Advertisements Featuring Boys' Clothing: Chronology--The 1930s

Figure 1.--Here we have another shoe-shing advertisement--this one by Shinola-Bixby Shoe Polish. The ad is sociologically interesting for May 1930, p. 38, during the Great Depression. The appeal is obviously to boys who are shown in a contemporary photograph playing baseball. Notice the above-the-knee knickers, the black long stockings, the hightop shoes, and the woolen cap with a bill worn by the boy sliding into a base. We are not sure when the photograph was taken. By 1930, most boys were wearing patterned knee socks rather than long stockings as well as low-cut shoes.

The United States and the rest of the world was plunged into the Great Depression during the 1930s. We are not yet sure, however, just how advertising was affected. We have begun to develop some information on the fashions displayed in period advertising. Eton collars in America by the 1930s have almost dissappeared, but younger boys might wear what Americans referred to as Eton suits. These sometimes appear in ads aimed at higher-income clientelle. Sailor suits are still seen, but much less common than earlier. We no longer see kneepants in the 1930s. Most of the American ads we note show younger boys wearing short pants and older boys wearing knickers. Here there is some variation. By the end of the decade we begin to see boys pictured in long pants, especially older boys. Another major shift is in hosiery. Long stockings are still quite common in the early 1930s. By the end of the decade boys are mostly shown wearing ptterned knee socks and ankle socks. Swimsuits are still pictured as including a kind of tank top. We see advertizers beginning to target the fashions shown to the targeted market.

Uneeda Biscuits (1930: United States)

This is an ad for Uneeda Biscuits, aproduct offered by the National Biscuit Companu (Nabisco). The ad appeared in the Ladies Home Journal (January 1930). Uneeda Bakers/Nabisco often used children in raincoats for its advertising. This was to stress the freshness preserving packaging for which the company was known. The ad copy at the bottom of the page reads, "Uneeda Biscuit has been the world's best soda crackers for more than 30 years--because of its extra goodness and flavor, its extra crispness and delicacy : : : Its the perfect soda cracker--day time anywhere." The boy in the illustration wears a boy in a yellow raincoat (hard to tell if its rubber coated cotton, or an oilskin). Note the date. I thought yellow raincoats were a fairly recent development. I only recall black in the 1940s. But clearly yellow rain coats appeared earlier.

Shinola-Bixby Shoe Polish (1930: United States)

Here we have another shoe-shing advertisement--this one by Shinola-Bixby Shoe Polish. The ad is sociologically interesting for May 1930, p. 38, during the Great Depression. The appeal is obviously to boys who are shown in a contemporary photograph playing baseball. Notice the above-the-knee knickers, the black long stockings, the hightop shoes, and the woolen cap with a bill worn by the boy sliding into a base. Shinola Shoe polish was obviously trying to interest boys in keeping their "scarred and dirty" shoes looking "bright and shiny" by polishing them. But the subtext seems also to suggest that in a very depressed economy it is important to prolong the life of shoes by keeping them polished. But more than this, the ad suggests that boys can make a bit of extra spending money (as much as 50 cents a week) by buying a Shinola Home Shoe-shine Kit and shining the family shoes for extra cash. The ad implies that the thrift and the neatness will earn the boy a bit of extra praise from his parents.

New Departure Bicycles (1930: United States)

Here are two interesting ads for New Departure bicycles, both aimed at teenage boys and appealing to two different sports--swimming and football. The boys riding the bicycles in the ad are picture both in swimsuits and gootball uniforms. Both ads appeared in Boy's Life, the magazine published by the Boy Scouts of America in New York City. The boys in the photographs are about 16 or 17 years old, I think.

Marklin (early-1930s: Germany)

We note an advertisement for a Marlin construction set. It looks to be a German Erector set. In Britain I think they were called Mechano. This was a very popular toy for nots in the 1920s and 30s. Actually I'm not sure which of these companies actually first created these mechanical sets and when the first one was marketed. The ad here or perhaps it is a box top looks to have been done about 1930. Perhaps our Germany readers will know more. We rather suspect that after the NAZIs seized power (1933) and began their massive rearmament program that less metal was avilable for children toys like Marklin. Note that the boys picture are wearing suits to play with their Marlin set.

Heinz (early-1930s: United States)

One of the most recognizable American brand names is H.J. Heinz, they are today best known foe their catchup. The add we have here is for baked beans which Heinz assures us is good for the healthy boy pictured. He wears a sweater, short pants, kneesocks, and heavy shoes. Although he seems to be playing, he wears a tie, perhaps he is going to school. The image is undated. We would guess the eraly 1930s.

Car Manufactureres (early-1930s: United States)

Here we note a Depression era poster, urging Americans to buy cars so that workers had jobs. We are not sure, but it looks to us like a Hoover Administration ad in the early 1930s. Most Americans in the 1930s would have loved to have bought a car, but most were having trouble putting food on the table, let alone buy a car. The poster shows a automobile worker's family. The little girl wears rompers.

Chipso (mid-1930s: United States)

Here we have an ad for a Proctor and Gambles' laundry soap -- Chipso. It was a chipped, not a powdered product. I do not recall Chipso, but I do recall chipped laundry soap--at least I have adim menory of it from the 40s. Presumably it disappeared because powdered product disolved better. This ad is undated. We have found another comparable color ad from 1935. This ad shows a rather large family for the 1930s, seven children--four boys and three girls. Theu look to be about 3-15 years old. They are rather formally dressed. That was fairly common in the 1930s advertising. The girls wear dresses, including bright colors. (Early detergents were death on bright colors.) The boys wear short pants suits, only one with a tie. (We can't tell about the boy in the back.) They have blue shirts. The one boy's patterned knee socks suggest the 1930s to us. The suits, especially the short pants suits were designed to give a rather prosperous middle-class look. And remember this was during the depression. Look at the Sudabaker ad for a similar example.

Tooth Paste (1937: Yugoslavia)

Here is a Yugoslav advertisement for toothpaste. It appeared in 1937,we think in magazines. Unfortunately as we don't speak Serbo-Croatian, we can't read the ad copy. We are not sure to what extent pre-War brands carried over into Communist Yugoslavia. We do not know if there was even branded products like toothpaste in Communist countries like Yugoslavia. Unlike the Soviet Union, quir=te a number of brands were well established by the time the Communists seized power in Yugoslavia. Not do we know if pre-War brands have survived into the moidern Serbian economy. Perhaps some of our Serbian readers will be able to tell us a little about this. This was just afew years before Hitler plunged Yugoslavia into World war II. As a result vof the War and then the Communist takeover, advertising ended in Yugoslavia for decades. The Communists saw advertising as a wasteful anacronism of a capitalist society. The boy weaes an open-neck shorr-sleeved shirt that does not seem to have a defined collar.

Studebaker (1938: United States)

Studebaker was a major authomobile cmpany in the 1930s. Here is a Studebaker ad for the 1938 model. It is interesting to note how the automobile companies tried to give their cars a clamerous look. Here we see women posed like a Vogue plate. Thecompanies also tried to project an upper class looks. This was in art done by ortraying children dressed up in formal outfit. Very commonly we see bous in peaked caps and short pants Eton suit. This was very common in their advertiing through the 1950s. The ad here is a good example. The children are all dressed up in the back seat. Studebker had a storied history until disappearing in the 1950s. They layed n important role in World War II. Every Red army soldier knew about Studebaker because so many Studebaker trucjs were shipped to the Soviet Union under Lend Lease.


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Created: 12:46 AM 1/30/2005
Last updated: 9:41 PM 9/19/2016