« AnteriorContinuar »
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 toVAn »0 his assumption of the title of champion from any >f view, and reference having been made to the of sporting papers, the ambitious one gracefully w 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,
With my paste, paste, paste!
All the world is puffing,
So I '11 paste, paste, paste!"
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 I 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 J 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
advertisement contractor; and, as matters are progressing, we may some day expect to see not only the private walls of the houses in Belgrave Square and suchlike fashionable localities well papered, but the outsides and insides of our public buildings utilised as well by the hand of the advertiser. One thing is certain, no one could say that many of the latter would be spoiled, no matter what the innovation to which they were subjected.
The most recent novelty in advertising has been the introduction of a cabinet, surmounted by a clock face, into public-house bars and luncheon rooms. These cabinets are divided into spaces of say a superficial foot each, which are to be let off at a set price. So far as we have yet seen, these squares have been filled for the most part with the promoters' advertisements only; and it is admitted by all who know most about advertising that the very worst sign one can have as to the success of a medium is that of an advertisement emanating from the promoters or proprietors of anything in which such advertisement appears. Why this should be we are not prepared to say. We are more able to show why it should not be; for no man, advertisement contractor or otherwise, should, under fair commercial conditions, ask another to do what he would not do himself. So we are satisfied to rest content with the knowledge that what we have stated is fact, however incongruous it may seem, which any one can endorse by applying himself to the ethics of advertising. Certainly, in the instance quoted, the matter looks very suggestive; perhaps it depends on the paradox, that he who is most anxious that others should advertise is least inclined to do so himself.
Not long ago the promoters of a patent umbrella, which seems to have gone the mysterious way of all umbrellas, patent or otherwise, and to have disappeared, availed themselves of a great boat-race to attract public attention to their wares. Skiffs fitted with sails, on each of which were painted the patent parapluie, and a recommendation to buy