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Spats!

Up until the 1920s, men (and occasionally) women used to wear spats as ankle guards to protect against mud and rain. They fell out of fashion when city streets became mostly paved.

Spats were still common enough in 1927 that the March 15 1927 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained two ads that mentioned them.

The first was an ad for a dry cleaners and dye works:

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Parker’s Cleaners still exists today in Toronto (I’m assuming that it’s the same firm).

The second ad was for a cleaning fluid:

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Carbona cleaning products still exist today too. I first heard of them when I heard The Ramones’ Carbona Not Glue.

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Blasphemous libel

The March 15 1927 edition of the Toronto Daily Star led with this article about a man who was convicted of blasphemous libel (the article is long, so I had to slice it into multiple parts):

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Some of the statements put forward by the presiding judge and the prosecuting Crown Attorney would seem startlingly out of place in our more secular modern society.

I looked up the following day’s paper: Mr. Sterry was sentenced to sixty days in jail and deportation to England (which apparently he welcomed). He was already serving a four-month term plus an indeterminate term of six months at the Ontario Reformatory for stealing $200 from a man named Joseph Ying; this sentence was tacked on to the end of that one.

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Hearing for the deaf in 1927

The May 21 1927 edition of the Toronto Globe contained two separate ads for products that claimed to allow the deaf to hear.

The first was what today we would call hardware-related:

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The Phonophor appears to have been manufactured by Siemens. In 1927, the Dictograph Products Corporation was at 11 Wellington Street East; by 1932, they had moved across the street to 9 Wellington West. By 1935, they were no more.

The second option for the deaf involved a patent medicine:

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Catarrhozone appears to have been an inhaler. It apparently not only cured deafness, but overcame a variety of other diseases! It was manufactured by the Catarrhozone Company of Montreal. A search turned up:

  • A booklet of recipes and ads for patent medicines, including Catarrh-o-zone (as it was called in the booklet).
  • A photograph of a Catarrhozone box, which looks to be from the 19th century.
  • A Catarrhozone almanac.
  • Catarrhozone annuals from 1905 and 1909.
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Marketing Ovaltine

While collecting newspaper ads and articles, I’ve noticed a whole bunch of ads for Ovaltine, which Wikipedia calls a “brand of milk flavoring product made with malt extract.” However, the makers of Ovaltine have never been sure how to market it. They’ve tried just about everything.

In the July 7 1923 Toronto Globe, they marketed Ovaltine as a sleep aid:

1923 July 7 Globe

In the September 19 1925 Toronto Globe, they marketed it as a “pick-up” for listless office workers.

1925 Sep 19 Globe

The September 7 1927 Toronto Globe praised it as a sustaining tonic that helped distance swimmer Georges Michel make it across the English Channel. It was apparently his only nourishment during the ordeal.

1927 Sep 7 Globe

The October 1 1928 Toronto Daily Star included “a message of national importance”, offering health for all at lower cost:

1928 Oct 1 Star

Sixteen days later, in the October 17 1928 Toronto Daily Star, they recommended heating Ovaltine to relieve afternoon fatigue:

1928 Oct 17 Star

During the midst of an influenza epidemic, the December 22 1928 Toronto Globe stated that Ovaltine could protect you from the flu:

1928 Dec 22 Globe

In the April 20 1929 Toronto Globe, they were back to marketing Ovaltine as a cure for sleeplessness:

1929 Apr 20 Globe

And, the February 25 1930 Toronto Daily Star suggested that it was a delicious and healthful beverage after an evening of bridge.

1930 Feb 25 Star

This was the end of what you might call The Golden Age of Ovaltine. I found some Ovaltine ads much later, in the 1940s and 1950s – by then, they had settled on their niche, which was that Ovaltine was a useful supplement for babies and small children. From the June 8 1943 Toronto Daily Star:

1943 Jun 8 Star

And from the March 25 1947 Toronto Daily Star:

1947 Mar 25 Star

And, finally, from the February 2 1950 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:

1950 Feb 2 Star

This ad also mentions that Ovaltine can maintain the mother’s health and strength. Or perhaps stave off sleeplessness. Or whatever.

Throughout the years, Ovaltine was always marketed by A. Wander, Limited, first located in Toronto and then in Peterborough. I think I would have liked to sit in on one of their marketing strategy meetings.

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Creepy Kruschen people

So far, I have run across four ads for Kruschen Salts, and the people in them all look really creepy.

The first one is from the August 21 1923 Toronto Daily Star:

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That old guy in the water looks happy, but he looks a bit strange, as if he is on uppers or something. But he’s normal-looking when compared to the older guy in ad in the September 27 1927 Toronto Daily Star:

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The young man is in despair because he wants the creepy old guy to go away. In this ad, I notice that the sole importer of Kruschen Salts has changed. Perhaps they just found a Toronto distributor as well as a Montreal one.

Next, we have an ad from the November 21 1932 Toronto Daily Star:

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This “wonderfully active” 66-year-old woman (Mrs. E. W.) looks a bit more normal, except for those eyes: once again, she looks like she’s high on amphetamines or something. It’s deeply disturbing.

The last one is from the March 31, 1931 edition of the Toronto Daily Star, and I think it’s the creepiest one of all:

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Oh my God, the zombies are attacking! Run before it’s too late!

I couldn’t find out much about Kruschen Salts, other than it has been around for a while. A British site mentions that it first went on sale in 1922. One of the ads here claims that Kruschen Salts contains six salts, but the drugs.com website lists only sodium chloride as its current active ingredient.

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Soap ads from 1927

The September 27 1927 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained three different ads for soap.

The first one was geared for more garden-variety use, as it was recommended by the “Medical Profession”:

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There is a Wikipedia page for Wright’s Coal Tar Soap. It was first manufactured in 1860, and was originally known as Sapo Carbonis Detergens (you can see that name on the label in the ad). The soap still exists, but no longer contains coal tar, as the European Union has banned its use in non-prescription products.

Ad #2 was for Lux Toilet Soap, and pitched it as a more upmarket product:

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An exquisite new toiletrie! Lux soap was the first mass-market soap in the world, first offered for sale in 1925. It was created by Unilever, who still manufactures it.

The third and final ad was for people who wanted to keep their schoolgirl complexion:

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Palmolive is still around today, of course.

Vilma Bánky (1901-1991) was a Hungarian-born silent film actress who starred opposite Rudolph Valentino and Ronald Colman, among others. She left the business in the early 1930s after she married actor Rod La Rocque. Sadly, no one came to visit her in her final years, so she directed her lawyer to make no mention of her death, which was not announced until 1992.

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Lazy digestive organs

When looking at old newspapers, I’ve determined that constipation was more of a problem ages ago than it is now. For instance, here’s an ad from the September 28 1927 Globe:

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Exercise those bowel muscles and make them strong!

The only references I could find to Tillson’s Natural Bran on the Internet were to other ads from 1920s publications.

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Chicken rustlers

From the September 28 1927 Toronto Globe:

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So if I read this correctly, two men stole 70 chickens and four ducks from farms in Brantford and Woodstock, and then drove all the way to St. Lawrence Market in Toronto, in a 1927 vehicle, with all 74 fowl in the vehicle with them? That was a tremendous, albeit criminal, achievement.