19th century advertisements are extremely fun to read, and you often find them as part of the early “mass market” printings of the day. These were small books which people could take with them on the train. Much like the magazines of today, the books were littered with advertisements for all sorts of products, usually placed where the end-papers or blank fly leaves should be.
Cassell’s National Library, a mass market series that printed Voyages and Travels of Marco Polo, along with other titles such as the Histories of Herodotus, Shakespeare’s Hamlet, and others, filled these small, pocket-size books with ads. Some of them are very entertaining, and others fill even us 21st-century folk with a sense of nostalgia.
Here are a few from Marco Polo:
1. Gripe Water (PS: Did your mother force-feed you Gripe Water when you were a child? Mine did!)
WOODWARD’S “GRIPE WATER”
Or INFANTS’ PRESERVATIVE. The only SAFE Medicine for all Disorders of Infants – Convulsions, Diarrhoea, Griping Pains, Teething, & c. A HIGH-CLASS MEDICINE, largely used by Doctors in their own families – the highest testimony to its value.
2. MELLIN’s FOOD for INFANTS and INVALIDS (glad to see they have something in common)
For the Healthful Rearing of Hand-Fed Children, and the Preservation of Infant Life. Entirely Soluble and NOT Farinaceaous.
3. Barber & Company’s FRENCH 10d. Coffee..UNKNOWN IN ENGLAND.
4. The “EXCELSIOR” Patent Spring Mattress. Patronised by Royalty, The Nobility, The Medical Profession.