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Nineteenth Century Early Advertising Featured Just Plain Information

Over the run of the nineteenth century advertising changed from just  telling the customer what the product was, to creating a need for the product.

Here is an example of advertising as just information. This ad [below] for the James Vick Seed Company appeared in Philadelphia nurseryman Thomas Meehan’s magazine, Gardener’s Monthly, in 1871.

Notice the ad is just words, and no illustration. These simple words appear: “The catalog is ready to send out.” As if the customer would write in at once.


This ad appeared in Gardner’s Monthly in January, 1871.


By the end of the century, such an ad would include colors and people. Often women appeared in a garden scene.

Since there were so many products competing for the attention of the gardener, the goal was to make an ad stand out amongst many ads.

By the end of the nineteenth century advertising had changed so that a company had to create a need for the product.  No longer could the company just give information.

Advertisers who were then professionals themselves in a new industry figured out that people didn’t need things.  They needed to fill such human desires as love, style, fashion, comfort, ease, and togetherness.  Those ideas became what advertising sold.

And that is what still happens in advertising to this day.

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