Authors & Cox

When looking up entries in Toronto city directories, I have frequently found listings for Authors & Cox, a firm that specialized in artificial limbs, trusses, belts, and other aids for injured or disabled people. In the February 22 1937 edition of the Toronto Daily Star, the company celebrated its 70th anniversary, making it slightly older than Canada itself:


They were in this location as late as 1945, but by 1950 had moved to 295 King Street West. They remained there until sometime between 1960 and 1965 – they do not appear in the 1965 city directory.


Christmas in 1939

War had broken out in 1939, but the December 13 issue of the Toronto Daily Star was still full of the usual Christmas gift ideas. They ranged from the frivolous to the extremely practical.

You could give heirloom jewelry:


If your loved one was feeling nostalgic about their alma mater, you could give school insignia jewelry.


Birks-Ellis-Ryrie also claimed to offer gifts to “thrill the feminine heart”:


I suppose this is better than attempting to thrill the feminine liver or pancreas. If jewelry wasn’t appealing, you could try bags or “gay pullovers”:



Or you could go all-out and buy a fur:


There were also gifts intended to appeal to men. For example, what could be more practical than shoes?


And what could be more masculine than cigars?


And, if not cigars, how about cigarettes?


This ad does not show that Santa’s beard had undoubtedly been turned yellow by tobacco smoke.

For something a little more intimate, how about a dressing gown?


Or you could go one step further and buy a pair of pyjamas that will last the rest of his life – what could possibly show a greater commitment than that?


But suppose you want to be strictly practical when you give your Christmas gift. How about an electric toaster?


Or the man of the house could be possibly a bit too practical and give his wife a new washing machine for Christmas:


I envision this as having been received somewhat frostily, even after hubby pointed out that it included a 12 year reconditioning guarantee. After all, Heintzman and Co. mostly specialized in pianos, not washing machines.


1939 variety show

The August 17 1939 Toronto Daily Star featured this ad for a variety show for the Star Fresh Air Fund.


Jessica Dragonette (1900-1980) sang on the radio from 1926 to 1947, and was voted radio’s most popular female vocalist in 1935. She was able to sing in six different languages.

Shirley Ross (1913-1975) was at the peak of her fame in 1939, as she had performed a duet with Bob Hope in The Big Broadcast of 1938. She was cast opposite either Hope or Bing Crosby a total of five times.


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.


The Silver Eagle

The February 20 1935 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this syndicated article about a young man who had built a combination boat/airplane, named the “Silver Eagle”, with which he hoped to cross the Atlantic Ocean. The article was less than sympathetic to the young inventor:


$25,000 was a lot of money in 1935 – it is equivalent to over $450,000 in 2018 dollars.

YouTube actually has footage of the Silver Eagle being launched. It doesn’t show the craft leaving the ground, but it does show that it can float.

I could find nothing else on the Silver Eagle or Paul Dudley, but his craft did not kill him, at least not right away. He lived long enough to get married and father a child – his son, a pastor, died in 2010.


High Park Mineral Baths

The May 20 1939 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this notice:


A Google search turned up a number of articles about the High Park Mineral Baths (nicknamed the “Minnies”). Torontoist and a Historic Toronto blog both provide a detailed history, and the Toronto Public Library has a number of photographs of the baths. BlogTO mentions the baths as part of an article on the history of High Park.

The baths were originally installed in 1913 as a part of the High Park Sanitarium, a facility that was affiliated with John Harvey Kellogg‘s Battle Creek Sanitarium. The sanitarium closed around 1922, but its owner, Dr. William McCormick, kept the mineral baths open. By 1924, they had expanded enough to host Olympic swimming and diving trials. The pools were closed in 1962 when part of their land was needed for the Bloor-Danforth subway.


Dr. Pierce’s Favorite Prescription

The March 31 1931 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contains this rather brief ad:


The modern lettering in the ad conceals the fact that Dr. Pierce’s Favorite Prescription is quite old – it was created by Ray Vaughn Pierce (1840-1914), a graduate of the Eclectic Medical College of Cincinnati and a member of the House of Representatives in 1879 and 1880. He was the author of The People’s Common Sense Medical Adviser (1888), which is available at both the Internet Archive and Project Gutenberg.

I found a number of articles on the Favorite Prescription:

  • The Skeptical Inquirer has an article about Pierce and his various patent medicines.
  • The Biofort blog has an article about the Favorite Prescription. It points out that some of the herbs in it could dampen sexual appetite and could also induce menstruation, thus serving as a way to induce abortions in pregnant women.
  • The National Museum of American History has a more recent bottle of the Favorite Prescription, which apparently dates from 1949.

The most interesting thing about Dr. Pierce’s Favorite Prescription (to me) was that The Ladies Home Journal analyzed it in 1902 and determined that its ingredients included alcohol, opium, and digitalis. Dr. Pierce sued the magazine for $200,000 and removed these ingredients from the product; when the magazine could not reproduce their initial sampling, they lost the suit and were forced to pay up.


Humanity uprooted

The March 31 1931 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this notice of an upcoming book serialization:


Maurice Hindus (1891-1969) was born in Belarus and moved to New York in 1905. He worked as an agricultural labourer and then earned a degree in literature in 1915. Humanity Uprooted was one of a series of books based on trips to Russia on behalf of Century Magazine. Some critics say that this book was overly sympathetic to or naive about Soviet Russia; presumably, this means that the gulags were never mentioned.

If you’re curious, Humanity Uprooted is available for download at the Internet Archive.


Real Folks

The October 11 1932 edition of the Toronto Daily Star has contained a whole lot of interesting stuff, so I’m back to it again today. Here’s an ad for a play being performed at Massey Hall:


Real Folks was the NBC network’s first radio serial drama, created and written by George Frame Brown (1896-1979). (Apparently, no known recordings of this show exist.) Like the play, the radio show centered on life in the fictitious town of Thompkins Corners.

The Wistful Vistas old-time radio blog describes the history of Real Folks in detail. The show went on the air in 1928, and left the air in 1932 after switching to the CBS network in 1931. The touring version of the play described in this ad didn’t sell well, and folded in Syracuse about two weeks after the Massey Hall shows; NBC had to step in to ensure that the actors got paid.



Sometimes, I run across an ad that is simply mystifying. Here’s one from the October 11 1932 edition of the Toronto Daily Star that occurs in three separate places:




A Google search for Re-Tex turned up nothing, as did any related searches that I could think of. The 1932 and 1933 Toronto city directories didn’t have anything either. Obviously, Re-Tex is something that is intended to appeal to women, but other than that I have no idea what is going on here.