How Advertising Functioned in the 19th Century – A Look at Advertising History

Advertising is so common today that people do not even pay attention to it unless there is a very big discount on products or if they need something and are on the look for that thing. For example, only when they want to place a bet or play a casino game do they seek out websites like to get the best offers. The only real time people notice ads, actually, when they pop up during a video you are watching, or during a commercial break while you are watching a TV show.

In the 19th century, things were not so cut and dry. There were fewer ways of handling things, due to the fact that television or the internet not even being ideas in people’s minds. Back then, things were done in a more brick and mortar way.

Newspaper Advertisements

Newspaper advertisements were very popular in Britain during their inception but were quickly forgotten or replaced. Newspaper advertisements had a way of working, but it only worked for people who knew how to read and had enough money to buy newspapers. Not many people were literate during that time in the UK, and even fewer people had enough money to purchase a newspaper. The reason for that was not just lots of poor people, but the fact that newspapers in Britain were taxed at the time and therefore, much more expensive than in the United States.

In the United States, things developed differently. Since a lot of people settled a lot of lands, they were hungry for news. Since there was an economic boom, people knew that advertisements through newspapers were a profitable option. They even had their own special ways of printing characters, by joining them from much smaller ones, so as to look different to other ads. They also had to change their ad a little bit every two weeks, as there was a two-week limit to running the same advertisement.


Posters are not a novel way of advertisements as they existed in the 19th century, as well. They were used in Britain for a time, especially when newspapers were expensive. They were placed on buildings on prominent streets so that people could read them and find about a product or service.

During the late 1880s, again, in Europe, there was a boom in poster advertisement, due to the development of colored lithography. Artists became revered, as they started working as advertisers, rather than painters.

Posters also found their way into colorized magazines and therefore were able to reach a bigger audience. Other ways of advertisement included books, which was practiced in the big cities, where most of the people were literate.

These were some of the most common methods of advertisement during the 19th century. There were other instances of advertisements, yet these ones influenced and shaped our world.

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