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Two for the price of one!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Heh. This one makes me laugh. I guess if two people want to get married, why not print an ad together and save the money? It's just who these two people are that's amusing. The ad reads:

Matrimony. - A widower and his nephew, having about eight thousand dollars, liberal and good morals, are desirous of forming the acquaintance of two ladies, having some means, with a view to matrimony. Address, stating particulars and how situated, confidentially, to save time, Happiness, box 153 Herald office. References exchanged.

A widower and his nephew. Oookay. Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course, it's just kind of funny. Plus, a little vague, right? Do they want two separate women, or a pair of friends, or sisters (or a widow and her niece)? How old are these guys? Presumably the nephew is somewhat younger, but by how much? And they could be, like, 45 and 25, or they could be 75 and 60. But that complicates things, because if a woman is interested, how does she know which one to address? Maybe she should just write one letter and take the one who's closer to her age. How romantic! Also, I'm confused by what they mean by "to save time." Are they saving time by sending the letters to the Herald office instead of a post office (I have no idea why that would make a difference)? Saving time by printing an ad jointly and getting all the letters at once? What if a letter comes from someone they both find really intriguing? Who gets first dibs?

Am I asking too many questions? It actually wasn't uncommon for men and women to print ads with friends (or, much less frequently, with relatives). It would save money, of course, and then they could all go on double dates or something. This caused a lot of dismay for outsiders, who didn't like the penny-pinching nature of saving money by posting an ad jointly. They also wondered what would happen if there were three young ladies who wanted to get married but only two attractive men who wrote back, a scenario which was the source of much amusement, a sentiment I share.

Having trouble reading the ads? Click one to enlarge!

©2009 Pam Epstein

3 comments:

Sam Loth July 28, 2009 at 7:52 PM  

I'm thinking if you were a woman in that time you had to be dancing on the edge already to be answering these ads. So, it would be interesting to learn what percentage of 'straight' ads vs 'unique' ads were published over a stretch of say, 5 years!

Melinda July 30, 2009 at 12:54 AM  

Maybe they just wanted to skip the formalities and get right down to the nitty gritty about their "particulars". That way they can speed up the sorting process.

Maya August 3, 2009 at 2:56 PM  

That's what I thought - 'save time' was 'tell us what you've got so we don't waste time with you'.

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