Saturday, September 24, 2011

Deconstructing Old Ads: Al Foss (1916)

Al Foss 1916
1916 is the generally accepted date for Al Foss's introduction as a commercial producer of fishing lures. The first advertisement presented here comes from the May 1916 issue of National Sportsman and has to be one of Al's earliest efforts. It featuring the only two baits that Foss started with; the Skidder and the Little Egypt Wiggler. As we have mentioned before Al Foss was a famous and highly regarded tournament caster and it seems that he, as well as other tournament casters that went into the lure business, usually started with small, often metal, baits, that were easy to cast due to their weight and little air resistance. Examples: Fred Arbogast, William Stanley, Tony Accetta, Lloyd J Tooley etc.

Al Foss was a different sort of person and his personality was reflected over the years in his advertising. I find myself laughing at many of his ads as they contain everyday language that one does not often see in formal advertising. Lines such as "makes them strike on general principles" and waters that are "fished to a frazzle."  In addition to many large, often full page, advertisements, Al seems to have struck up a deal with most editors that if he placed a large ad in their magazine, they would also place a small (often one sentence) ad in the same issue as space would permit. These smaller ads often reflect Al's sense of humor. As an illustration of the early occurrence of this phenomenon, the following two are presented here. The first from the June 1916 issue of National Sportsman (compliments of Jerry Martin) and the second from the July 1916 issue of Outdoor Life. You can't make these things up.

-- Bill Sonnett

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