Author: Lisa Lorentz

Sunday Ads: Indy’s Industrious, Illustrious Illustrators

Let’s set the scene… Indianapolis in the 1890s: Due to recent technological advances in printing, Indianapolis newspapers are suddenly able to efficiently print cartoons and illustrations on every page. These become popular features for entertainment and reporting, and subscribers are delighted. But, if the newspapers and magazines of the era are to… daily… fill their pages with engaging artwork to keep up with the readership’s demand, they need a legion of talented, trained artists.  Now, what? 1900 Advertisement in Scribner’s. The Butler University yearbook of 1899 refers to the National Illustrating Company as “the oldest, largest and leading engraving house...

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Sunday Ads: Button It!

 Colonel Mustard… in the Library… with a Button Hook. Wait. What’s a button hook?  Long before the invention of spandex and Velcro, our ancestors wore a number of button-up garments, such as shoes, dresses and gloves. A Victorian era lady could take hours to dress. Without the assistance of a button hook (such as the one above recently found on eBay) to assist her with buttoning her garments, a corseted lady who didn’t have a maid to help her dress might never get downstairs to dinner. The basic design of a button hook was comprised of a handle and a...

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Sunday Adverts: Keeping Indianapolis Beautiful

Let’s Face It Around the early 20th Century, there was a developing beauty industry in Indianapolis. And, as the whole country emerged from the ravages of WWI, there came a dramatic acceptance and use of cosmetics. The 1920s also saw the arrival of a particular beauty craze – complexion clays. Until the 1920s, the use of beauty clay was largely restricted to spas, salons, and barber shops, but around 1922, a number of companies in the US began to promote clay as a complexion purifier, each promoting its particular clay and aiming their advertisements at the individual consumer. The claims made by...

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Sunday Ads: Raggedy Indy

 A Sweet Little Raggedy Doll and a Sweet Little Raggedy House at 537 N. Tacoma Avenue Raggedy Ann Once again, eBay serves as the source of inspiration for historical discovery! Last week, a rare 1915 Raggedy Ann doll in good condition with original dress was listed for sale at $1600 — a steep price for a doll that sported the name “Raggedy” from the get-go. The century-old legend of Raggedy Ann was the creation of Indianapolis native, John Barton “Johnny” Gruelle (1880-1938) who moved with his family to Indianapolis from Arcola, Illinois when he was a young boy. His father,...

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Sunday Ads: Hot Product

Advertising postcard recently offered on eBay. The circa 1905 rendering depicts the manufacturing plant of the Home Stove Company.  Located at 501-535 Kentucky Avenue, it was bounded by Henry, Aug, Merrill and Eckert (later, California) Streets. Conquering winter has been more than a pastime in this region throughout all of its human history. One Hoosier made it his passion. The Cast Iron Stove Many of us lick our lips at the thought of waking up to a farm-style breakfast made on a cast-iron kitchen stove. After the 1850s, stove manufacturers produced large models upon which a farmwife might cook bacon, eggs, ‘taters,...

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Sunday Ads: Beef Tea for Beefcake

A beefy gentleman. Does anyone else find this 1901 Armour’s Vigoral advertisement a little… revealing? Perhaps you knew that Beef Tea was as popular as Darjeeling or Earl Grey in Indianapolis around the turn of the last century. It was news to me. Indeed, bouillon, a “concentrated protein beverage extracted from the essence of beef,” has been used to restore human health since the 18th century. Florence Nightingale used beef tea to restore fallen Crimean War soldiers. American Civil War soldiers were likewise treated. In the 1880s, commercial beef extracts were employed to make a quick beef tea. Some...

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Sunday Ads: Measure of Success

Hundred-year-old medicine dosing glass advertising the Joseph T. Stokes Pharmacies, once in Indianapolis. Item recently sighted on eBay. The Joseph T. Stokes Pharmacies – 226 N. Meridian Street – 607 Hume-Mansur Building  As the Encyclopedia of Indianapolis tells us, the first pharmacist in the territory was undoubtedly a native healer, dispensing comfort and hope in the form of compounded indigenous roots, berries, and leaves. Early European pioneers relied on traditional remedies, superstitions, and nostrums brought with them from their place of origin, since there were few physicians to prescribe medicines in this region until the mid-19th century. An apothecary of the time...

