forms. (You notice this, for example, in old livery stables that have survived as garages or office blocks and whose prices are still visible under many coats of paint.)