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Things you would never know ...

September 12, 2009
By HOWARD RILEY

... about the year 1925, if I didn't tell you. An anonymous donor left four copies of National Geographic Magazine from February, April, August and October of 1925, on top of a paper recycling bin, and I was lucky enough to find them.

The in-depth news stories in the magazines are numerous and detailed with titles such as:

From England to India by Automobile; the MacMillan Arctic Expedition Sails; The Land of the Yellow Llama; Collearin' Cape Cod and The Mother of Rivers - The Great Columbia Ice Field of the Canadian Rockies - and many more. Rather than get into that text, I believe an examination of the advertisements tells the real history of that year.

Article Photos

There was a great classic car (and truck) parade and show in Lake Placid last Sunday and all the car buffs that attended and participated ought to enjoy this car advertisement. This Packard was driven 3,965 miles without shutting off the engine.
(Image from National Geographic Magazine – 1925)

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Brush your teeth

Some ads were pretty scary. Colgate was called ribbon dental cream, not toothpaste, and the ad covered the entire back page, one of the most expensive, next to inside the front cover, which advertised Tiffany & Co. Jewelers.

The Colgate ad claims the product removes causes of tooth decay, picturing a couple on the beach, with the woman smiling at the man. A strip adjacent, however, shows a woman in a wheelchair with one crutch and a nurse pushing the chair with a caption that reads: Bad Teeth May Bring Crippling Rheumatism - Son of A Gun!

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Cruise lines were big business

The World Cruises of United American Lines were advertising three-and-a-half-month trips leaving from L.A., San Francisco and New York. Some of the ports to be visited were in Japan, China, the Philippines, Java, India, Italy and Egypt, to mention only a few. The cost was $1500 and up, including shore excursions.

The Cunard and Anchor Lines had one of the best deals. Regular service from New York to Plymouth, Cherbourg, Southampton, London, Queenstown, Liverpool, Londonderry and Glasgow - Now are you ready for this - fares range from $130 and up!

The cruise line ads seem to be on every other page and the railroads were very big in advertising trips to our National Parks. The Santa Fe advertised these trips: The Grand Canyon and the Nava-hopi (sic) motor trip into the colorful Indian country with other trips to Yosemite, Yellowstone, Zion and most of the other National Parks. There were no prices listed but an address to send for rates and a picture folder of the trips.

The Northern Pacific had the best deal, advertising a round trip from Chicago to Yellowstone Park that reads: "The cost of the four-and-one-half day trip - $54 if you choose hotels or $45 via camps - meals, lodging, automobile sightseeing trips included."

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Some strange ads

The National Lead Company pushed the use of lead paint with this piece: "You can keep the wooden surfaces of your home safe from slow combustion, or rot, by keeping them covered with a constantly maintained film of lead paint that is impervious to air and moisture."

Believe it or not, decaf coffee was big in 1925. Maybe that is when it was first discovered but some ad guy or gal came up with a terrible name for the company - "Kaffee Hag." Here is a piece of this ad - "Science has found a way to take the caffeine out of coffee. We open the pores of the raw coffee bean and remove the caffeine alone. No flavor, no aroma is affected." Then there is a coupon to mail to Kaffee Hag in Cleveland, Ohio to receive 10 cups free.

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Full-page automobile ads

The most prolific ads were for cars, many full pages such as: Hudson Coach - five-passenger sedan - $1,795; the Wills-Knight sedan was reduced $200 but it does not give a listed price; the Chrysler Six cost $1,395 and Chrysler was producing 800 cars a day; no prices were listed for the Packard Six and Eight but both were "furnished in ten body types, open and enclosed." The Dodge Brothers advertised the special touring car apparently before they were part of Chrysler. The new Overland Six standard sedan was selling for $895 and the "all-steel four-cylinder touring car was only $495."

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GM?was always big

Here is an excerpt from a General Motors full page ad with a map included. "Sold in 126 Countries - used in all. General Motors combines in one family many large companies building automobiles and accessories. This makes it possible for General Motors to handle the foreign trade of all of them efficiently and at minimum expense. This important item in foreign trade is valuable to the economic life of the nation."

Well, we all know that is the way it used to be.

Correction: This column last week used stories from what I said was an original copy of the first edition of the LA Times in 1881. I'm sorry but it was not an original copy of the newspaper, it was a re-issue.

 
 

 

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