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Sunday Ads: We’ve Got You Covered

Do-It-Yourselfer… Prior to the 1840s, this is how the world worked:  If you wanted to mail something in an envelope, you had to make it yourself. It wasn’t until 1840 that a Brit by the name of George Wilson patented a method of tessellating (tiling) a number of envelope patterns across a large sheet of paper. Then, in 1845, Edwin Hill and Warren De laRue obtained a British patent for a steam-driven machine that not only cut out the envelope shapes, but creased and folded them, as well. Hill and De laRue displayed their machine at the Crystal Palace in the Great Exhibition of...

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Sunday Ads: Loveliest Logo – Dauner Coal

Coal company logo: surfaced recently among a pile of materials in a Carmel, Indiana, antique store. Dauner Wholesale Coal and Coke Company Bituminous coal has been one of Indiana’s most valuable natural resources since its discovery along the banks of the Wabash River in 1736. These resources began to attract industry around 1804, when public land surveys identified a number of outcrops. Indiana coal was part of the first cargo taken by Robert Fulton in the maiden trip of the steamer “Orleans” down the Ohio river in 1811.” It seems reasonably certain that coal was mined for local consumption...

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Sunday Adverts: Bank On It

A great little piece of advertising history: House-shaped coin bank form People’s State Bank, Indianapolis. The back says, “Prompt attention will be given mortgage applications.” The front says, “The Peoples State Bank Felix T. McWhirter, founder —  Indianapolis, Indiana.” (Item sold recently on eBay.) Do You Remember Peoples Bank? The oldest state bank in Indianapolis, Peoples Bank & Trust Company, was founded by a professor, businessman, and politician. They just happened to be the same man. Felix Tony McWhirter was born in Lynchburg, Tennessee, in 1853. McWhirter was a man of wide-ranging talents and ambitions. While attending East Tennessee Wesleyan University, he met Luella...

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Sunday Adverts: Haag Drugs

  If you’ve lived in Indiana long (and you’re older than 20) you likely have fond memories of the late Haag Drug Stores. Within our lifetime, Haag’s was your average drug store — the kind of place where you could get pills, potions and practical advice from the pharmacist who lived right down the street. What you probably didn’t realize, as you perused the aisles for acne creams and candy buttons, was how far back the company’s history went. Haag Drug Stores: A National Chain with Roots in Indianapolis The Encyclopedia of Indianapolis reveals that German-born brothers Louis and Julius Haag opened...

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Sunday Adverts: The Postcard From Nowhere

A “Postcard from Nowhere,” side one: found in Indianapolis Marion County Public Library Digital Indy Collection A Vintage Advertising Curiosity Researching old advertisements can bring on a serious case of the “WhatTheHecks!?” Take, for example, this early advertisement by the Indianapolis Polar Ice & Fuel Company, featuring illustrations of three buildings that bear no relation to the company… nor to ice… or fuel, and it doesn’t list the advertiser’s contact information. The designers left virtually no space for correspondence on the back, so though it is clearly labeled as such, it’s hardly a functional postcard. Trade cards and postal cards were...

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Sunday Adverts: Geisendorff… Just Milling Around

This postcard, found recently on eBay, was from Geisendorff & Co. woolens factory, a 19th century manufacturer once located on the near-west side of downtown Indianapolis on land that is now the White River State Park. All that remains of this once-vibrant business: random ephemera like this postcard and remnants of a street bearing the name. In 1847 two brothers, Christian E. and George W. Geisendorff, took over an abandoned building once occupied by the Indianapolis Steam Mill Company. At that time the area was called “Cotton Town” and it was located on the canal. Woolen milling was not a promising...

