Adverts From Our Archive

Something that I’ve noticed from visits to our Archive is that we carry many more stories per issue now than we did in our early days. And they’re much more legible, too – a tiny typeface seems to have been the norm back in the day!

What’s also become apparent is – surprisingly – not how much things have changed, but how much they’ve stayed the same, and nowhere is this more obvious than in the ads we’ve carried.

Ads from the First World War years are for products which are remarkably similar to those sold today. Rankin’s Head Ointment promised to rid readers of ‘The School Scourge’ – nits! Nimrod’s Cure for Asthma gave ‘instant relief from catarrh, ordinary colds and asthmatic troubles’.

“Tiz” for Aching, Sore, Tired Feet claimed to be ‘grand for puffed-up, tender perspiring feet, burning corns and chilblains’, and a Liberty Bodice would provide ‘entire freedom of movement with the right amount of support’.  And colds would quickly vanish when ‘Vapex Inhalant’ was on your handkerchief.

The Test Of Time

Like the “Friend”, some products have stood the test of time. Bird’s Nutritious Custard was advertised as “the best use for a pint of milk” – great ‘for war-time puddings’. Atora Beef Suet was so sought-after in May, 1918 that they couldn’t make enough to meet demand. And 100 years ago, Nestle’s Milk and Robinson’s Barley Water were regular advertisers in the “Friend”.

Hall’s Wine offered relief from nerves, worry and overwork. Valentine’s Extract (Walnut Stain) allowed users to ‘easily avoid that most disquieting sign of age – grey hair’. And a box of My Fat Cure was free to any lady to try – with the cost of 5/- only payable on satisfaction.

Superfluous Hair Remover, remedies for digestive troubles, and cures for blushing were all also available by mail order. And S.E. Hackett of July Road, Liverpool, could provide photo postcards of yourself for 1/3 a dozen – a selfie, in the days before selfies!

“Worth A Guinea A Box”

Finally, Beechams Pills – invented by the grandfather of conductor Sir Thomas Beecham – promised ‘bright eyes and a lively manner’ for 1s 3d. Their catchphrase, Worth A Guinea A Box, brought back happy memories for me, as it was one of my Grandma’s favourite sayings – she was always telling us we were worth a guinea a box. Happy days!

Lucy Crichton

Fiction Editor Lucy is always on the look-out for the very best short stories, poems and pocket novels. As well as sourcing enjoyable content, she enjoys working with our established contributors, encouraging new talent, and celebrating 155 years of 'Friend' fiction!