Archive for September 13th, 2010

History in the small ads

13 September 2010

By Juliana Adelman
No one interested in cultural, or indeed economic, history will doubt the wealth of material that can be gleaned from advertisements.  Newspapers are of course the most abundant source of ads, but I have often found fantastic information about a book publisher’s catalogue or a book store’s stock from magazine covers and wrappings.  Recently a history book on the personal ad has made a bit of a splash (Classified: the secret history of the personal column by, I kid you not, H. G. Cocks).  American PhD student Pam Epstein has blogged some of the nineteenth-century ads that she is using for her research.

At the moment I am reading the Irish Sportsman in an effort to get my head around the market for various animals (especially horses) as well as attitudes to different animal sports.  I have found classified ads to be the most interesting and useful portion of the paper.  In fact, they comprise about 50% of the content.  I now know the average price of having your mare serviced by a stallion in 1880 (about £7 plus 5s for the groom and fees for feed), that pet otters were not uncommon and that dog owners were willing to pay £25 rewards for the return of lost or stolen pets.   Read More