Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Ads You’re Not Going to See Again Anytime Soon – Chapter 2

Ads You’re Not Going to See Again Anytime Soon – Chapter 2

By: Ardis E. Parshall - July 21, 2008

This post — advertising from the pages of the November 1962 Improvement Era — is dedicated to this thread on Times & Seasons, or at least to the recurring threadjack there.



  1. At those prices, even adjusted for inflation, we probably won’t see those advertisements again, anywhere.

    Comment by Stephen M (Ethesis) — July 21, 2008 @ 5:13 pm

  2. Did the church and/or Improvement Era make money off these ads? Was the advertising intended to (or regardless of intent, did it) pay for a sizable fraction of the cost of the publication? Very weird by today’s norms.

    Comment by sister blah 2 — July 21, 2008 @ 5:29 pm

  3. I really want one of those tree of life stones! And for only $6.00! You think they’re still available? :)

    The rifles are sweet too! Wow, inflation has really eroded the value of our money since then, hasn’t it? I was alive, then, too, so by definition it’s not that long ago. =)

    Comment by Tatiana — July 21, 2008 @ 5:42 pm

  4. SB2, until 1971 and the advent of the Ensign/New Era/Friend, all of the church magazines of the 20th century carried advertising. Ad revenue plus subscriptions paid the bulk of the magazine costs. The ads were generally restricted the first few and last few pages of a magazine, plus the back cover, but in the Improvement Era they were *everywhere.*

    Every once in a while there would be an editorial ad telling readers that advertisements were carefully vetted and you couldn’t go wrong by doing business with our wonderful advertisers and be sure to tell them that you saw them in the Relief Society Magazine.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — July 21, 2008 @ 5:45 pm

  5. I’m wondering how high the lead content was of that junk jewelry. (And a “heavily gold plated” bracelet for $1.50 postpaid?!?)

    Comment by Researcher — July 21, 2008 @ 6:43 pm

  6. The following wording in the Temple Wedding Invitations ad caught my eye:

    “Rush orders completed same day received.”

    That statement in a wedding invitation ad normally would signify something different than I assume would be the case for temple wedding invitations – unless the requirements were radically different back then. I assume, therefore, that this line was there for the “getting married two weeks after we met” group.

    Am I wrong, Ardis?

    Comment by Ray — July 21, 2008 @ 7:25 pm

  7. I’ll bet you’re right, Ray, although I hadn’t really read any of the ads except the one for rifles. Y’all have better eyes than mine!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — July 21, 2008 @ 7:41 pm

  8. I don’t know about the particular riffles, but the more expensive one comes out to $480 in 2007 dollars, which for surplus gear is probably about right.

    Another great find, Ardis.

    Comment by J. Stapley — July 21, 2008 @ 8:35 pm

  9. Too bad my dad didn’t notice this–he could have bought, for about $70, the rifle that he carried for all those pleasant walks he took about the French countryside in 1945!

    I can’t remember his ever saying that he “loved it.”

    And seeing the Enfield .303 reminds me of Breaker Morant, one of my favorite movies all time, where one of the men on trial for murder described the rules that the Bushveldt Carbineers followed in dealing with Boer prisoners:

    “We shot them under Rule 303.”

    Comment by Mark B. — July 22, 2008 @ 8:51 am

  10. Sad to say that I remember those ads in the old Improvement Era. I remember specifically the ones that seemed to be targeted to bishops and stake presidents about organs for chapels, furnishings, etc, that under the “new” budget plan are no longer the purview of local ecclesiastical leaders. I also remember temple clothing and wedding dress ads, as well.

    I always thought them odd, and was glad to see them done away with. Now, except for the rifles, you can get all of this stuff at Deseret Book!

    Comment by kevinf — July 22, 2008 @ 12:48 pm

  11. Mark B., unless your father was an officer or artilleryman, in 1945 he was probably carrying across France the big brother of the .30cal carbine advertised here — the .30cal. M-1 Garand rifle, which was substantially heavier, with a longer barrel, and bigger clip.
    If you loved “Breaker Morant” you must also have liked “Galipoli.”
    This 1962 ad makes it easier to understand how that same year — or perhaps the following year –an unemployed Lee Harvey Oswald responded to a similar ad in a different publication and sent away for the Italian, bolt-action counterpart of the Enfield offered here.

    Comment by Bill MacKinnon — July 24, 2008 @ 5:27 am

  12. Mark B,

    Not only do we share similar names, we are kindred souls when it comes to movies. I’ve given up telling people that Breaker Morant is my favorite movie ever, because most of them have never heard of it. Another great part is when their inexperienced lawyer makes his first appearance in court and tries to get the charges thrown out. In response to the judge’s question as to why, he responds: “Because this trial is unconstitutional.” Classic.

    Comment by Mark IV — July 24, 2008 @ 6:46 am

  13. Thanks, Mark B and IV. My husband likes courtroom dramas (and movies like High Noon), so I put this one in the queue.

    Comment by Researcher — July 24, 2008 @ 7:10 am

  14. You’re right, Bill McKinnon. I read the ad too quickly–and didn’t see that word “carbine” at the end of the M-1 description. Dad was in the infantry, and would have had the M-1 Garand.

    I did like “Gallipoli”–but it’s just unutterably sad. For all of you who are signing up to have NetFlix send you “Breaker Morant” (put it number 1 on your list!), I won’t go into a long explanation about what tempers the sadness of that movie–I don’t want to spoil it.

    Peter Weir chose Albinoni’s Adagio as the theme for “Gallipoli.” Here’s a recording by von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic, a slightly slower tempo than I’m accustomed to. It can almost bring one to tears even without the memories it evokes for those who have seen the movie.

