Saturday, June 4th, 2016...10:00 am

Advertising just ain’t what it used to be

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It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes I yearn for The Good Old Days. Consider this advertising flier, which our intrepid sheet music surveyor Dana Gee discovered during her inventory of the Historical Sheet Music Collections of Houghton Library and the Harvard Theatre Collection.

HTCE 8 caption

Illustrated by Louis Wain, who created many beloved cat illustrations during the Edwardian era, this flier sets up a “ghost story,” told by the night watchman of a piano factory. Specifically (before discovering that he’d fallen asleep on the job and was dreaming) this watchman tells a harrowing tale of mice run amok on the keys of the pianos out on the factory floor. And what are they playing? THREE BLIND MICE (please click to enlarge if you cannot see the noteheads clearly).

HTCE 8 music

There isn’t a single piano illustrated in this flier, but it’s still making me want to patronize Ivers & Pond Piano Co., in the Masonic Temple, 183 Tremont Street, Boston! Job well done, I’d say.

Now, the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts is still at Tremont and Boylston, might that be the very place where these mice ran amok in 1893? Sadly no; the current building was opened in 1899. Ah well, I‘ll just have to go back to wanting that glossy Steinway concert grand …

[Thanks to Andrea Cawelti, Ward Music Cataloger, for contributing this post.]

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