Early TwenCen Marketing

By | Sunday, April 07, 2013 Leave a Comment
I can't pin a date down for this, but I came across a set of Little Nemo flatware for children on eBay. The original strip ran from 1905-1911 and, after a several month hiatus, continued until 1914. It was pikced up again briefly from 1924-1927, but it never returned to it's pre-1911 levels of popularity. That original level of popularity would suggest this stems from the 1905-1911 timeframe.

The flatware itself seems to be unremarkable and not related to Winsor McCay's comic in any way; it's really just a set of regular (well, gold) flatware in a box with a picture of Nemo on it. There don't appear to be any copyright stamps anywhere, so it's dubious on whether or not this was even legal. Frankly, that doesn't even look to me like a McCay drawing on the box.

But it strikes me mainly from the perspective that this crass commercialization of a creative endeavor occurred over 100 years ago. For as much as we think today's world of cross-marketing and promotion is fairly new, this set shows a commercial cynicism from a century ago where someone realized that they could sell more flatware by slapping a drawing of a popular character on the box.

Same as it ever was.
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