A lot of the billboards that now grace our streets and pavements are now owned by multinational corporations, which are keen to capitalize on our growing reliance on smartphones and tablets.
But for a long time, the signs were still made by hand in Melbourne, Victoria, where the city’s former advertising commissioner, Bob Copley, remembers the era.
“There were many signs that were produced in the 1920s.
We have quite a lot of them in the city now,” he says.”
I can remember there being one that was made in Adelaide called ‘The Old Man and The Black Sheep’,” he said.”
It was a big ad for the Adelaide Cup cricket team, and there was a lot more to it.”
In the early days, they would take the sign that had a horse, and they would have it printed in a particular size for the horse.
“And if the horse died, the sign would say, ‘Oh, it’s just a horse’.”
The sign was printed at the Adelaide Post Office in Adelaide, which was owned by the company that was going to buy the paper at the time.
“The horse was going out of style, and the sign was going into the scrap heap.”
You would go down to the scrap pile and you’d find the old horse.
“Copley says he remembers the sign, and its story, being written about in the Herald Sun at the height of the Victorian War of Independence, when the nation was still a part of the Empire.”
We had a war on the streets,” he said with a laugh.”
That was a very bad time, and we didn’t have much to go on, but it was just a story to tell.
“The Herald Sun, which is owned by News Corp, has been around for over 70 years.”
They had the war going on and we were in a period of political upheaval, so there was lots of newspapers that were out there,” he continued.”
People were taking advantage of that and they printed things that were going to be used in the war, and it just went on.
“Mr Copleyns grandfather, John Copleys, had a similar story.”
He used to have a horse,” he remembers.”
One day he’d get home, and he’d be in bed, and his wife would wake him up and he would get up and walk around the house and she would go ‘Where did he go?’ and he wouldn’t tell her, but he’d say ‘I’m getting home to my wife and my horse’.
“John Copleies grandfather also remembered the time of the old sign being printed in Adelaide.”
This is when it was printed in the Adelaide Herald,” he explained.”
Adelaide Post Office was the biggest paper in the state, and when the war was over, they just took it and left it in the dust.
“Consequences of advertising in the era: “When you see it, you see a lot.