Bygone adverts prove So Near and yet so Far at the Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro

By Ben Miller | 24 January 2012
A photo of various advertising signs from the 1920s
© Bernie Pettersen
Exhibition: So Near and yet so Far, Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro, until April 1 2012

In the 1920s, if you believed the advertisers, ciggies cured throat infections and tonic wine acted as a "nerve restorative" for various ailments.

Guinness, as we all know, was/is good for you, and Oxo could give you bovine strength.

If the validity of their claims is frequently dubious, the colour and spirit of old adverts are always a joy to behold, and this exhibition on early advertising – with a particular focus on the enamelled iron signs used on buildings at home and abroad between 1880 and the 1950s – is no exception.

"Advertising today is governed by much stricter rules, so it's fascinating to step back into an era when there was far less legislation around and see the kind of claims being made by manufacturers," says Georgia Butters, part of the museum team who helped collector Andrew Morley put the show together.

"It's a rare chance to see how advertisers persuaded the public to buy everything from tobacco to boot polish before the age of TV advertising."

  • Open Tuesday-Saturday 10am-4.45pm. Admission free.

More pictures:

A photo of various bygone advertising signs on a wall for food and drink
Often attached to walls left black and grimy from atmospheric pollution, the signs were kept gleaming by shopkeepers© Bernie Pettersen
A photo of a man looking at bygone adverts on a gallery wall
Craven 'A' cigarettes claimed smoking could prevent sore throats, and Coca-Cola was proclaimed "the ideal brain tonic"
© Bernie Pettersen
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