Published: April 12, 2021
Review by Greg Smith, Photos Courtesy Lyn Knight
OVERLAND PARK, KAN. – The giveaway has always been popular in American business. Grocery stores today offer “loss leaders,” McDonalds fishes with dynamite by offering toys to kids in their Happy Meals, and William Wrigley Jr’s Wrigley Company, founded in 1891 to sell its Scouring Soap, offered incentives in the form of baking powder. Buy this, get that. Who would complain? One thing led to another and the baking powder proved more popular than the soap. “Okay,” Wrigley thought, “We’ll sell baking powder then. But what to offer as an incentive?” Wrigley’s Gum was introduced, originally made out of chicle, which was sourced from Latin America. He offered two packs of gum per one can of baking powder. The shift would occur again when his gum proved more promising – and the rest is history.
Offered at Lyn Knight Auctions on March 30 was a single-owner collection of early Wrigley advertising prints sourced directly from the company archives. “He chose larger, graphically pleasing, visually appealing items of historical importance,” the auction house wrote of the consignor. “There are a variety of items from around the world, the earliest of which is from 1905. Virtually every item offered is from pre-1950 designs.”
Items were affordable and spanned the different products and designs that the company released. Selling for $390 was a Lik-Ris Chewing Gum box label measuring 5¾ by 8½ inches. The box advertised “true quality,” “true licorice” and promised to be “a tasty bit.”
At $252 was a piece of correspondence from WH Stanley, addressed to the Wrigley Company, including a sample for a 1920 gum jar label printed in Chinese. The letter indicates that the printer’s Shanghai agents had the labels printed to go inside of the Spearmint, Doublemint and Juicy Fruit jars. With the labels written in Chinese, the letter writer notes, “We are sending specimens of these labels herewith, having written on the book what we assume is the correct designation, although we are not sure.”
The 1921 Wrigley’s Peppermint hum box fly proved popular, with examples selling for $200, $180 and $120. The Sweet 16 gum box fly would also be popular and came in a variety of colors. Red Tolu examples sold for $200 and $156, a green Fruit example took $163 and an orange Peppermint example took the same.
Taking $192 was an original artwork submitted in May, 1935 for the design of the Dentyne Gum label. It appeared similar in color and shape to the Chicago Cubs logo, the baseball club that Wrigley became a majority owner of in 1921.
All prices reported include the buyer’s premium. For more information, www.lynknight.com or 913-338-3779.
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