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Advertising Remains Tops With Collectors

Here’s a famous face from the past, Elby’s Big Boy, an advertising icon perfect for antique enthusiasts to enjoy.

Aged to a warm gingerbread color, this bank was the first one issued by the company in 1938 and even today, it retains his signature cheery look.

In a culture driven by consumerism, it’s easy to see why advertising items like this are appealing to so many. Promotional trinkets, signs and ads are plentiful, colorful treasures that antique enthusiasts can’t get enough of.

As a social statement, advertising collectibles offer a fascinating look at what was bought and sold during any particular era and are a clear indication of social values and trends.

Plus, it’s lots of fun to read old taglines and advertising ploys, like ads from 100 years ago or so that advertise beer as “cool, refreshing, invigorating … with all the vitalizing properties of hops, vigor and strength of malt.” No need for a disclaimer back then.

The nostalgia is the biggest reason collectors seek these treasures in my opinion since they take you back in time for a moment and offer escape from the anxiety of the day.

Another attractive collectible point for advertising items is the fact that the hobby can fit any budget, even if you’re just starting out. Advertising treasures can be found for anywhere from $10 to thousands of dollars, depending on the rarity of the item, condition and location of the sale.

Just think of the folks that happily collect fast food restaurants’ free give-a-ways. Inexpensive, yet fun — these trinkets became a passion. Many of these won’t retain much value for long so it’s wise to collect what you really like, not base it on investment thinking or resale value.

Creative design and the competitive desire to sell goods, means that ads and promos have to be clever and eye-catching. Collectors use this inherent eye appeal to amass a selection of advertising art that can be displayed in their home as part of the decor.

Today’s column shows two advertising collectibles that focus on Wheeling and offer a nostalgic glimpse of the Friendly City.

Besides the Big Boy, this beautiful old clock, given as a premium by the Speidel Grocery Store in Wheeling, is a stunner. Given as a premium to their best customers as a celebration of the state of West Virginia’s 50th birthday, the Speidel clock is made of heavy brass and includes an inkwell.

The earliest advertising antiques that can be found usually date to the late 1800s. Porcelain signs were made as early as 1890 and signs are one of the most popular advertising items sought after by fans. Check out advertisingantiques.co.uk for a huge wealth of international information on advertising.

Tin containers, used to package consumer goods ranging from crackers and coffee to tobacco and talcum are especially desirable too. After 1880, cans like these might be decorated through the use of lithography.

Designs became intricate and very attractive and make for lovely collectibles today. And it wasn’t until 1906 that the Pure Food and Drug Administration came on the scene, watching over consumer’s rights and demanding that outrageous claims and false advertising stop. The legal watchdog also required that the brand name of the product and the name of the manufacturer be listed on labels.

Some of the most recognized symbols in the world are advertising symbols. Old ones that are tops along with Coca-Cola, include Buster Brown Shoes, the Campbell Kids, Mr. Peanut, Red Goose Shoe Company and the RCA dog, Nipper.

Whatever your favorite, advertising offers a colorful way to collect and share a hobby! And as a conversation piece, old advertising trinkets can’t be beat!


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