Identification Guides

Trademarks—Icons of Advertising

Some familiar trademarks that originated in the 19th century are still being used. Many have been updated to a more modern look. Collectors like these “icons of advertising” and all are collectible. Some of the most famous are the Quaker Oats man (1876); Baker’s Chocolate lady (1883); Coca-Cola logo (1886, registered in 1893); Aunt Jemima (1889); Mennon Talc baby (1892); Cream of Wheat man (1893); and the Nabisco boy in a yellow raincoat (1899).

In dating labels, look for wording that seems old-fashioned. At the turn of the twentieth century, a can label might say, “Carefully selected fruit prepared by experienced women.” Products had names like “washing fluid” or “telephone peas.” Even additives like quinine would seem strange today.

During the nineteenth century, paper labels were produced in elaborate styles using various printing techniques. The raised, embossed label of the mid-nineteenth century, often found on tobacco boxes, needle cases, and fabric bolts, lost favor by the twentieth century because of the high cost of producing them.