    Mark IV: glad to find another true believer! Terrific characters (what a collection: Morant, the poet, Handcock, the uneducated rake, and Witton, the callow lad), well played; great dialogue–a few of my favorites:

    Sentry: Do you want the padre?
    Harry Morant: No, thank you. I’m a pagan.
    Sentry: And you?
    Peter Handcock: What’s a pagan?
    Harry Morant: Well… it’s somebody who doesn’t believe there’s a divine being dispensing justice to mankind.
    Peter Handcock: I’m a pagan, too.

    Or, in their first meeting with their defense lawyer:

    Harry Morant: As a matter of interest, how many courts-martial have you done?
    Major Thomas: None.
    George Witton: None?
    Peter Handcock: Jesus, they’re playing with a double-headed penny, aren’t they?
    Major Thomas: Would you rather conduct your own defence?
    George Witton: But you have handled a lot of court cases back home, sir?
    Major Thomas: No. I was a country-town solicitor. I handled land conveyancing and wills.
    Peter Handcock: Wills. Might come in handy.

    To say nothing of the hard questions it asks (and doesn’t really answer, except that the British didn’t get them right).

    Put it at the top of your queue, Researcher.

    Comment by Mark B. — July 24, 2008 @ 10:12 am

  15. I second Mark B.’s enthusiasm for “Breaker Morant” one of the great Australian flicks of all time. I believe that “Gallipoli” was made by the same Director. Rather than being set in South Africa of the Boer War (in which Winston Churchill was a war correspondent for a London newspaper), it was set during WWI near the Turkish Straits of Bosporus where the British troops from Australia and NZ met disaster — a scene that forced Churchill out of the British government until the crisis of 1939. Back to “Breaker Morant” for a moment, the dialogue excerpted above, revealing how inexperienced the Rangers’ defense counsel was, differed very little from the scene at courts-martials held in American units until relatively recently. During the 1960s (and perhaps long thereafter) many-an-AWOL trooper or sailor was defended at his court-martial by an officer who had never set foot in a law school and had just hastily skimmed through a copy of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Manual for Courts-Martial, or the Article for the Governance of the Navy, known for decades as “Rocks and Shoals” for good reason. For those uninterested in the drama of “Breaker Morant,” it’s hard to beat the horsemanship of the Bushveldt Rangers, another sure sign of the Australian touch.

    Comment by Bill MacKinnon — July 24, 2008 @ 11:31 am

  16. I don’t know either of these films, but I just added “Breaker Morant” to my queue.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — July 24, 2008 @ 12:08 pm

  17. I thought the same thing, Bill, but Internet Movie Database straightened me out. Bruce Beresford directed Breaker Morant, and Peter Weir directed Gallipoli.

    And you’re right about Churchill being forced from the Admiralty in 1915 after the Gallipoli disaster–he had been First Lord of the Admiralty since 1911. But he did serve as the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster for several months (a sinecure with no responsibility), until he resigned and took a commission in the army and went to the Western Front. More important, he was in the government in the 1920s, acting as Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1924 until the government fell in 1929. Then he went into the “wilderness” from which he didn’t return until the beginning of the war with Germany, when he was appointed again to the Admiralty.

    (If you’re concerned–I really don’t have all this committed to memory. The vague outlines in my head are helped considerably by a quick look at some online resources.)

    Comment by Mark B. — July 24, 2008 @ 12:41 pm

  18. OK, I’ve ordered the movie too. Thanks for presenting a compelling case for it. With John Waters listed in the credits as an army captain, I had second thoughts, but I see it’s not that John Waters; Australian, not Baltimorean. I see Beresford also directed “Mister Johnson” which I thought highly of, so I’m hopeful for an entertaining couple of hours.

    Comment by John Mansfield — July 24, 2008 @ 1:07 pm

  19. Mark B., thanks for the fill-in re Churchill. I did not know that he was back in the govt. briefly as Chancellor of the Exchequer in the 1920s. (Wonder if that’s why he called his country house “Checkers”…heh, heh.) When he resigned as First Lord of the Admiralty after the Gallipoli disaster, he didn’t take up an army commission anew, but returned to the regiment in which he had served after being commissioned from Sandhurst. Accordingly he arrived at the trenches in France as the regiment’s lieut. colonel accompanied by his “bat man,” who lugged WSC’s collapsible canvas bathtub along with the rest of his kit. Churchill’s tour of duty as First Lord of the Admiralty had been so colorful, that when he returned to that role at the beginning of WWII the word was passed to and between the ships of the Royal Navy as a very brief, two-word message flashed by wireless, semiphore, and signal lamp: “He’s back!” There was no need for elaboration.

    Comment by Bill MacKinnon — July 26, 2008 @ 3:09 pm

  20. I used to laugh when I saw ads in The Improvement Era that contained pictures of George Burns. His hand was always held up with two fingers making a “V”. George Burns was famous for his cigars, and it was obvious that the cigar had been edited out of the picture.

    Comment by Allen — July 27, 2008 @ 1:15 pm

  21. The thread at T&S is closed for comments, so I’ll make my comment here, even though my comment isn’t about advertisements in church publications.

    When I was young, it was common for the Church News to have pictures and accompanying articles about jack rabbit hunts that had been sponsored by Deacon’s quorums. For those who aren’t familiar with farming back in those days, jack rabbits ate a lot of hay that was been stockpiled for use by cows during the winter, and farmers considered the rabbits pests.

    Comment by Allen — July 27, 2008 @ 1:23 pm

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