Mad for Vintage Ads: Money, Money, Money!

We decided it was time for the second installment of vintage ads; we’ve given you a couple of months to recover from the first post.  This week’s theme is making money, which seems as pertinent today as 60 years ago!  The housewives of the 1950’s were a little more restricted than their liberated sistahs in the 21st century, which might explain some of these money-making schemes.

There is so much wrong with this first “opportunity”:

Do you mail it in a box?Let’s just start from an ethical viewpoint–they’ll ship you a real, live dog, that you’re encouraged to keep in a shoebox (or your pocket), at practically no cost!  Do they plan on poking lots of holes in the shipping box so your reward for passing out coupons to your family and friends, is still “active and healthy” after it arrives from Des Moines?  Or maybe they think the postman will carry these little guys in their pockets or handy coffee cups.  As an aside, I’m not sure a Chihuahua qualifies as earning money; mine is more of a financial sinkhole, as sweet as she is.  It’s hard to believe that passing out 20 coupons for photo enlargement would pay for a dog, plus a hand-tinted enlargement of your own picture.  Doing a little search on the internet gave me the additional information that Dean’s Studios also did promotions in comic books and offered miniature monkeys too!  You should click on the links; evidently I’m not the only person fascinated and horrified by this offer.

Okay, if you don’t want a Chihuahua or miniature monkey, how about these ideas?

Gee, I can make money from sea shells and bow tiesThe ad on the upper right advertises “shell craft” which caught my eye right away.  Do you think that instead of being vacation tchotchkes, some of our sea shell finds could have been crafted right here in the USA?  The ad reads, “Sell for BIG PROFITS!  Markets everywhere”.  The National Shellcraft School in St. Petersberg FL has an “earn as you learn plan” and will teach you to make shell jewelry, lamps, and novelties.  The only crazier idea is to make bow ties and sell them “for 100% profit”.  Honestly, are these people the equivalent of the Underpants Gnomes from South Park?  The Gnomes’ business plan (just in case you aren’t familiar with the episode) was :

  1. Collect Underpants
  2. ?
  3. Profit

Makes almost as much sense to me.  On the other hand, the ad on the left for metal craft and jewelry making seems much more reasonable.  Wish I could jump in a time machine and get my free booklet, and special low-cost tools and materials.  Some fabulous beads from the 1950’s would be wonderful!

The most popular scheme is selling cards out of your home.  There were several versions:

Sell cards and buy a car Wonder what Hallmark thinks of this? These two ads make it seem all so easy.  No regular hours, no experience, and just as easy as borrowing a cup of sugar!  You can make all the money needed for a merry Christmas.

These next two ads are a twist on the easy-as-pie message of the first two ads:

You must be smart to sell our cards  Art Linkletter sells Christmas cards
The ad on the right features a celebrity endorsement; Art Linkletter wouldn’t steer you wrong!  Read Art’s letter, and let him tell you how to make $25 to $250 in your spare time.  He assures us that, “Aside from the good money in it, I understand that women enjoy the chance it gives them to get out and see folks, the feeling of being of service to others, and the big savings on their own needs”.  Oh Art, you smooth talker; you sure understand us women!  The ad on the left uses a puzzle to convince readers that they have “active minds” and can “make spare-time money easily and quickly”.  Flattery will get you anywhere!

You could also sell novelty items such as:

These busy poodles sell themselvesHow could anyone resist a poodle that ” Holds Letters • Opens Mail • Signs Letters • Seals Envelopes • Can Measure, Too!”.  The Poodle Pal is a “Goldmine” which is hard to figure when you pay $8.40 for a dozen.  It’s a hard sell to convince anyone that a 5.5″  ceramic poodle will solve all their postal needs.

If the Poodle Pal isn’t your idea of a trip to Easy Street, the North Star company has you covered with their “685 Money Makers That Sell Themselves”:

Novelty items =cashThey seem to specialize in all sorts of “handy gadgets”, novelty pencil sharpeners/tape dispensers, and salt and pepper shakers.  We are invited to “watch women exclaim over items like this wrought iron Knick Knack bar”.  These women need to get out more, maybe they should sell cards.

