Salt Lake Mailing & Printing Blog

History of Direct Mail Part 5

In 1818, George Clymer of Philadelphia brought his invention, the Columbian printing press, to Great Britain. There he received a patent for the press, which he took back to the Americas to use for advertising. This represents the strong interest, even at that early time, in direct advertising.

But direct advertising, in America, did not begin in earnest until 1865, at the close of the Civil War. At that time, the almanac became the most popular means for advertising. Additionally, mail order companies were sending price lists to describe items they had for sale.

In 1875, just ten years later, the photo-engraving process made the use of pictures more available and affordable. This meant that mail order companies could add pictures to their price lists. Thus, the catalogue was born.

The printing industry was fast becoming big business, in America. In 1888, there were several thousand publishers. The Arkansas Press Association wrote to these thousands of publishers seeking to establish communication amongst them all.

Direct advertising forms began to work together, such as the 3rd issue of Printer’s Ink, in 1888, that mentioned a handbook published by a Boston newspaper company. The 7th issue of Printer’s Ink described a guide-book of New York City that could be purchased at the Grand Union hotel. And as these combined advertising efforts proved effective, the practice continued to expand, year after year.

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