Buy more saltpeter!

In the article about Humberstone, I had already shown a few of the placards which I found in the museum there.

Most of them were from the first decades of the 20th century. I quite like the graphic design and typography of that era. Another interesting aspect is the range of languages, from Arabic to Chinese. Globalization is nothing new, it seems.

Plakat englisch

Plakat deutsch.JPGPlakat Ägypten.JPGPlakat NLPlakat China.JPGPlakat arabisch oder persisch.JPG

Customers in India even got a parable with pictures. To the left is the family which treated its field with salpeter, for which they receive a full tobacco harvest, a fat cow and a casket of coins. To the right is the family which stuck to organic farming, for which they got their personal famine, a collapsing house and no jewelry for the wife.

Plakat Tabak Indien

Tobacco wasn’t frowned upon yet.

Plakat Zigaretten.JPG

The ads are dominated by information or naturalist depictions of sowing, harvesting and agricultural products. But some posters utilize drawings of attractive ladies who have nothing to do with the product at all. Until today, commercial artists lacking creativity apply this method to sell anything from cars to chainsaws.

Plakat Frau im Feld.JPGPlakat arabisch.JPGPlakat Frau Sichel

But this doesn’t work in all markets and cultural sensitivities have to be considered. Particularly German customers prefer figures, charts and statistics. For them, there was this poster from the very early 20th century which illustrated how the use of saltpeter from Chile greatly increased the apple harvest.

Plakat Statistik.JPG

An early form of the infographic, one could say.

But farmers in the Netherlands received something even more modern: an infomercial pressed on a record.


About Andreas Moser

Travelling the world and writing about it. I have degrees in law and philosophy, but I'd much rather be a writer, a spy or a hobo.
This entry was posted in Chile, Economics, History, Photography, Travel and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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