Sunday, March 29, 2009

Druggists and Quack Medicine Billheads


Taken from The Hagley Museum and Library Website:

Patent medicine promoters pioneered many advertising and sales techniques. Patent medicine advertising often touted exotic ingredients, even if their actual effects came from more practical elements. The producers of many of these medicines used a primitive version of branding to distinguish themselves from their many competitors.

Within the English-speaking world, patent medicines are as old as journalism. The marketing of patent medicine formulas fueled the circulation of early newspapers. Newspaper and magazine advertising helped spread the word of these nostrums to the country's most remote corners.

Advertising for patent medicines was not limited to newspapers and almanacs. Printed broadsides were major sources of commercial information. Early broadsides dealt with epidemics, providing suggestions to prevent the spread of diseases. In the early 18th century broadside advertisements by druggists and apothecaries began to surface, usually in the form of product lists offered for sale. Later, broadsides with lengthier texts, describing the value of proprietary medicines and frequently joined by testimonials, accompanied these lists.

Trade cards were very popular in the Victorian era. They typically featured a very colorful, eye-catching picture with advertising slogans on the front side, and full advertising text (and sometimes testimonials) on the back. Varying from funny to risqué, trade cards immediately became popular collectors’ items.

Here are some billhead examples. Interestingly, when the public was finally informed of the "quack" nature of these patent medicines, the companies that made them started selling sundries and soap goods.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Oyster Billheads

Another popular collecting area for billheads is that of oyster companies. I particularly like these billheads as they tend to be elaborate and decorative. The names of the oyster brands are also funny and interesting. Oysters became popular in 19th century America with the rise of oyster houses, oyster parties and oyster cookbooks. As Easterners settled westward, they took their love of oysteers with them. In his Life and Liberty in America, Charles McKay stated that: "The rich consume oysters and Champagne ; the poorer classes consume oysters and lager bier, and that is one of the principal social differences between the two sections of the community." The meet the western demand, oysters were shipped via stagecoach on the "Oyster Line" between Baltimore to Ohio, then via the Erie Canal. Read more on the popularity of the oysters here.

Below are some examples of oyster billheads.

Monday, March 23, 2009

UK Billheads - 2 sellers with excellent items

There are several sellers on ebay UK that have some nice billheads. I wanted to highlight two of those folks as I think they have some of the nicest stuff out there. I have recently bought a couple of billheads from one of these dealers. When I get them in the mail I will post them for you to see.

The first seller is ephemerafly - great, great billheads - lots of nice early ones too. I check back regularly to see what they have. Also usually has nice early examples of trade cards.
Here are a couple of items ephemerafly has for sale now:
Next is the seller K9pud. I have not yet bought anything from this seller, but I have had my eye on one item that I hope to soon buy. Here are some nice examples from this seller:

Newspaper / Journal Billheads

Another interesting collecting area for billheads, and one that has a lot of options, is collecting billheads for newspapers or journals. Usually the illustration on these billheads is that of a printing press or printer - store fronts are also popular. Along with doctor and hotel billheads, these use the term "to" instead of "bought of". My favorite of the examples below is the Parsons billhead (last one).

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Brewery Billheads

Brewery billheads can bring premium prices. In my hunt for billheads, I have yet to come across one. There is a seller on ebay dmephemera that was quite a few buy it now available. I have pictured some of the seller's items below. Living in Wisconsin you would think I would run into beer billheads - another trip to the Northern Wisconsin paper heaven is in store maybe next weekend. Maybe I will find some - if not, I know I will find some other goodies.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Bills of Lading - Canals

Here are some examples for canal bill of ladings. The first one is for Eddy & Bradley's Line via canal boat for Whitehall dated 1851. Very plain bol.Next up is an example for Jackman & Sherman on board the canal boat "Martha" via D. Bradley's New York, Boston & Western Line dated 1855.
The last example has a nice illustration of a boat and is for George Cochran of Pittsburgh.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Part III - Bill of Ladings - Railroads

Here are some examples for railroad billheads - obviously most have train graphics on them.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Receipts - Bills of Lading Part II - Steamships

Typically, each steamship company issued their own bill of lading, sometimes modified for by conditions or customs at the port of destination. Many bear illustrations of the steamships in the left hand margin. Bill of ladings are great historical documents showing what is being shipped. If your interest trends to financial ephemera (as mine does) or transportation ephemera, these are a great collectible area to consider.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Receipts - Bills of Lading Part I

From Rickards The Encyclopedia of Ephemera (a must have for ephemera collectors): A bill of lading (BOL) is a term commonly used for a statement of goods loaded for transportation on sea, land or air freight. The document itemizes the goods to be carried and names the the carrier and the places in between where the journey is made. In effect it is a receipt by which the carrier takes responsibility for the goods listed and their safe delivery. The BOL is one of the earliest maritime documents.

Style: The BOL in its earliest form typically appears as a printed blank, landscape in format, often bearing an engraved illustration or large decorative initial and having a broad left hand margin. Spaces are left in the body of the text for inseration of details. The document usually opens with the words "Shipped in good order and well conditioned," with the opening word being stressed typographically or by decorative embellishment. The wording in early billheads make frequent reference to God with a prayer for safe arrival.

Below are two early examples that I picked up cheap on ebay UK.

The first example is from 1823 for Genoa. Note the engraved illustration on the lef hand side, the landscape format and the manuscripted writing. I losely translated it and it does refer to God and safe travels. This next example is from 1763, Italian again in Chiavenna. Note the decorative initials on the left hand side. This also asks God to deliver the packages safely


Part II - American steamship examples.
Part III - Railroad examples.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Part IV - Wetherill Billhead

I was searching through Live Auctioneers the other day and came upon a lithograph sold by William Reese of the store front of the Wetherill firm. Really neat. Thought I would share it with you.