Years ago, one of my favourite comics was called ‘Victor’. At this time, during the 1960s, there were lots and lots of comics, which were read by lots and lots of boys.
And of course, with so many publications which reached so many boys, there were bound to be lots and lots of advertisements. Some were for games to pass the infinite time of childhood. This is one of the best known:
But that wasn’t the only one:
The majority of adverts were for hobbies:
One hobby which I always found quite bizarre involved miniature metal steam engines. One of the more familiar names was ‘Mamod’ although other types were also available:
The biggest money earner was surely philately. It was as if every boy in the country was a keen collector of postage stamps. First of all though, you had to buy an album:
Stamp collecting taught you a lot though. Where all the countries were. What language they used, and quite often a word or two of that language. You learnt if the language had a different alphabet. I could tell Chinese from Korean and so could a lot of other 10 year old boys. It was easy to be familiar with the different states of India or Malaysia and all those exotic sounding islands of the West Indies. And stamps were so easily obtainable:
They sold stamps by the Approvals method. This involved your being a member of, say, the Wulfruna Club, to quote the advert above. You were sent a little booklet full of stamps, usually in sets, all of which were priced at sums below five shillings (two weeks’ pocket money approximately). You could buy some stamps yourself or see if your friends wanted to buy any. You sent the money back to the Wulfruna Club by postal order. There were bonus stamps available if you sold more than a certain amount’s worth of stamps, or if you recruited your friends to the club. On one occasion, I received bonus stamps from Bahawalpur, one of the states of Pakistan, for recruiting two other boys to the club.
Here is a final three part advert which mentions not just postage stamp approvals but also matchbox covers. A lot of boys collected either matchboxes or cigarette packets but I wasn’t allowed to pick them up off the pavement because there might be germs involved. Anyway, here’s the advert:
Keen eyed detectives of the future or past will note that their advert also offers tuition in conjuring. There are few things in life more boring than a Member of the Magic Circle but, more worryingly perhaps, how would a stupendous world beating conjurer still be living in Stoke-on-Trent?
Unless, of course, you investigate with that Google thing whereby you walk down the street and discover that Whitfield Road is really the Las Vegas of the North Midlands.