It's no secret that promotional giveaways have been used for centuries -- items like buttons and rulers were distributed as far back as the 1700s when George Washington was running for president. But it's not often that you come across well-preserved handouts from the distant past.
Yesterday, while going through his desk drawers, Motivators CEO Ken Laffer stumbled upon a few vintage promotions that he collected over the years. The original owners of these handouts must have really taken care of them, because they're still intact! Let's take a look at some of these really, really old promotional products:
This promotional calendar from 1899 is the oldest of the three giveaways. It served as an advertisement for an insurance company in Philadelphia, Penn.
As you can see, by 1919, the print quality had improved a bit -- this promo for A. L. White even came with a matching business card!
Cowand's Department Store distributed this calendar in 1936. Finally some color was introduced to the promo calendars!
Cowand's also incorporated a tagline -- something that would become typical of promo products.
Promotional products have a rich history here in the U.S. and abroad. They can tell you a lot -- what was happening at the time, what people liked, and how technology developed. And, after all these years, these giveaways still super-successful and cost-effective. Kind of makes you wonder how future promotional product professionals will look at our swag centuries from now!