Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Emergence of Advertising in America Research Guide

A research guide to the Emergence of Advertising in America digital collection. The guide contains contextual information about source collections and historical context.


  • 1880 - Singer Sewing Machines and McCormick Reapers begin to dominate their respective markets.
  • 1880 - John Wanamaker hires John E. Powers, who brings a fresh style to advertising - an honest, direct and fresh appeal emphasizing the style, elegance, comfort and luxury of products. Powers is later called "the father of honest advertising."
  • 1881 - James Bonsack develops an efficient cigarette-rolling machine; until this point cigarettes (like cigars) have been rolled by hand.
  • 1883 - James B. Duke leases the Bonsack rolling machines. This contract ensures that his cost to manufacture cigarettes will be 25% below his competitors.
  • 1883 - Ladies Home Journal and Life Magazine begin publication.
  • 1884 - Linotype machine invented, advancing the use of color in printing.
  • 1885 - The Washington Monument is dedicated.
  • 1885 - New postal regulations reduce the cost of second class mailing to one cent per pound, allowing an almost immediate increase in the number of new subscription-based periodicals.
  • 1886 - Coca-Cola is invented in Atlanta, Georgia by Dr. John S. Pemberton. Pemberton's bookkeeper, Frank Robinson, penned the name Coca-Cola in the flowing script that is still used in advertising today.
  • 1886 - Cosmopolitan magazine begins.
  • 1886 - Sears, Roebuck & Company begins mail-order business.
  • 1887 - Introduction of the "safety bicycle," which had wheels of equal size.
  • 1887 - Congress enacts the Interstate Commerce Act.
  • 1888 - Printer's Ink, the oldest, most prestigious and largest magazine targeted to advertisers, agencies and copywriters is founded by George P. Rowell.
  • 1888 - Eastman begins advertising the first hand-held Kodak camera.
  • 1888 - Congress establishes the Department of Labor.
  • 1889 - James B. Duke spends 20 per cent of the gross sale of his tobacco company earnings ($80,000) towards advertising.
  • 1889 - Munsey's magazine is started.
  • 1880s - Illustrated trade cards reach the height of their popularity, not only with advertisers but also with the American public, which becomes remarkably interested in collecting them.


  • 1890 - The American Tobacco Company is founded, absorbing over 200 hundred rival firms, and gains control of the cigarette and smoking tobacco industries.
  • 1890 - Literary Digest begins publication.
  • 1890 - J. Walter Thompson Company's billings total over one million dollars.
  • 1890 - The Sherman Anti-Trust Act becomes the first legislation enacted by the United States Congress to curb concentrations of power that interfere with trade and reduce economic competition. It is named for U.S. senator John Sherman, an expert on the regulation of commerce.
  • 1891 - The precursor organization to the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA) is created under the name Associated Bill Posters Association of United States and Canada. OAAA is not used as the organizational name until 1925.
  • 1891 - Batten and Co. advertising agency is founded by George Batten in New York, merging with another agency in 1928 to form Batten, Barton, Durstine and Osborne (BBDO).
  • 1891 - Nathan Fowler, in Advertising Age, recommends that because women make most of the purchasing decisions of their household, manufacturers would do well to direct their advertising messages to them.
  • 1892 - Artemus Ward, advertising for Sapolio Soap, sponsors a Captain Andrews' trans-Atlantic voyage in a 14 foot boat to celebrate Columbus' voyage 400 years earlier. The voyage takes 3 months to complete and is widely followed and reported on in the press, providing free advertising for Sapolio soap.
  • 1892 - Vogue magazine begins publication.
  • 1892 -Sears, Roebuck & Co. mails out 8,000 post cards with imitation handwriting across the country. 2,000 orders are received directly from this promotional campaign.
  • 1892 - The Ladies Home Journal announces it will no longer accept patent medicine advertising.
  • 1893 - McClure's Magazine begins publication.
  • 1893 - The Royal Baking Powder Co. is estimated be the biggest newspaper advertiser in the world.
  • 1894 - The R. C. Maxwell Company, the oldest existing outdoor advertising company in America, is created. The company concentrates primarily in the Middle Atlantic states.
  • 1895 - Fred Pabst, president of Pabst Brewing Company, predicts in an essay that beer will become the national beverage of the United States.
  • 1895 - The first US patent for a gasoline powered automobile is given to Charles Duryea.
  • 1895 - The first American automobile race is run from Chicago to Evanston, Illinois and back. Two out of six cars finish the 54 mile long race, with a winning time of 7 hours, 53 minutes. The winner, Charles E. Duryea, that same year places what may be the first automobile advertisement ever, in The Horseless Carriage
  • 1896 - The Monarch Bicycle Company spends $125,000 on advertising, including $10,000 for a bicycle racing crew that tours the country participating in bicycle races under the Monarch name. The company sells 50,000 bicycles in 1896, up from 1,200 sold in 1893.
  • 1896 - J. Walter Thompson Company begins using the Rock of Gibraltar in its advertising for Prudential Insurance Co.
  • 1896 - Full color lithographic advertising prints for Ivory Soap are sent directly from specialty printers to magazine publishers, who bind them into magazines. This practice is soon taken up by other manufacturers.
  • 1896 - The Duryea MotorWagon opens Barnum & Bailey's Greatest Show on Earth at Madison Square Garden in New York.
  • 1898 - The Pepsi-Cola formula is created by Caleb Bradham, a New Bern, NC druggist.
  • 1898 - N. W. Ayer & Sons begin using outdoor advertising.
  • 1898 - The National Biscuit Company is founded, and immediately begins advertising its Uneeda Biscuit, employing the N. W. Ayer & Sons advertising agency for a campaign that became very successful.
  • 1899 - J. Walter Thompson Company opens a London office, possibly the first international office of an American advertising agency.
  • 1899 - Eighty companies are making, or preparing to make, automobiles.
  • 1890s - Advertisements for alcohol - wines, liqueurs, and whiskeys - are placed in popular national magazines, such as Harper's Weekly.
  • 1890s - Women are depicted outside the home in a non-domestic setting for the first time in bicycle ads.
  • 1890s - Advertising manuals increasingly recommend the use of post cards as a low cost means of direct communication with consumers.