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Sunday Adverts: Happy New Year 1915

The more things change, the more they stay the same.” In exploring a local newspaper from 100 years ago, one thing seems obvious: not much has changed. Oh sure, the photographic and type styles are different, and the vocabulary varies a little. But, we appear to find the same things interesting as did our counterparts of the early 20th century: feats of sporting heroism, sage advice, the newest gadgets, the most audacious tragedies, obituaries, personals, foreign wars, local society… and of course, commerce. Please enjoy some of these New Year’s Day advertisements from the 1915 Indianapolis Star and let the...

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Sunday Adverts: Iceman Cometh (with Coal for your Stocking)

Coupon book recently for sale on Amazon.com Irvington Ice & Coal Company Icemen and coalmen made door-to-door deliveries by wagon or truck in the days when the Irvington Ice and Coal Company began its operation at 412. S. Ritter. The company was founded in 1916 within the city of Irvington (now an Indianapolis neighborhood) by local businessmen (the Swartz and Thompson families) who were eager to fulfill a growing need for ice in the summer and coal in the winter. Though considered a bit of an aesthetic albatross amid the winding tree-lined neighborhoods of Irvington, the operation located near...

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Sunday Adverts: Long gone Regal Guitar Mfg. STILL has the perfect gift for you!

I wonder what name they finally settled on! Advertisement from early 1901. Probably from a newspaper. eBay Regal Manufacturing Company was a division of the Wulschner-Stewart Music Company. Emil Wulschner (b. 1847)  immigrated to Indianapolis from Germany in 1875.  In 1888, he founded the Emil Wulschner Music Company and then shortly thereafter, he added his stepson, Alexander Stewart, as a partner so the business name was changed to Wulschner & Son Music Company.  (The name would change for a third time to Wulschner-Stewart Music Company after Emil’s death in 1900.) The Wulschner-Stewart Music Company printed sheet music, published original compositions,...

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Sunday Adverts: Panacea for a Plethora of Problems

Are your eyes (and waist) still bulging from your Thanksgiving feast? Put on a little weight? Caught a sniffle from the crew sitting at the kids’ table? Got a case of the holiday blues? 100 years ago, they had an easy remedy for all of that! Patent medicines promising “miracles” were widely popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  According to a 1905 article in Colliers, The Great American Fraud, American consumers were spending more than seventy-five million dollars a year on patent medicines by the turn of the century.  Since there were no restrictions on advertising or...

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Sunday Adverts: Thanksgiving Love and Lard

Vintage Meat Recipe Book, 1946… an Adventure in Fat! There are some history enthusiasts who yearn to recreate the “good old days.” These intrepid time travelers long to capture the mindset of an ancestor… feel the hardships… taste the heritage. You see them at Renaissance festivals, Civil War reenactments, libraries, historical societies — and sometimes in kitchens, hovering over great-grandma’s secret cranberry stuffing recipe. Indeed, tasting the foods of our forefathers gives us a way to appreciate how far we’ve come. Kingan’s Reliable The Kingan & Co. meat-packing business operated at 55 S. Blackford Street in Indianapolis from 1862 – 1966 (at Maryland...

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Sunday Adverts: Black Friday 100 Years Ago

Do you think “Black Friday” shopping fervor is a recent invention? Think Again! While the earliest known use of “Black Friday” (specifically referring to shopping on the day after Thanksgiving) dates to 1961, the term has been used going back to the 19th century — and the dawn of the department store. And, though stores-with-multiple-departments have been around since the 1700s, the birth of the department store, as we have come to know it, was in the earliest days of the 1900s. The best known of these stores, Selfridges, (thanks to the PBS television series of the same name) was...

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Sunday Adverts: What Is It!?

Here are your hints: – 100 years ago – Cold and flu season – Epidemics – Bugs – Funeral homes – Outhouses Answer: Behold the Formacone disinfectant and (peee-yoooo!) deodorizer. Very soon the windows must be closed, the steam heat turned on, and winter coughs, colds, grippe, catarrh, and other respiratory or germ diseases will prevail unless the women of Indianapolis remember to get and use the famous Formacone air purifier.” — Indianapolis Star advertisement October 1913 The Formacone was a device invented to release formalin, a form of formaldehyde, into the air for the purpose of disinfection… and...

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