This advertising is classified

Classified “want ads” were invaluable when selling or seeking jobs and services, places to live, things to buy, announcements of births, marriages and deaths etc.

Look­ing for a job? An apart­ment?  Got some­thing to sell? Want a used car or a new one? Need some­one with spe­cial skills? Today you might search on Craigslist or Kiji­ji but in the decades before the inter­net you could find just about any­thing in the local newspaper’s clas­si­fied ads—pages and pages of nar­row columns filled with tiny type. The head­lines weren’t much big­ger but they iden­ti­fied groups or “class­es” of advertisements.

Classified advertising as it appeared in newspapers
Listing of the classified columns in the newspapers

The 174 clas­si­fi­ca­tions in the Want Ad Index above include:

Arti­cles for sale and want­ed;  Bar­ber and Hair­dress­ing Schools; Camp sites and trail­er parks; Cater­ing and Recep­tions; Dra­mat­ic-Musi­cal Tal­ent; Dress­mak­ing & Fur Repairs, Tai­lor­ing, Alter­ations, Stor­age; Fumi­ga­tors and Exter­mi­na­tors; Hors­es, Live­stock, Poul­try Baby Chicks; Instruc­tion, Danc­ing, Edu­ca­tion­al, Musi­cal; Invest­ment Props., Wtd., Prop.Management; Patents & Copy­rights; Rooms to let; Ski Chalets for Rent & Want­ed; Swaps & Barter.

Clas­si­fied adver­tise­ments were sold by the word or by the line. The Star charged 75¢ a print­ed line, sol­id Agate type only. (An agate line is 114th of an inch.) The price per agate line dropped to 70¢ when the ad ran for 3 con­sec­u­tive days and to 65¢ per line when it ran for 6 con­sec­u­tive days.

These rates wer charged for the nor­mal text adver­tise­ments. Larg­er clas­si­fied advertisements—called “Clas­si­fied Dis­play”— were sold by the space used. They were dis­tin­guished by larg­er type, logos and bor­ders that could set them apart from oth­er adver­tis­ers. (See the illus­tra­tion at the top of the page.) The larg­er dis­play type was very limited.

Some­times the news­pa­per allowed the adver­tis­er to can­cel the adver­tise­ment ear­ly if the result was favourable, the job was filled or the used car was sold.

Used Car ads filled pages of the classified section

The special rules, the Automobile Advertising Standards and Principles,  for Used Car ads were “intended to increase the acceptance and believability of automobile advertising”

Hun­dreds  of clas­si­fied ads col­lect­ed by researcher and writer Sara Bad­er are pub­lished in her book Strange Red Cow: and oth­er curi­ous clas­si­fied ads from the past.

Ms. Bad­er was inter­viewed on Nation­al Pub­lic Radio in 2005. Lis­ten to the inter­view or read the tran­script HERE