Early Years, 1750s–1850s
Advertising grew in a haphazard way. Created by printers, manufacturers, merchants, and a handful of local agents, advertising focused on the names of sellers and the quality of the product. Often plastered on buildings, ads turned public spaces into marketplaces.
1750s: Newspapers used advertising to pay for costs.
1830s–1840s: Newspapers paid agents to sell space for advertising.
1850s: Billposters and sign painters plastered cities with advertising.
1860s: Business consolidation, industrialization, and railroads laid the groundwork for national markets.
1860s: During the Civil War, Congress raised revenue by taxing newspaper advertising.
Where was advertising?
On buildings, fences, trade cards; in newspapers; and, near the end of this period, at the back of agricultural, religious, and fashion journals.
Who paid for advertising?
Merchants, shopkeepers, shipping companies, manufacturers, and producers of goods.
Who made advertising?
Printers created and placed ads in newspapers, printed handbills, and trade cards. Sign painters created advertising for merchants and shop owners. Agents bought space in newspapers and sold it to merchants and manufacturers.
Patent Medicine Pioneers, 1850s–1920s
Patent medicine makers developed branding techniques that linked their products to a personality—often themselves. Some of their pitches were based on time-honored approaches to healing that worked. Others made false promises. These dishonest pitches eroded consumer confidence, led to regulation, and pushed advertising agencies to distinguish themselves from hucksters and showmen.