Truth in Advertising: Wagener’s Sewing Machine

Advertising can be a hit-or-miss business sometimes. Some ads click with readers or viewers while others leave them simply unimpressed, or worse, make a negative connection to the object being advertised.

We recently ran across the advertisement below in the Daily Democrat and News from September 1862.

The large lettering for The War is Ended advertisement by J. A. Wagener and his sewing machine certainly caught our attention and most likely caught the attention of the newspaper’s original readers as well. In September 1862 the Civil War was raging and mass enlistment had just taken place in Davenport (and across the country).

As this advertisement ran in the local papers; the Maryland Campaign of the war was ongoing. The Battle of Harpers Ferry was fought September 12 – 15 while the Battle of Antietam, more commonly called the Battle of Sharpsburg in the South, was being fought to a bloody draw on September 17.

On that one day near Sharpsburg, Maryland over 3,600 Confederate and Union men died, 17,300 wounded and nearly 1,800 soldiers were missing or captured. It is known today as the bloodiest single-day battle in the Civil War.

We wish we knew the reaction to the advertisement as if coincided with such horrible events of the war. Were readers offended by it? Was it taken as a humorous break from the never ending dark news of the day?

Currently we have no answer to those questions. We look upon the ad with eyes and minds that know there were darker days ahead and many more lives to be lost. And so, we will leave it up to you to think of your reaction.

If you were reading this advertisement in September 1862 what would you have thought?

(posted by Amy D.)

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