A popular monthly farm magazine, called Comfort Magazine was published by William Howard Gannett of Augusta, Maine, between 1888 and 1942. The magazine was a combination of today’s Reader’s Digest and Southern Living, and was aimed at rural housewives. What better place for the Gearhart Knitting Company to adverstise…
If you scan though an issue, the typical table of contents reads as follows. Fashions of the month – The women who came between – The Penfold Adventure – The grand champion canner – Sun dial – Luncheon set with buffet set to match – and page after page of advertisements including “Treatment for deafness, head noises and catarrh”.
This looks like the perfect place to sway the rural housewife into thinking about buying a Knitting Machine in order to supply her family and pick up some extra spending money on the side. So, the Gearhart Knitting Machine Company became one of the magazines oldest and reliable advertisers. In fact, Mr. Gannett, wrote a letter to Joseph Gearhart in 1916 tothank him for his business. Apparently, the Gearhart Knitting Machine Company and Montomery Wards (noted by E.J. Gearhart in some notes) were the first two companies still in business in 1916 that published in the magazine. Gearhart’s first ad appeared in the magazine in September, 1890.
The September 1890 advertisement would have been very similar, if not the same, as the advertisement from the archive shown here. This ad is for the first wooden machine priced at $3.50.
By the way, did you notice the note in the upper right corner of the letter? It says Defendant’s Ex “U”, 10/8/30. The Gearhart Knitting Machine Company was called into a court case long after it ceased operations, involving issues surrounding a general mail fraud complaint. The case came to nothing and was quickly dismissed. Things did not, however, come out so good for the Auto-Knitter Company who instigated many complaints from its customers, and rightfully so, for selling machines on false promises. I’m currently working on a posting involving the Auto-Knitter Company and how it put a sour note on this entire thriving cottage industry. More to come later.