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houses can doubt that it is sure. Proclamations, and suchlike official announcements, were probably the first specimens of street advertising, as we now understand the term ; but it was not until printing became general, and until the people became conversant with the mysteries of reading and writing, that posters and handbills were to any extent used. Mention is made in 1679 of a tradesman named Jonathan Holder, haberdasher, of the city of London, who gave to every purchaser to the extent of a guinea a printed list of the articles kept in stock by him, with the prices affixed. The paper in which this item of news was recorded seems to have regarded Mr Holder's practice as a dangerous innovation, and remarks that it would be quite destructive to trade if shopkeepers lavished so much of their capital in printing useless bills. This utterance now seems ridiculous ; but in the course of another two centuries many orthodox opinions of the present day will receive as complete a downfall as that just recorded. Within the recollections of men who are still young street advertising has considerably changed. Twenty years ago the billsticker was a nuisance of the most intolerable kind, and though we can hardly now consider him a blessing, his habits have changed very much for the better. Never heeding the constant announcement to him to beware, the billsticker cared nothing for the privacy of dead walls, or, for the matter of that, of dwelling-houses and street doors; and though he was hardly ever himself to be seen, his disfigurative work was a prominent feature of the metropolis. It was also considered by him a point of honour— if the term may be used in connection with billstickers—to paste over the work of a rival; and so the hoardings used to present the most heterogeneous possible appearance, and though bills were plentiful, their intelligibility was of a very limited description. Sunday morning early used to be a busy time with the wandering billsticker. Provided with a light cart and an assistant, he would make a raid on a whole district, sticking his notices and disappearing with marvellous rapidity. And how he would chuckle as he drove away, more especially if, in addition to disfiguring a private wall, he had succeeded in covering over the handiwork of a rival For this reason the artful billsticker used to select a time when it was still early enough to evade detection, and yet late enough to deface the work of those who had gone before him. Billsticking was thus an art attended with some difficulties; and it was not until the advent of contractors, like Willing, Partington, and others, that any positive publicity could be depended upon in connection with posting. Yet, in the days of which we have just been speaking, the man of paste considered himself a very important personage ; and it is not so very long since one individual. published himself under the style and title of “Champion Billposter,” and as such defied all comers. It was for some time doubtful whether his claims depended upon his ability to beat and thrash all rivals at fisticuffs, whether he was able to stick more bills in a given time than any other man, or whether he had a larger and more important connection than usually fell to the poster's lot; in fact, the question has never been settled, for exception having been taken to his assumption of the title of champion from any point of view, and reference having been made to the editors of sporting papers, the ambitious one gracefully withdrew his pretensions, and the matter subsided. A generation ago one of the most popular songs of the day commenced something like this—
“I’m Sammy Slap the billsticker, and you must all agree, sirs,
The advent of advertisement contractors, who purchased the right, exclusive and absolute, to stick bills on a hoarding, considerably narrowed the avocations of what might almost have been called the predatory billsticker. For a long time the fight was fierce and often ; as soon as an “advertisement station ” had been finished off, its bills and announcements being all regulated with mathematical precision, a cloud of skirmishers, armed to the teeth with bills, pots, and brushes, would convert, in a few minutes, the orderly arrangements of the contractor to a perfect chaos. But time, which rights all things, aided in the present instance by a few magisterial decisions, and by an unlookedfor and unaccountable alacrity on the part of the police, set these matters straight; and now it is hard to find an enclosure in London the hoarding of which is not notified as being the “advertisement station” of some contractor or other who would blush to be called billsticker. In the suburbs the flying brigade is still to be found hard at work, but daily its campaigning ground becomes more limited, and gradually these Bashi-Bazouks of billsticking are becoming absorbed into the regular ranks of the agents' standing corps.
Placard advertising, of an orderly, and even ornamental, character, has assumed extensive proportions at most of the metropolitan railway stations, the agents to whom we have just referred having extended their operations in the direction of blank spaces on the walls, which they sublet to the general advertising public. Often firms which advertise on an extensive scale themselves contract with the railway companies, and not a few have extended their announcements from the stations to the sides of the line, little enamelled plates being used for this purpose. Any one having a vacant space at the side of his house, or a blank wall to the same, may, provided he live in anything like a business thoroughfare, and that the vantage place is free from obstruction, do advantageous business with an