Advertising is a thing of all ages but especially in the nineteenth century it assumed large proportions. Brands were looking for new ways to profile themselves and started to collaborate with artists. At the end of the twentieth century merchandising made its appearance, something we can see at the Chessmen Museum.

‘We make the best chicken in town!’. Wall-advertising can be found everywhere amongst the ruins of Pompeii. Everything and everyone from politics, gladiators to restaurants are recommended on its walls. In medieval times the town-criers, besides making announcements, advertised for and against catering establishments. It didn’t matter really whether their owners liked it or not. In those days the ubiquitous sun blinds and bill boards above workshops and stores were usually used for slogans to promote the goods of the shop or its manufacturer. This way, from a distance, everyone could see what was for sale.

Affiche voor Philips lamp door Albert Hahn (1917)

Philips lamps advertisement poster by Albert Hahn (1917)

Mass production needs advertising
Up to the Industrial Revolution in the nineteenth century, shopkeepers were very powerful in the Netherlands. The grocers decided which goods they sold and where they bought them. The client was completely at the mercy of the grocer this way. Goods weren’t wrapped up individually but were kept in big tins, bales or sacks. If you wanted to buy an ounce of coffee the grocer would weigh it for you and put it in a bag. Word-of-mouth advertising and regular customers made for the shops’ clientele.

New factories producing goods on a massive scale broadened horizons way past the local market. Because of this, advertising changed as well. Manufacturers wanted to reach clients outside of their area. They needed the whole world to be able to recognize their products and so they packaged their goods themselves and labeled them with their name. Now, clients at the grocers could specifically ask for Van Houten cocoa or Verkade biscuits. Manufacturers also up scaled their advertising.

This went past putting their name on their doors or on their products. In 1868, taxes for publishers on newspapers, magazines and advertisements were abolished. Publishers could now afford to lower their prices and because of this there was an enormous increase of edition numbers. All of these media placed advertisements. At the start they would consist of big and bold writing, but at the end of the nineteenth century advertisers were given the possibility to make more attractive advertisements that could distinguish them from the competition.

Reclame affiche van Jan Toorop in Art Nouveau stijl (1894)

Advertisement poster by Jan Toorop, Art Nouveau style (1894)

Advertising artwork
It had become a lot cheaper to print images because of improved printing techniques. Manufacturers would hire artists to design advertising posters for them. Socialist Albert Hahn designed posters promoting socialism as well as posters promoting Verkade’s and Philips’ goods (1917). Artists had to make a living but what was more, the Socialists wanted the common man to be able to enjoy art as well and not have art restricted to the salons of the elite and the museums. Advertising posters made this possible.

Advertising posts with advertising on them made their appearance and were spread out all over town. New and artistic posters would be glued on regularly. In 1894 Jan Toorop made a poster for the Dutch Oil Factory (NOF, currently Calvé) in the elegant Art Nouveau style. This poster for salad oil gained so much fame, on an international basis even, that in the Netherlands the design of the poster is still known as the Salad Oil Style.

Reclame schaakspellen

Advertising through chess sets

Cinema and TV
In the twentieth century manufacturers found new ways to advertise their products with the arrival of new media. From 1920 on, cinema audience were shown commercial films and in 1967 the first TV-commercial found its way to this new medium. At the end of the century merchandising gained a lot of importance. To raise brand awareness, famous brands would lend their name and logo to more than just their products. At the museum we can find some examples of famous brands that have put their name on chess games. The Coca Cola, Jonge Jenever and Hertog Jan chess sets are some of the surprising brand and chess game combinations.

By Marjolein Overmeer