I love old newspapers, so I was excited to find a stack of 1938 Advertisers in a trunk in one of the many outbuildings (even though they were covered in dust, nibbled by mice and accompanied by a resident white-tip spider). There is something so precious about holding original newspapers in your hand (gloved hands, in my case, after the appearance of the white-tip). Unfortunately, many were too badly damaged to save, but I dusted, photographed and preserved what I could.
The stories aren’t the most riveting read... ‘Housewives can Learn Much From The Chimney Sweep,’ ‘A Strawberry Tragedy’ (spoiler alert - it was grasshoppers!) and ‘Yodelling Dog at York Theatre’ are about as exciting as they get.
But the adverts are a fascinating insight into how women were treated by the media in the 1930s...
‘I invested a few pennies…and won a husband’ - Apparently, the subtle words of a future mother-in-law and some lifebuoy soap is all you need to find marital bliss in 1938.
And women must be careful not to be ‘Hired,’ ‘admired’ and fired’ as poor Ann was – no girl who offends with underarm odour succeeds in her job or with men…???
But there is hope for us females. In addition to lifebuoy soap and Mum deodorant, we can keep our figures youthful and trim with ‘Bile beans.’
I have never heard of this life-changing product. The name bile-beans doesn’t sound that appetising, but that probably means they are good for you–after all, they are purely vegetable, tone up the system and eliminate food residue. A quick google search to find out where I can purchase this amazing product (who needs to detox when bile beans do it all), and I discover that this is probably one of the biggest marketing scams of the century. These vegetable beans made up of ‘a special formula by an Australian chemist using a vegetable source known only to Aboriginals’ are actually a mix of liquorice, menthol and rhubarb by a Canadian ex-pat with no chemistry background! Somehow, using this type of advertising, they managed to sell this fraudulent product from 1897 until 1980 (despite numerous lawsuits)! When the original founder died in the early 1900s, he had already amassed a fortune equivalent to over a hundred million pounds today. The power of advertising!
I am looking forward to exploring the pile of magazines I have found next (I mean, it beats painting, cleaning, clearing and the other thousand jobs I should be doing!)