Whitehead and Hoag was a premier advertising novelty company . This is not to say that they did not have competitors -they did. This is to say that the size, scope and quality of their product line was and still is the gold standard that field.
I have blogged about W&H in the past but due to the limited amount of their products in my collection I was unable to effectively illustrate even a minute portion of their output. I was fortunate to have met Robert “Bob” Miller who graciously agreed to let me showcase some of his extensive collection.
The question was, where to start? W&H produced brochures( they had over 5,000 items in their product lines). There are salesman samples. There are various products with Whitehead & Hoag inscribed on them. These were given away to advertise the company and its product line. Then there were the actual products produced for their clients. Letters sent to salesmen and clients, invoices, letterhead ,envelopes and the list goes on and on. Just to be clear, they wanted their name on everything they produced. A client paid more if they would not agree to allowing the discreet placement of Whitehead & Hoag on the object .Where to begin?
Bob agreed to pick a sampling watches and key fobs. Fobs were all the fashion in the early 20th Century. Businesses gave them away to customers as a way of advertising their products. The watch fob was ideal for this purpose as they were used almost daily. Watch fobs are characterized by a flat hole on the top just large enough to admit a thin leather strap holding a watch at the other end. While there are other types involving chains and clips, this is the classic style. Key fobs , are similar but have a small round hole at top suitable for a small chain. While fobs run the gamut of American industry and commerce, I have limited my selection to a few examples.
Among my sampling is the Whitehead & Hoag “Juliette Design”. Targeting a mostly male audience , in a far more conservative time, Whitehead & Hoag introduced Juliette – a buxom young lady with wildly flowing hair and with no visible garments. Tame by today’s standards, she was quite risque in her day. Juliette was so popular that a competitor , Bastian Brothers, rolled out their own version of Juliette.