I must admit to indulging in a bit too much anniversaic history of late but the Anglophile in me cannot resist today’s anniversary of Queen Victoria’s accession (in 1837) especially as her successor just had such a big show. I’ve just discovered the most interesting Salem connection as well: the Queen’s third cousin, Dr. Ernst Bruno de Gersdorff, left his native Germany shortly after his graduation from medical school and in the midst of the revolutions of 1848, and wound up here, where he began what looks like a very successful homeopathic medical practice and married the sister of one of the wealthiest and most prominent men in town, Judge Joseph Choate, who would later be appointed American ambassador to Great Britain! A small world of connected people in the transatlantic Victorian Age.
It’s the Queen’s day, not the doctor’s, so I want to pull up some images from my teaching files, featuring the very commercial Victoria as pitchman to the world, at the very peak of the British Empire. Here is the Queen/Empress of India/safeguard of the Constitution selling oats, soap, stoves, cloth, and cigarettes (produced by both British and American manufacturers) in the 1880s and 1890s.
Victorian advertising ephemera from the John Johnson Collection at the Bodleian Library, Oxford University, the British Library, the British Museum, Duke University’s Digital “Emergence of Advertising in America” Collection, and the New York Public Library Digital Collection.