Friday, June 12, 2009
A gentleman of education and good address, and every inch a man, an importer in this city but who is nearly bankrupt, from crediting the South, previous to the present war, is desirous of making the acquaintance of a lady of means, with a view to matrimoney and a reestablishment of his business to its original position. Communications addressed to Merchant, Station D, will be treated with the utmost confidence and sincerity by the advertiser.
Okay, in all likelihood when he describes himself as "every inch a man," he probably doesn't mean what immediately came into my head, but hey, I have to get you people coming back somehow. And while it is doubtful, you really never know. References to the size of men's genitals is not a recent phenomenon.
In the extremely unlikely event that that is what he was referring to it would be pretty friggin' awesome. After all, it doesn't sound like he's got anything else to offer. As I mentioned a few days ago, it wasn't uncommon to see ads from men or women mentioning money, this one is a lot more businesslike. No mention of being kind-hearted, loving, affectionate, or anything else along those lines - nor is he interested in what the woman is like so long as she has "means." I guess it's nice that he's being honest!
One last thing to note is the reference to the Civil War. One of the interesting things I've found about these ads is that if you read ones from the 1860s not knowing what year they were written, in most cases you'd have no idea that there was a war going on. Most of the papers I'm working with are Northern, and it's really fascinating to see how little the war was apparently affecting people's lives. Bertram, for example, was writing in 1864. You wouldn't think he'd be talking about love and romance and soulmates as the bloodiest war in American history was going on, even if it was winding down by that time! We see the Civil War as this momentous, life-altering event for most Americans - and so it was - so it is strange to recognize that there were a lot of people apparently living in this isolated bubble.
And here's the next installment of the Sadda and Ladda series: "Who are Sadda and Lalla Rang? Can anyone tell?" This is where it starts getting interesting; now the advertisers are directly addressing the audience. I could go into how and why this is so cool, but I'll spare you.
Having trouble reading the ads? Click one to enlarge!
©2009 Pam Epstein