Albert Shawi oversaw The American Review of Reviews, a sort of The Economist for the late 19th and early 20th centuries, from 1891 until 1937, only to see it fail shortly after merging with The Literary Digest. As with The Economist – which too will surely fail, unable as it is to make sense of the economic maelstrom the world has been engulfed by, which’d not coincidentally be the same reason TAROR failed – Shaw’s monthly digest is mostly advertising. With 125 pages of paid promotional material compared to just 105 pages of content ranging from current events, cartoons, book reviews, editorials, and photo essays, it’s exactly what you’d expect from an “intellectual magazine” 91 years later.
So, for our collective edification, let’s sample a few selections from the December 1924 issue of Shaw’s Review, which I just happen to have at hand, and see if we can’t tease out some telling bits about human nature, the makings of civil society, different styles of marketing, and how much the USA has changed in the past three or four generations.
Peel back the cover and the very first page of the Review is this : an advertisement containing 21 simple, all-capitalised words – just a company name, an indication of what the company sells, the company’s slogan, an indication that potential customers are to be treated with kind consideration, and a physical address – within unadorned triple-thick framing. No pictures, no fuss, and no muss, just a simple, timeless message : We appeal to the literate set, the set that’s above corny images and hollow emotional appeals. We appeal to the true 1%.
This, to me, is a mind-blowing statement to make in print advertisement, principally because it’s just not done today. Even Patek Philippe ads today are cheesy Kodak moments between parent and child, and Tiffany’s latest ads are so base (ie. growth-starved) as to latch themselves to anything that might be “trending,” including, but not limited to, the latest in fad marriages (ie. gay marriages).ii The above advertisement seems literally insane to a consumer accustomed to the 24-7 five-alarm multi-sensory blitzes that currently pass for “media campaigns.”
Anyone else see parallels between The Pacific Northwest as described in this ad and The Most Serene Republic as it stands today ?
Yet even those who live in TMSR~ have just begun to realise its greatness. The consciousness of empire is at last upon them.
Not so far fetched, is it ?
Now known as the Metropolitan Tower and designed by Graham, Anderson, Prbit & White, the eponymously named Straus Building was the first 30+ story building in Chicago when it was completed in 1924. The Greco-Roman-influenced structure housed, among several other prominent tenants,iii S. W. Straus & Co., a real estate finance company that obviously took pride in its record of conservative investment… until they went bust in 1933. No one could’ve predicted using a plane like a missile, and all that.iv
When’s the last time you saw an advertisement that promised you the ability to conquer your environment ? Probably the last time you saw a commercial for a Jeep Wrangler, a ski-doo, or a winter snow tire, so probably pretty recently. Now can you seriously imagine Amazon, Chapter’s, or whatever’s left of Britannica making a similar pitch ? I tell you I don’t see it. John H. Finley might as well have lived on another planet for all the sense his message would make to mayo-gendered modern earthlings.
Waitwut ?! That map… it’s b-b-b-b-backwards !!1
It’s as if John Bull, from nearly a century and an ocean away, foresaw Bitcoin. Crazy.
This ad is clearly from the days before Cadillac was a badge-engineered Obamacare tax. Back then, for context, a school teacher might earn a dollar an hour, or $2`000 per year. That might not seem like much, but a new house in a major city would only be 4x that, a new car could be had for 1/9th of that, a loaf of bread was $0.09, a litre of milk was $0.13 and a litre of gasoline was $0.03. For investments, gold was $20 per oz. and silver 1/20th that.
In 2015 Albertabux, where teachers earn $80k per year and live in $350k houses, this Cadillac Suburban would’ve cost something like $200k, or about twice what a pimped out Escalade Platinum will run you. Yes, Caddy has gone so far down-market that only wooden-tongued tools use it.v Ouch.
You know you’ve made something of yourself when you have your own mausoleum ! Short of your own pyramids, it doesn’t get much more prestigious. Want.
Advice to the men in the audience : if you’re co-habitating with a girl, never move into a new place that has less well-finished bathrooms than the last place. The luxury creep effect (where it’s all but impossible to regress once you’ve advanced up the ladder of luxuries and delicacies) applies nowhere moreso than the bathroom. Also, that is really rather lovely tilework, isn’t it ? Quite timeless, quite tasteful.
Thus concludes our tour. Cheers !
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- Shaw was professor of international law and political institutions at Cornell University for a time, as well as being a classmate of Woodrow Wilson. Oh boo hiss Wilson, let’s change the names of all the buildings at Princeton ? What, like Wilson’s so different from the most recent Nobel Peace Prize-winning U.S. President who also happens to be a racialist ? Oh but wait, you say, mulatos can’t be racialist because fair is fair and since we did it to them in olden history times then it’s totally kosher if unqualified retards run the country ! Whatever man, your funeral. Enjoy your final days thinking that each and every one of America’s golden ages wasn’t directly preceded by all-out war, and that peace, love, and equality are the only way for us to usher in a new era of human flourishing. That’s totally how it works. In La-La Land. [↩]
- The banking room didn’t skimp on the detailing either. At the far end of the 2nd-floor banking hall was a large Florentine-style stained glass window depicting a 16th-century full-rigged ship, complete with allegorical figures of Art and Justice.
I can’t get enough of ceiling detailing like this. [↩]
- The story of S. W. Straus & Co. should not only make you wary of state-blessed companies like Apple and JP Morgan, but even businesses like MPEx. A perfect record of security, safety, or profit is only perfect until it isn’t. [↩]
- Yes, there are intellectually impoverished pro athletes who still buy and drive Caddys, but the smart ones drive Kias and Buicks (LeBron and Tiger, respectively). [↩]