Let’s have some fun, in an advertising vein!  I’ve run across some fun little ads in my time collecting fencing memorabilia, but I confess that all of the ads I’m posting today were collected by the inimitable Hans Halberstadt and were pasted into his scrapbooks that are still preserved in this physical plane by the Halberstadt Fencers Club in San Francisco.  
1952 Swords ad

To start off, an advertisement both with and for fencing.  I don’t think I know any current vendors selling “heavy duty” pairs of dueling swords for a meager $2.98.  Prices seem to have gone up a bit since this came out in 1952.  Just a bit.  And, as if that wasn’t enough, a book to help you in your studies!

Foil Fresh Ad.1949

A 1949 ad for those little chocolate stars that my Aunt Ruth and Aunt Harriet used to keep in a crystal candy dish at their house in Riverside.  They were terrible.  Maybe the ones I remember were just out too long to retain their “foil freshness”.

This shaving cream ad is from 1952.  Just one question for the copywriter: how does one shave last longer than another?


By 1955, non-sequitur, absurdist comedy found its way to comics and advertising.  At least, I guess it did because this ad doesn’t make any kind of sense.  I think that’s why I like it.


And, from the midst of the cold war, we bring you a fencing metaphor that will give you peace of mind, knowing that our best and brightest air force personnel could stand on guard as a means of protecting the world for democracy and freedom.  Wait, no – they didn’t need to do that; they were sitting in pilot seats and wearing awesome pre-Nasa space suits!  But check out the perfection of that back arm classicism.  Awesome.  Except it’s really an awkward drawing.  Honestly now, doesn’t it look like his left calf is, well, not to put too fine a point on it, stuck on his butt?  I’m not sure I’d have approved this drawing if I was the art director.

This one gives us a lesson in advertising strategy from some of the great names in advertising.  Hal Needham was a legend in the business of advertising, eventually having a long-running company under his own name.  This ad is to advertise the advertising company.  So, there’s that.

1956 Matches ad

This matchbox cover is from the Melbourne Olympics in 1956.  I love that there’s only an average for how many matches you may get in the box.  The average is 60, but what’s the low/high on that?  Maybe as many as 80; maybe only 6 or 7.  Shake the box first, I think.


Also from 1956, I bring you “slenderella”.  Is it a diet?  A girdle?  A new pill?  A gym?  The ad is suspiciously free of anything confusing like, I dunno, information.  A “Free Trial Visit”?  Maybe they lock you in a cell on bread & water until you reach your target skinnyness.  And, just for women?  Do guys get to be slender?  Is that a gender specific term, even?  Questions, questions, questions.  Nice boots, though.  Very pirate-y.  And what’s with the two medieval looky-loos?  And those, what, buildings? at the very top?  They look like Masonic symbols as much as anything.  What’s going on here?  I’m very, very confused.

And a nice 1958 cordials ad to finish up.  I used to work at a fancy restaurant that served your choice of cordial as an after dinner freebie.  Creme de Menthe or Creme de Cacao.  Both awful just by themselves.  Not Heublein, I don’t think.  But hey, free drinks!  Savor it!

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