Here's two things that you might not know about.


First, Billboard Magazine was originally a trade publication for bill posters. These were the men (and perhaps a few women) that pasted posters and put billboards up around the country. Back in the 1890s there were only two ways to advertise. In newspapers and magazines, and with billboards. It was a big industry. It wasn't until later on that Billboard Magazine started writing about the things on those billboards, such as circuses, carnivals, minstrel shows and vaudeville.


Busby Bros Big One Ring Advertising Car - Note Paper Hangers & Brushes


Later on, it started to focus on the recording industry when records started to take off in sales.


But that's not what I wanted to tell you about. Sometime around 1895 a peculiar graphic started to be used as part of billboard advertisements.



This cartoon created a firestorm of controversy as many considered it vulgar and obscene. A number of communities banned it for it was to shocking to the sensibilities of late Victorian era America! I wonder what these folks would think of the kind of advertising we find commonplace today, and I wonder what future generations will think about that which we consider controversial?


I have never seen anything in print about the "SAY" posters except in the Billboard back in the 1890s. This is surprising since there was so many letters to the editor and editorials, both pro and con on this subject back in the day.


Courtesy of Todd Robbins


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