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Outdoor Advertising Thermometers Evoke Nostalgia

Aug 23, 2008
In the early days of the nineteen hundreds, the outdoor advertising thermometer became a fixture of early brand name development. While we look back with nostalgia at those bygone days, it is easy to see how the once ubiquitous outdoor thermometer has gone from memory to memorabilia.

Long before television and the internet and before true mass marketing, advertisers and business struggled to become known. At the turn of the Twentieth Century, America was primarily a nation of small towns and farms. Big cities had all the trappings of what was then mass communication in daily newspapers, billboards and brand name retail stores. In addition to word of mouth, newspaper advertising was the primary means of creating brand identifications.

Early practitioners of advertising and marketing were literally writing the book as they went. Reaching out with a message about a product or service was made easier in urban centers with large concentrations of people. With newsstands on every corner, radio and even billboards, it was easy to get thousands of eyes on a message in a relatively short period of time.

In contrast, news and information came more slowly to rural America. Retail and mercantile activities were centered around the local repair garage, general store, church or farmers grange. Without far flung rail lines and highways goods moved as slowly as the news. So these local gathering spots became the place to catch up local news, juicy tidbits of gossip and even predictions about the weather.

The early Twentieth Century was considered by many as the golden age of the traveling salesman. Sales representatives would go from town to town and door to door offering goods and services. It became customary to leave behind metal signs and advertising thermometers featuring the product or manufacturers brand name. Vintage advertising thermometers were particularly popular since the devices were decorative and functional.

Many of todays most famous brand names began as simple metal and porcelain advertising thermometers. Makers of farm equipment, soda pop, soap, crop seeds and other products discovered the power of branding. Production and distribution of promotional items such as advertising thermometers were considered the same as any other type of advertising and promotion. Like a billboard or any other type of advertising that relies on visual clues combined with repetition, the outdoor advertising thermometer found a special place in rural America.

Original outdoor advertising thermometers were often made of high quality materials. Enamel over metal was a popular design and made for a rugged, durable thermometer. Later, less expensive versions may have been nothing more than painted metal. The older enamel and metal thermometers are of particular interest to collectors and enthusiasts of all things Americana. Certain brands names are also more collectible than others, especially if the company or brand no longer exists

Many of the original designs of classic outdoor thermometers are no longer in production and are highly prized among collectors. There are some vintage outdoor thermometers that can fetch several hundred dollars. Obviously those vintage outdoor thermometers in good condition could be worth more than those with a little rust or damage.

Today there is a wide variety of quality reproductions. Many reflect the bygone heyday of rural America while others capture more modern cultural themes. Vintage outdoor advertising thermometers are a great way to accent your porch or patio.

Nautical decor designs are popular and the thermometer is often combined with a barometer and humidity gauge. Birdhouses, garden gnomes, weather vanes and many other designs can brighten your yard or patio.
About the Author
Mitch Endick is a staff writer for the quality internet shopping site Outdoor Thermometer. Outdoor Thermometer offers a fun selection of vintage outdoor thermometers for your home.
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