Vintage Ads: Barbed Wire Advertisement

Although a few barbed wire advertisemtns appeared in the 1870s, most vintage ads for barbed wire date from the 1880s.


| May 2006



vintage ads - Glidden barbed wire advertisement with a railroad theme

This color ad from the 1880s appears to target railroads.

Ellwood House Museum

Fencing the land became an obsession with landowners during the late 1860s. Between 1866 and 1868, more than 300 non-barbed wire fence patents were issued. The advent of metal wire fencing with points, which could be manufactured economically by machine in huge quantities, set off a boom in fencing all across the U.S.

Of interest is the fact that barbed wire advertisement was rare before 1880. This was probably the result of three factors: extensive patent legal wrangling among companies and inventors; demand for wire in excess of production capacity; and to avoid conflict with that portion of the public who did not approve of the "prickly barrier" perceived to be dangerous to livestock.

Black-and-white barbed wire ads appeared in the late 1870s. I.L. Ellwood & Co. used color images in 1880 to promote Glidden barbed wire. Vintage ads for Glidden Steel Barb Wire seem directed at railroads, many of which had not fenced their right-of-ways at that time, or use a circus theme to emphasize their effectiveness for confining animals. FC


Images courtesy of the Devil's Rope Museum, McLean, Texas. The original versions are part of the Ellwood House Museum collection, DeKalb, Ill.

Advertisements from many farm publications printed at the turn of the 20th century were more than mere methods to hawk tractors and farm equipment. To share those ads from days gone by, Farm Collector periodically reproduces some of the most-spectacular ads used to promote farm equipment and products.