Common types of “utilitarian” ads included thermometers, calendars, mirrors, and clocks, all of which bore a company’s brand name and image in some way or another.
With the onset of World War II, however, many of these signs were destroyed for the base metal they contained.
Their resulting rarity makes them attractive to collectors.
Alongside ads that were meant to be seen were ads that were meant to be used.
Coca-Cola, for one, realized that practical pieces of advertising would last much longer than signs and posters, which were routinely discarded.
On the other end of the size scale were celluloid pinbacks, cheap buttons that were meant to be worn and displayed.
Some companies distributed pinbacks to encourage newspaper subscriptions or the purchase of particular brands of cigarettes, while others were handed out at political rallies as campaign pieces.
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From colorful Victorian trade cards of the 1870s to the Super Bowl commercials of today, advertising has gone from a small component of everyday life to a ubiquitous presence.
Perhaps the most easily recognizable advertising medium of the late 19th and early 20th centuries is the porcelain sign.