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T N presenting the following humble attempt at history-writing to the reader, I am selfish enough to admit a preference for his tender mercy rather than for his critical judgment. I would ask him to remember that there are many almost insurmountable difficulties to be faced in the accomplishment of a work like this, and a narrowed space adds to rather than diminishes from their antagonistic power.
When the work was first proposed to me, it was imagined that the subject could be fully disposed of in less than five hundred pages. I have already gone considerably over that number, and feel that the charge of incompleteness may still be brought against the book. But I also feel that if I had extended it to five thousand pages, the charge could still have been made, for with such a subject actual exhaustion cannot be expected; and so, despite the great quantity of unused material I have yet by me, I must rest satisfied with what I have done. I trust the reader will be satisfied also.
Almost everybody has in the course of his lifetime discovered some sort of a pet advertisement without which he considers no collection can be complete. During the progress of this "history" I have received many hundreds such—have received sufficient, with accompanying notes, to fill a bigger volume than this—and I can therefore imagine every fresh reader turning to look for his favourite, and, in the event of his finding it not, condemning the book unconditionally. I hope that in the event of a reconsideration some worthy representative will be found occupying the missing one's place. In like manner, and judging by my own friends' observations, I have found that almost every one would have treated the "history" differently, not only from my way but from each other's. Every one would have done something wonderful with such a wonderful subject. It will not be out of place perhaps, therefore, to ask the reader to think, that because the system adopted has not been that which would have suggested itself to him, it is not necessarily the wrong one after all.
I have received much assistance during the time I have been at work, in the way of hints and observations. For those which I have accepted, as well as for those I have been compelled to reject, I hereby tender my heartfelt thanks. Little in the way of socalled statistics of modern advertisers will be found in the book, as I fancy it is better to be silent than to make untrustworthy statements; and this remark will particularly apply to the amounts of annual outlay generally published in connection with the names of large advertising firms. My own experience is that the firms or their managers are not aware of the exact sums expended by them, or, if they are, do not feel inclined to tell in anything but the vaguest manner. Another observation I have made is, that extensive advertising is likely to result in a desire for the exaggeration of facts—at all events, so far as the individual advertisers themselves are concerned. That any firm, tradesmen, manufacturers, agents, quacks, perfumers, patentees, or whatever they may be, pay a settled annual sum, no more and no less, for advertising, I do not believe now, whatever I may have done before commencing my inquiries.
I have endeavoured as much as possible, and wherever practicable, to make the advertisements tell their own story. At the same time I have tried hard to prevent waste of space, and so far have, if in no other way, succeeded. This is but little merit to claim, and if I am allowed that, I shall be satisfied. Also, if my endeavour should lead to a development of that laudable spirit of emulation s'o apparent nowadays after the ice has been once broken, I shall be happy to supply any fresh adventurer with copious material which has grown up during the progress of this "history," and which has been omitted only through lack of room. As far as my judgment has allowed me, I have selected what appeared best; other tastes might lead to other results. With this I will take leave of a somewhat unpleasant and apparently egotistical task; and in doing so beg to say that I trust to the reader's kindness, and hope he will overlook the blemishes of a hurried and certainly an unpretentious work, which may, however, be found to contain a little amusement and some amount of information.