I’m not a fan of “collecting” ads nor nostalgic in any way for advertising itself.
The ads I want in my swipe file are ones I can model to help my own ads pull better and enhance the revenue of my business.
Since I’ve invested hundreds of hours compiling the largest swipefile of actionable direct response print ads, I also tend to buy swipefiles as well.
Usually, these collections have a sprinkling of relevant ads today but mostly, they contain a lot of “filler ads” from the early 20th Century. While there are some good headlines to be found and a few timeless ads — especially those by Max Sackheim, Claude Hopkins, Bruce Barton and Frank Irving Fletcher — they’re not something you can easily model for your business.
Moreover, there is no reason why you should pay for them since they’re only a click away right now.
Duke University has done a monumental job of scanning thousands of ads into their online database. Even though many of these ads don’t pass muster for the Ultimate Online Swipe File, there are numerous excellent ones to be found. Additionally, they have all been conveniently segmented by market category and are available for the low, low price of FREE.
J. Walter Thompson “House Ads” (160 ads) 1889-1925
Beauty and Hygiene (2,291 ads) 1911-1956
Pond’s (203 ads) 1882-1925
Here are the links to the two ads above.