Clare Briggs’ Kids All Cleaned Up to Sell Clothes

Clare Briggs was not above using his characters in marketing, as can be seen in this 1917 ad for the B&M clothing store in Iowa City. Briggs’ kids are usually a bit ragged around the edges and in need of a bath, but he’s cleaned them up here and decked them out in the finest the B&M has to offer.

Given that a small clothing store in Iowa City is unlikely to have made a deal with Briggs on their own, I guess the cartoonist was offering niche-specific pre-made cuts through a marketing firm. He probably got the idea from Richard Outcault, who made a very nice cottage industry out of selling cuts of the Yellow Kid and Buster Brown to local stores of various specialties.

Thanks to Cole Johnson for the scan.

2 comments on “Clare Briggs’ Kids All Cleaned Up to Sell Clothes

  1. Hello Allan-
    This will show you how annoying and petty someone with time on his hands can be.
    You mention above that My brother sent you the Briggs ad from an Iowa City paper. He, or I never had papers from that town, though I had a run of a Dubuque paper of that vintage. So I did a little research to see if that paper carried ads for a town twenty or more miles distant. But the problem is, there's no such address in either city, outside of very rural, very short country lane that would never have had a store on it.
    In fact, I found "The B & M" clothing store at 201-3 S Adams Street is (or was) in Peoria, Ills. The ad had to have come from a small batch of the Peoria Journal-Transcript we had from the opening months of 1917. I "Google Map"ed the address, and whatever the "B & M" store looked like, it's been replaced by a bland, modern two story structure bearing the words "Illinois Central College" on it's surface. Fugit inreparabile tempus.

  2. Ya got me dead to rights, Mark. Cole did not tell me what paper it was from, and I spent a ridiculous amount of time when prepping this post trying to figure out where this d**n B&M was located. I thought I had finally found it in Iowa City, but it may be that I was looking at an Iowa City paper and they were referring to Peoria, though that seems a pretty fur stretch. According to Mr. Goog, it is 153 miles distant.

    Well, if I have to make a mistake, mislocating a long-defunct midwest clothing store is exactly the sort of fact I'd like it to be on!

    Thanks, Allan

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