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Vacationing in Philadelphia

In the next few posts, I am exploring the guidebook Philadelphia and its Environs published by Lippincott & Co. in 1875. This publication is the third edition of this title. Since a guidebook is a book of information about a particular place for visitors and tourists to use, it is no surprise this guidebook is full of useful information and is a great example of ephemera!

The first thing that stood out to me is the advertisements in the front. Like what we would see in a guidebook today, companies are using this book to advertise to new customers looking to spend extra cash while on vacation. We see clothing stores, memorabilia and trinkets, bookstores, food, and travel accommodations such as the Philadelphia, Wilmington & Baltimore railroad. Some examples are shown below.

Have you ever bought a grand piano on vacation? Well, Schomacker & Co. is tempting you with this ad and its claim to winning the “First Prize Medal;” however, we are not told who granted this medal.

Whitman's Fine Confections

One of my favorite advertisements is for “Whitman’s Fine Confections” the maker of the famous “Whitman’s Sampler” which is still enjoyed by many today. The sampler was not introduced until 1912, after the publication date of this guide, but it is fun to imagine what other chocolate delights they were serving to visitors. Stephen F. Whitman had a history with travelers, as his first customers were sailors and their wives on the waterfront. In 1854, he produced the first pre-packaged candy in a trademarked, printed box, making it easier to bring home sweets and keep the box as a souvenir. (Ephemera!)

Whitman was a suave marketer and took advantage of newspapers and other prints to market his sweets, a novelty at the time. Another fun aspect of this ad is the lithographic print of the building. If you are from Philadelphia, you may recognize the building because it still stands today. Although the inside has been renovated, you can still see the facade of the building at 12th and Market as an entrance to the Philadelphia Convention Center. The image is also the same image used in his first newspaper ad in 1860, businessmen reuse their prints as it was expensive to produce them in the first place.

Convention Center image courtesy of WikiCommons

If you would like to study more about Stephen F. Whitman, the Smithsonian Institute holds an extensive collection of print advertisements, and the finding aid can be found here. Or visit the current owner of Whitman Chocolates, Russell Stover.

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