Women were also encouraged to make “fabulous profits” by purchasing kits and making Christmas crafts:

They'll sell themselves We are again assured that these craft projects will “sell themselves”.  Who could resist a “charmingly different” wonder-rubber corsage or “easy to make, sells on sight” doll?  If corsages and dolls aren’t your thing, try the “liquid plastic poinsettia kit … make up your own realistic poinsettia flowers and leaves”.  Or perhaps you’re more of a “Maline Xmas Tree” crafter, choosing from white, pink, or green netting.  The money will pour in, no worries.  As a side note, Kathy and I are amused by those holiday corsages made from Christmas decorations and pipe cleaners; we haven’t run into any of the wonder-rubber variety, thank goodness.

If all of these money-making ideas seem a little shaky, you could start a real, honest career, as these women have:

Learn nursing at home in 12 weeksYou could “Earn Big Money” in just 12 weeks by training at home to become a “graduate practical nurse”.  A high school diploma isn’t needed, just “Earn by learning by this doctor-approved low cost method”.  That last sentence has convinced me that the quality of the “learning” provided by the Lincoln School of Practical Nursing might not be the highest.

Not crazy enough to become a nurse at home?  Maybe Mrs. Jacqueline Coody’s recommendation is for you:

A woman of many responsibilities Mrs. Coody says,  “Despite the responsibilities of a husband, children, and a full-time job, I easily mastered Speedwriting shorthand”.  Makes me wonder what are the responsibilities entailed by having a husband?  I kind of get the idea that if you can’t manage to learn shorthand in your copious free time, Mrs. Jacqueline Coody wouldn’t have much use for you!

If nursing or shorthand seem like too difficult of career paths, why don’t you try:

It's two jobs in one!You can “Earn BIG MONEY in a Refined Profession” also known as “the fascinating profession of corsetry”.  You are told to give “private demonstrations” of their product line, and you could earn $5-$6 for each “fitting consultation”.  I get the privacy concerns; if you’re going to wrestle a woman into a corset, you sure wouldn’t want to do it out in public.  I’m not sure that $5 would be enough compensation though.  I do like the word “corsetry”; much more refined than the words “girdle” or “Spanx”!

I’m more interested in the invisible reweaving ad right below the corsets.  You can make $5 in a half hour, which would probably be faster and far less exhausting than the “fitting consultations”.

There were a few more ads for jobs such as writing paragraphs, “you don’t have to be a trained author”, and upholstery, “approved for Korean veterans”  that made me smile, but this post is long enough.  Thanks for reading, and be on the look out for a regular post next week.

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8 Responses to Mad for Vintage Ads: Money, Money, Money!

  1. tkarengold says:

    The world has changed so rapidly. My favorite part is the one that gets housewives out of the house.

    • kathydeb says:

      Yeah, it’s a whole different world from the 1950’s. If I hadn’t been alive for the end of that era, I might never have believed that people actually talked about women that way!

  2. Connie says:

    Wow… who needs college when you become a ‘graduate practical nurse’ in just 12 weeks? Heck, think of how many degrees you could earn in year? I feel like such a slacker for being in college for 4 years earning my bachelor’s degree.

    • kathydeb says:

      Yeah, but would you want her taking care of your loved ones? Maybe it’s a reflection on how far the LPN skill set has come in the last 60 years, but yes but earning you practical nursing certificate in 12 weeks at home was horrifying!

  3. Connie says:

    My serious response is, “Heck no!”, but the snarky side of me has this reply, “Depends on which family member.”

  4. Thanks for this post. I found it while looking for information on Leon Wolff, who wrote an important book about the 1899-1902 U.S. war in the Philippines. But his day job was being the founder of the apparently questionable Lincoln School of Practical Nursing!

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