Early years

The newspaper where I work has one copy of every paper it’s published. One copy. It’s on microfilm, and it’s a fragile medium; half of the rolls are badly scratched, and the older ones are brittle. Most people consult them for the stories, but that’s only half the joy. The real news of the day, as it pertains to the lives of the people who bought the papers, were the ads. When I’m looking at the microfilm and I see an ad I like, I hit PRINT. These are some of the old curious ads, rescued from the dark coils.

These would seem to be tailor-made for the Institute of Official Cheer - so why are they hanging out here all by themselves? Well, there’s a variety of reasons. Not all of these are “amusing” in the sense that Institute sites are purportedly amusing. They’re just ads, taken from newspapers in the 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s. No real theme, no real purpose - just curiosities assembled from here and there in this very spare site. Enjoy.

-- Lileks Jan 13




I would like you to note that these ads are often in lousy state when I get them, etched with scratches from years of abuse. The film has been dragged through machines that scoured the pictures with hundreds of lines, each of which has to be removed individually. There's no automated way of touching them up, so I've spent time over the years adding digital wite-out when I was bored or needed a zen-like task.

Not all lines have been removed, because I'm not insane.



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