Buy the Best! Two hundred years of advertising

HighlightingHistromfleet-1024x295 Author's Blog Highlighting History

Highlighting Historical Romance with Jude Knight

I’m doing the pre-format check of the Bluestocking Belles’ latest box set, Valentines from Bath, and I’ve been creating relevant advertisement to use as breaks between stories.

To get them correct, I’ve dived into one of my favourite research resources: the British Newspaper Archive. This database offers nearly 30 million pages of newspapers dating from as far back as the 1603 from all over Britain and further afield.

The British Newspaper Archive is a collaboration with the British Library to make over 600,000 bound volumes of newspapers and over 300,000 reels of microfilm available to researchers all over the world by digitising them and putting them on line. They’re aiming at 40 million pages.

Advertising language has changed dramatically in the past 200 years.

Here’s the advertisement I made based on one from 1815, the year of our box set.

advert-candles Author's Blog Highlighting History

Lots of information, and a variety of text size.

Not much had changed by the 1850s. (Note that I’ve screen captured the images, so my search word is highlighted with a blue box.)

candles-victorian Author's Blog Highlighting History

Still lots of information, but note the text across the top, and the way the cost has been highlighted. We’re beginning to see the use of trigger words, to attract a buyer’s attention.

The advertisement from the turn of the twentieth century is minimalist by comparison.

candles-1900 Author's Blog Highlighting History

Not much information there, but the advertising industry was in its infancy. We’d see some movement over the next few years. Just take a look at this one from the 1950s. By now, of course, candles are not a necessity for lighting homes and workspaces.

candles-1950 Author's Blog Highlighting History

We’re getting much closer to the advertisement we expect, with greater use of typography to highlight the key points.

In this 1970s advertisement, the two selling points are price and fear of an emergency.

Candles-1970s Author's Blog Highlighting History

Twenty years on, we get the benefit of computer typography, allowing more room to play with type.

Candles-1990s Author's Blog Highlighting History

Which brings us all the way down to today. The Archive didn’t take me that far, but keep an eye out for yourself. Your local newspaper may well carry an advertisement for candles, though the distant descendant of our hostess’s Douglas Marsh (Candles in the Dark, one of the stories in the box set) almost certainly has a web page and Facebook page, and does most of her advertising online.

How times have changed.


For more about the British Newspaper Archive, see

About the Book

In five original stories, Jessica Cale, Sherry Ewing, Jude Knight, Amy Quinton, and Caroline Warfield bring you Valentines From Bath. Anything can happen in the magic of music and candlelight as couples dance, flirt, and open themselves to romantic possibilities. Problems and conflict may just fade away at a Valentine’s Day Ball. Found out more here:

VFB-Warfield-Candles-in-the-Dark-Blurb Author's Blog Highlighting History

About Jude Knight

Jude-Knight Author's Blog Highlighting History

I have always loved telling stories, mostly for the benefit of children in need of entertainment, or to amuse myself while waiting (six children mean a lot of waiting), or to continue to live in a book world after I had closed the covers.

In 2014, the first of my strong determined historical heroines, heroes who appreciate them, and villains you’ll love to loathe made their way into the covers of Candle’s Christmas Chair.

A dozen books later, the wind fills my sails and many more plots jostle for daylight. My great desire is to sell enough of my books to leave the day job and write full-time. If you like what I do, I’d love you to spread the word.

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