Thursday Book Review: “Streetcar Advertising in America”

Streetcar Advertising in America is a recent release from Fonthill Media. This book is a beautiful representation early twentieth-century American advertisements. It contains over 250 full-color, restored and previously unpublished images. If you’ve ever been interested in vintage advertisements, you do not want to miss out on this book.

The images of streetcar advertisements in this book feature brands like Heinz, Sun-Maid, Coca-Cola, Campbells, and so many more.

Today’s review comes from Memphis: The City Magazine. You can view the original article on their website here.

*all images in featured .gif are from Streetcar Advertising in America (slideshow found at

Highly Recommended: “Streetcar Advertising in America”

Baron Collier may be the most famous Memphian you’ve never heard about.

By Vance Lauderdale


“…a remarkable volume…”

My pal Woody Savage has put together a remarkable volume called Streetcar Advertising in America. Some of this may be before your time, but in Ye Olden Days, people rode streetcars everywhere, and somebody figured out that not only did this mode of transportation provide a captive (and bored) audience for advertisers, but the streetcars themselves offered plenty of blank advertising space — right above the windows, inside.

And the person who hit upon this brilliant idea was a Memphian named Barron Collier (1873-1939), who is not only considered the inventor of ads for streetcars, but he is in fact regarded as one of the fathers of American advertising, building such a successful firm that he moved to Florida and became the largest landowner in the entire state. At one time, he owned more than one million acres of land in southern Florida. Yes, you read that right — one million acres.

“You need to buy Woody’s book,
which tells the remarkable story
of Barron Collier…”

Now, I could tell you more about him, but that would defeat my purpose here. You need to buy Woody’s book, which tells the remarkable story of Barron Collier, talks about the history of streetcar advertising, and also contains pages and pages of eye-catching examples of the best advertising of the day. The cover alone (shown here) just gives you a hint of the colorful treasures on display inside.

“The cover alone (shown here) just
gives you a hint of the colorful
treasures on display inside.”

You can order a copy from the nice website Woody has created, which also contains a slide show of the best ads from the book, and a handy order form. It’s a fine book, and you’ll enjoy it.

Streetcar Advertising in America
9781625450401You might be surprised to learn that many of the consumer brands and products we enjoy today exist because of streetcar advertising. The Industrial Revolution of the early 1900’s and a massive consumer audience riding over 50,000 streetcars in nearly 3,000 cities and towns in every state of the union provided a great opportunity for Barron Collier, a native of Memphis, Tennessee. He simply used streetcar advertising to bring these two forces together and created the largest streetcar advertising empire in the world. By age twenty-six, he was a millionaire and at one time had business offices in 70 cities with business interests in more than a thousand cities. Most of these advertising cards have remarkable color graphics; over 250 of them are included in this book for your viewing pleasure. While streetcar advertising is definitely not a major advertising medium today, the advertising community might be surprised to learn that the basic principles of consumer advertising have not changed that much in the last one hundred years. Investors might do well to review this book to see which companies are still producing these popular products and brands as they represent some of the most successful businesses in America today.
Available now. You can purchase a copy here on our website, or from any major bookseller.

“As a longtime trolley museum motorman, I have often observed the interest our passengers show in the vintage interior advertisements above the windows, the car cards. Now there’s a book on the history of car cards that fills a gap in the literature. Woodson Savage has been collecting car cards and researching their history…After relating the history of car cards, the majority of the book is devoted to a colorful gallery of the cards themselves. The color and reproduction on coated paper are excellent. Most of them are national brands, many of which survive today. The galleries are divided into product types, with histories of these ad campaigns. Savage’s personal collection can be viewed online at Savage. Savage has joined the Western Railway Museum, and is working with them to catalog and scan their 900-card collection….the book is well produced, fun to browse through and may deserve a place in your museum store.”
Tourist Railroads & Railway Museums, The Magazine of ATRRM

“A fascinating book which provided and insight into the emergence of modern America in the early part of the 20th century, as much as anything else… Color reproduction in the book is to an excellent standard and quite rightly so because its the adverts themselves that tell their own story.”
Coach and Bus Week


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