Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Vintage Trade Advertisements

The "Scheaffer Lifetime Pencil" advertising blotter

My personal collections of ephemera and collectables includes quite a number of attractive vintage trade advertisements dating back as far as the late Victorian and Edwardian eras. These also include a number of advertising 'giveaways' for existing or potential customers. But what mainly sets these old advertisements or product labels apart is that the majority are in vibrant colour or at the very minimum have a visually interesting artistic element to them. A following Blog will feature equally colourful vintage product and service labels. Click on images for a larger view.

Vicenzo (or Vincenzo) Almao, Wholesale and Retail
Hat and Cap Manufacturer and Importer, Dee Street, 
Invercargill, pre 1894. (see below for reverse side)

Vicenzo Almao, Wholesale and Retail Hat
and Cap 
Manufacturer and Importer,
Dee Street, Invercargill, pre 1894

With the advent of colour lithographic and halftone printing from the 1870's, these colourful trade advertisements became economically viable to mass produce at a minimal cost. Collecting such items became a favourite pastime for children and whole albums would be filled with advertising fliers and cards.

Big Tree Motor Spirit blotter

My vintage trade advertisements include small and colourful advertising fliers, cards, ink blotters, free trade magazines, postcards, and small free gifts which, besides advertising a product, additionally served a useful purpose as well. All items are from my own collections. I trust you enjoy viewing this decidedly eclectic collection.

A Wax Vesta case advertising Aitken's Beer,
James Aitken & Co. Ltd, Falkirk, Scotland.
The image shows their factory in Falkirk. 

A (still full) Wax Vesta Case advertising
"Aitken's Pale Ale", 
James Aitken & 
Co. Ltd, of Falkirk, Scotland 

The Invercargill Post Office Clock Chime.
An advertising card for "W. Nicol & Son", Watch & Clockmakers,
Atheneum Building, Dee Street, Invercargill

J. Bibby & Sons, 1898.
Stock Feed & Soap Manufacturer, Liverpool 

Women's Compact style Mirror,
The "DIDO Umbrella Company", Glasgow,
both dated circa 1910

"Cross" Power Kerosine blotter

A 1908 postcard referring to the famous Gingerbread made
in Strathaven, Lanarkshire, Scotland. The earliest confirmed
 reference I have found to Stra'ven Gingerbread is 1812! 

A blotter from "Macalister & Co.",
Prescription Chemists, Dee Street, Invercargill

"The New Rega Oracle Butterfly".
A Novelty Gift from Thomson & Beatties
Department Store, Tay Street, Invercargill.
(The "butterfly" is shown below)

"The New Rega Oracle Butterfly". 
A Novelty Gift from Thomson & Beatties 
Department Store, Tay Street, Invercargill.
You place the butterfly in your palm and
the way it curls is then compared with the
numbered list shown above.

Advertising Trade Card from the North British Locomotive
Company Ltd. of Glasgow. The locomotive
 is a New Zealand "AB" class. 

Note : My apologies that the quality of the image is fairly poor but this card is no longer in my possession. I had always thought it was interesting that the North British Locomotive Company could supply a 'stock' locomotive based on New Zealand Government Railways (copyrighted?) drawings and specifications for the 'AB' class. Simply cable "ARGLISTIGE" to order a new locomotive! Some years ago I donated this card, which I had bought in England, to the former group restoring the North British built "AB745". This locomotive is now owned by the Rimutaka Incline Railway who intend restoring it to working order when resources allow. 

J. Bibby & Sons, 1898. 
Stock Feed & Soap Manufacturer, Liverpool

"Shell" Motor Oil Co. of New Zealand Ltd. blotter

J. Bibby & Sons, 1898. 
Stock Feed & Soap Manufacturer, Liverpool

"20 years Hard Labour" blotter,
The Otago Farmers' Union Mutual
Fire Insurance Association, NZ

Please Note : All Items (unless otherwise stated) are originals from my own collections and may be freely copied provided this page is acknowledged. Thank you.


  1. I like "Vicenzo Almao, Wholesale and Retail Hat and Cap Manufacturer and Importer" best of all (pre 1894). The colours are few and strong, and the front side of the label is not cluttered with writing. People can get all the information they need from the other side.

    1. Yes, it is lovely. It obviously appealed to my Great Great Aunt too as she kept it.

  2. So thrilled to have found your website and to discover the section on vintage advertisements...the ad for Vincenzo Almao is of greatest interest as he was my great grandfather...my mother's grandfather.
    I write to enquire as to how I might get a copy of the advert back and front..would that be possible? Naturally I would pay fir any expenses incurred:). Look forward to your comment:). Thanking you....Kathryn Weston-Arnold

    1. Hi Kathryn, Am delighted that you found this items as I know how significant family items are. If you can send your email address to em66nz[at]hotmail.com I will be able to email you copies of the original full resolution scans which you can print off if desired. Thanks, Donald


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