« AnteriorContinuar »
T seems indeed singular that we are obliged to regard advertising as a comparatively modern institution; for, as will be shown in the progress of this work, the first advertisement which can be depended upon as being what it appears to be was, so far as can be discovered, published not much more than two hundred years ago. But though we cannot find any instances of business notices appearing in papers before the middle of the seventeenth century, mainly because there were not, so far as our knowledge goes, papers in which to advertise, there is little doubt that the desire among tradesmen and merchants to make good their wares has had an existence almost as long as the customs of buying and selling, and it is but natural to suppose that advertisements in some shape or form have existed not only from time immemorial, but almost for all time. Signs over shops and stalls seem naturally to have been the first efforts in the direction of advertisements, and they go back to the remotest portions of the world's history. Public notices also were posted about in the first days of the children of Israel, the utterances of the kings and prophets being inscribed on parchments and exposed in the high places of the cities. It was also customary, early in the Christian era, for a scroll to be exhibited when any of the Passion or other sacred plays were about to be performed, and comparatively recently we have received positive intelligence that in Pompeii and similar places advertising by means of signs and inscriptions was quite common. The “History of Signboards,” a very exhaustive and valuable book, quotes Aristotle, and refers to Lucian, Aristophanes, and others, in proof of the fact that signboard advertisements were used in ancient Greece, but the information is extremely vague. Of the Romans, however, more is known. Some streets were with them known by means of signs. The book referred to tells us that the bush, the Romans’ tavern sign, gave rise to the proverb, “Vino vendibili suspensa hedera non opus est;” and hence we derive our own sign of the bush, and our proverb, “Good wine needs no bush.” An amsa or handle of a pitcher was then the sign of a pothouse, and hence establishments of this kind were afterwards denominated ansac. A correspondent writing to Motes and Queries, in answer to a question in reference to early advertising, says that the mode adopted by the Hebrews appears to have been chiefly by word of mouth, not by writing. Hence the Hebrew word kara signifies to cry aloud, and to announce or make known publicly (xngüggin); and the announcement or proclamation, as a matter of course, was usually made in the streets and chief places of concourse. The matters thus proclaimed were chiefly of a sacred kind, as might be expected under a theocracy; and we have no evidence that secular affairs were made the subject of similar announcements. In one instance, indeed (Isa. xiii. 3), kara has been supposed to signify the calling out of troops; but this may be doubted. The Greeks came a step nearer to our idea of advertising, for they made their public announcements by writing as well as orally. For announcement by word of mouth they had their xàová, who, with various offices besides, combined that of public crier. His duties as crier appear to have been restricted, with few exceptions, to state announcements and to great occasions. He gave notice, however, of sales. For the publication of their laws the Greeks employed various kinds of tablets, orwaxec, čovsc, xú68sug. On these the laws were written, to be displayed for public inspection. The Romans largely advertised private as well as public matters, and by writing as well as by word of mouth. They had their praecomes, or criers, who not only had their public duties, but announced the times, places, and conditions of sales, and cried things lost. Hawkers cried their own goods. Thus Cicero speaks of one who cried figs, Cauneas clamitabat (De Divin. ii. 40). But the Romans also advertised, in a stricter sense of the term, by writing. The bills were called libelli, and were used for advertising sales of estates, for absconded debtors, and for things lost or found. The advertisements were often written on tablets (tabel/ae), which were affixed to pillars (pila columnae). On the walls of Pompeii have been discovered various advertisements. There will be a dedication or formal opening of certain baths. The company attending are promised slaughter of wild beasts, athletic games, perfumed sprinkling, and awnings to keep off the sun (venatia, athletae, sparsiones, vela).” One other mode of public announcement employed by the Romans should be mentioned, and that was by signs suspended or painted on the wall. Thus a suspended shield served as the sign of a tavern (Quintil. vi. 3), and nuisances were prohibited by the painting of two sacred serpents. Among the French, advertising appears to have become very general towards the close of the sixteenth century. In particular, placards attacking private character had, in consequence of the religious wars, become so numerous and outrageous, that subsequently, in 1652, the Government found it necessary to interpose for their repression.t Speaking of the signs of Herculaneum and Pompeii, the
* The opening notice of the baths at Pompeii was almost perfect when discovered, and originally read thus:–“Dedicatone . Thermarum . Muneris . Cnaei . Allei. Nigidii. Maii. Venalio. Athelae. Sparsiones. Vela. Erunt. Maio. Principi. Coloniae. Feliciter.”
+ Motes and Queries, vol. xi., 3d series.
“History of Signboards” says that a few were painted, but, as a rule, they appear to have been made of stone, or terra cotta relievo, and set into the pilasters at the sides of the open shop fronts. Thus there have been found a goat, the sign of a dairy, and a mule driving a mill, the sign of a baker. At the door of a school was the highly suggestive and not particularly pleasant sign to pupils of a boy being birched. Like to our own signs of two brewers carrying a tun slung on a pole, a Pompeian publican had two slaves represented above his door carrying an amphora, and another dispenser of drink had a painting of Bacchus pressing a bunch of grapes. At a perfumer's shop in the street of Mercury were represented various items of that profession, notably four men carrying a box with vases of perfume, and men laying out and perfuming a corpse. There was also a sign of the Two Gladiators, under which, in the usual Pompeian cacography, was the following:—“Abiam venerem Pompeiianama iradam qui hoc laeserit.” Besides these were the signs of the Anchor, the Ship (possibly a ship-chandler's), a sort of a Cross, the Chequers, the Phallus on a baker's shop, with the words, “Hic habitat felicitas;” whilst in Herculaneum there was a very cleverly painted Amorino, or Cupid, carrying a pair of lady's shoes, one on his head and the other in his hand. It is also probable that the various artificers of Rome used their tools as signs over their workshops and residences, as it is found that they were sculptured on their tombs in the catacombs. On the tombstone of Diogenes, the gravedigger, there is a pickaxe and a lamp; Banto and Maxima have the tools of carpenters, a saw, an adze, and a chisel; Veneria, a tire-woman, has a mirror and a comb. There are others with wool-combers' implements; a physician has a cupping-glass ; a poulterer, a case of fowls; a surveyor, a measuring rule; a baker, a bushel measure, a millstone, and some ears of corn; and other signs are numerous on the graves of the departed. Even the modern custom of