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July 2007 - I See A Nice Little Earner

 Wage earner advertisement


Here's an interesting example of advertising from exactly one hundred years ago this month. The suggestion is that you can increase the size of your pay packet simply by purchasing the correct spectacles. It will not only make your work easier but you'll do it better too. We doubt the correlation was ever so direct.

The optician claims: From a purely business-point view, the purchase of glasses well repays those who need them. This claim would have held the attention of employees across the district. The possibility of losing a job and bringing in a reduced wage or no wage at all was scary. Remember the fledgling National Insurance scheme was still four years into the future and you had to earn as much as you could, whilst you could, because Old Age Pensions were still an idea in Lloyd George's mind.

The clipping which, as you'll note, has suffered a bit over the past century, was one of a series of press adverts placed by Barnett in local trades directories. Another punchy claim he made about spectacles was: If not exactly right, they may do you harm instead of good. You might even be at risk in the workplace: My experience and  methods ensure your safety,and heaven forbid, When the eyes have worked too hard under unfavourable conditions they often refuse to do their work. It was thus a 'prudent precaution' to avail yourself of his services, lest your eyes go on strike.

Barnett describes himself in quasi-medical language as a 'consulting' optician. He is no working man, but a professional, and he is at pains to emphasise his two sets of professional qualifications, each of them barely a decade in existence, and the fact that he has actually earned his on merit rather than merely be elected to membership by his peers. In all his advertisements he stresses that your sight will be 'scientifically tested' as opposed to the trial-and-error methods still on offer in chemists across the nation. All this would take place in what was then, and to some extent still is, the Lancashire seaside resort's poshest shopping street. Today the address is a chocolate shop where presumably the only 'serious damage' that occurs is to your teeth.

Look up 'Barnett' in our online catalogue to find his other advertisements and look out in future months for additional advertising ephemera being added to the database from his competitors and successors in the same town including George Crook, F.A. Neubert and Cecil Barrett.

These adverts which we are in the process of cataloguing all date from the period 1905-1910 and were collected by Frederick W. Young, an optician from Worthing on the South Coast but who had 'Friends in the North'. Together with Young's own promotional material they form a fascinating snapshot of commercial competition in the early days of the optometric profession.

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      1. May 2010 - Optically-themed currency
      2. April 2010 - The Spectacle of the Two Cultures
      3. March 2010 - Adaptive Eyewear for the Third World
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      5. January 2010 - Doctor Cupid
      6. December 2009 - Tactile Christmas Card
      7. November 2009 - An Implanted Eye
      8. October 2009 - Photographs of Japanese Dogu Figures
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      24. June 2008 - Nélys Nose Pads
      25. May 2008 - Bronze Statuette
      26. April 2008 - The IOOL
      27. March 2008 - Polish Health Service Spectacles
      28. February 2008 - Polarographic Cell
      29. January 2008 - The unintended memorial
      30. December 2007 - Christmas past...Christmas present
      31. November 2007 - A book to bring tears to your eyes
      32. October 2007 - Give that man a medal
      33. September 2007 - A Jug Eyed Character
      34. August 2007 - Instructions for the Deaf
      35. July 2007 - I See A Nice Little Earner
      36. June 2007 - We wouldn't make this up
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