Friday, August 7, 2009

The Country Store Advertising Collection

I can remember the little general store in Sabillasville Md. Actually, there were 3 of them, but the one I remember best was ole Charlie Shields' store. It had the penny candy store cases , the broom rack and so forth. So, when we started collecting advertising, it really was a walk down memory lane. At first I felt silly searching for old tins that should have been thrown away. Old tins were usually saved to store things in such as nails, buttons, you name it, a good old tin can was great for storing things. That is why they can still be found today. Before the Internet, one could still go into an old general store and buy the old , never used stock , stored in the basement. The first time I realized old tins etc were collectible was when my husband brought the contents of a basement of a store downtown Hagerstown. Well, boxes upon boxes of old tins never opened, little bags of kids' toys never hung on the racks. Boxes of figural celluloid tape measures...a large load of untouched inventory spanning 30 years from the 1940's to around 1970. I helped him display everything in the antique shop and when we were done, I was hooked. It looked just like a real country store. And so, the treasure hunt began. I wanted to find things that dated in the beginning of the 1900's era because although my memory of Charlie Shields store is from the 1950's to 1960's era, we lived in the country, so, his store really was a step back into time, even in those days. First, I started adding advertising items to the kitchen. Kitchens are perfect for advertising tins such as spice tins, coffee tins and old tin signs. Then, the downstairs was transformed from an office to a 2 room country store. It took many years to acquire the things in our collection. The photo shown shows just a small space. As you can see, that small space is filled with no room to spare...well, maybe a few more tins can be added here and there. Each piece is a special memory as to how I found it... and sometimes, I smile when I realize how I would begin searching for a particular type of item such as candy boxes, and how that search would become an obsession. It was not only wonderful to find those items, but to research the reason why they became so popular in their day. When we still owned the antique shop, country store collectors were the mainstay of our business. Almost everyone wanted to have that look added to their home. If not a country store decor, then the primitive country decor. Why ? Because it is a step back into the world of simpler times. When sitting at the wood stove on a cold winter day to talk about the things going on in town was the way news was gathered. Penny candy , the Fire Ball bubble gum, the old cigars the men enjoyed. The days when homemade Lye soap was in a barrel made by someone local as a way to supplement their income. We finally made room in our country store room for a card table and 4 wonderful leather chairs. The kind of table poker players would relax for hours playing poker. So, when life gets too hectic, or when I am tired and want to just get away from it all, I go to the country store...the one downstairs. I prop my feet up, lean back, close my eyes, and the world of yesteryear is with me once more.


  1. I love old tins. What a wonderful 'escape' room you've created!

  2. The old advertising is a form of art. The old Coca Cola ads are so colourful. I like the photo of the room with all the old advertising. This is a lovely blog post.