Crazy old ads…

May 18, 2010

Olivia got caught sneaking out of the attic again.  This time she thought she’d be sly and come down the rickety steps to the wine cellar which might have been a good idea seeing as how it was early Saturday morning.  Except she didn’t count on her Papa working early that day, until, that is, she ran into his chest as she opened the door directly facing the sun. 

This time she was sneaking out with her ‘treasure’, 100+ year old town newspapers.  After the standard lecture about the dangers of the grenier and how she mustn’t touch things that don’t belong to her, this time explaining about the age, “This one is older than Papi,” Raphael said.  “Papi’s papa was only 10 year’s old.” of the items she was swiping, Raphael and I had a look at the papers.  

The oldest is dated August 26, 1894.  Usually sold for 5 centimes an issue, this one, issue #9 of Le Riverain Agricole, cost a whopping 10 centimes because of the headline, a special competition, Concours Agricole Artistique et Industriel.   

I opened to the inside spread and given the name of the paper, expected to see articles on harvesting, treating various plants, animals for sale – anything and everything to do with agriculture.  Hélas no.  These are some of the headlines from inside:  Cronique Littéraire – Les Livres Sensuels.  I read most of this articles which talks about writers (they use the word artists) who put their characters in positions of ‘fièvres lacives et grisantes’, lascivious and exhilarating fevers.  “The women are disheveled and crazy with passion,” the articles author wrote.  The men, well, the word translates to minced meat pie and then the author gives an example of the male characters in a popular novel of the time.  I guess these books were not taboo in the late 1800’s in France since the article seems to praise them and goes on to suggest titles and authors to read.  A surprising article for an agriculture newspaper.

Another article was titled “Aux Etrangère“, the strangers, and went on to explain all the wonderful things to do and see in this ‘charming city,’ but with a poetry only the French could write, “Coquettement parée comme une femme…” Adorned coquettishly like a women…” was one description of the city.  The paper also included a small ditty to sing entitled, “You will love me a little.” 

The back page is devoted to advertisements.  Some of the names we recognized;  a current winemaker, who’s family, according to this ad, once fabricated wine filters.  There is a nice sized ad for the town public baths.  “Open all day from 5 am to 7 pm.  For 60 centimes, one can take an ordinary bath without towel and for 5 francs one can have a card for 10 baths.”  And let’s not forget the ad more the ‘marvellous hair lotion,’ with a 100,000 franc offer to the person who could prove the ineffectiveness of this lotion! 

The next two papers Olivia had were from 1946 and 1949 by which time the Riverain Agricole had become just the Riverain and cost 6 francs.  By 1949, the ads and articles resembled a local paper of today announcing a concours de boules, the local soccer scores, and, of course, the possibility to purchase vegetables which heal, price 90 francs, although they didn’t say what the vegetables were nor what they healed.



  1. I’ve enjoyed reading your blog. Sounds like life has truly blessed you, we have gorwn up to be very blessed and lucky women, haven’t we?

  2. Enjoy your blog! No mention about the war in the 1940s papers? I would definitely keep those papers. As a historian, I am always looking for collections like those. You can also donate them to the local library or general archive for future historical use. What a fantastic find!

    • I was surprised as well, that there was no mention of the war in the 1946 paper. Maybe they were looking towards a lighter note after all the hardships. My father-in-law has many stories about the war. Maybe I’ll share some of them sometime.

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