Seven Items Advertised to European Explorers in 1883

The top seven items marketers advertised to European explorers exploring Africa in 1883. 

vintage leather boots in 1883 london
Leather Boots

Marketers actively promoted a range of items to European explorers for their expeditions into Africa in 1883. These practical and creative tools were marketed towards the individual traveler, settler, surveyor, missionary, mining camp worker, and for military expeditions aiding in exploring the African continent.

Items such as potted or canned meats, photographic equipment, pens, boots, tonic, and ointment medicines for use in Africa by European explorers were advertised through catalogs and showcased at international exhibitions.

Tonic Medicine advertisement from 1883
Tonic Medicine advertisement 1883

Dr. Lalor's Phosphorene Tonic Medicine

Dr. Lalor's Phosphorene, a tonic medicine, was awarded a Certificate of Merit at the Calcutta International Exhibition in 1883-1884. According to the claims made at the time, Dr. Lalor's Phosphoren was promoted as a remedy for supplying the Blood with its Electric Life Element phosphorus, providing a permanent cure for conditions such as brain wreckage, paralysis, sleeplessness, and harassing dreams. The tonic was also marketed to counter the premature decay of vital power for conditions related to fatigue and weakness.

Dr. Lalor's Phosphorene was used by European explorers in Africa to resist the enervating effects of hot climates, as it was advertised to contain herbs, roots, and other plant substances that help European bodies manage stress and restore balance after a stressful situation in Africa. 

Calvert's Carbolic Ointment 

Sold in jars and tins, Calvert's Carbolic Ointment was advertised with regular use at bedtime; it is an excellent precaution against mosquito and other insect bites and is refreshing to the skin. It is a good general remedy for sunburn, sore eyes, itch, cuts, burns, bruises, and skin ailments.

Fountain Swan Pen for Hot Climates

A pen for hot climates was advertised to Europeans for use in Africa by European explorers. The ink is consistently clear without cloudiness or impurities and maintains its purity and transparency, which is important for writing or drawing with clarity and precision. The Fountain Swan Pen was advertised as a high-quality ink that doesn't become murky or discolored over time, ensuring that it remains suitable, especially in artistic and written works. The Fountain Swan Pen advertised it does not evaporate, can be carried in the pocket, and writes the instant it touches the paper.

Canned Meat advertisement from 1883
Canned meat 1883

Canned Meats

European explorers, preparing for their journeys in Africa, were introduced to the convenience of potted or canned meats. These included Compressed Corned Beef, Prime Roast Beef, Compressed English Brawn, Gravy Soup Chicken Consomm√©, and Choice Brisket Beef Lunch Tongue. An advertisement emphasized the critical role of these provisions in the success of expeditions into new territories or the sustenance of remote camp life. 

The advertisement further highlighted that thanks to the remarkable advancements made by Armour & Company in food preservation, the hardships and monotony of traditional diets, which earlier explorers had to endure, were now avoidable. Armour & Company's range of products, among others, were deemed perfectly suitable for transportation to even the most inaccessible regions, making exploration and life in remote areas more manageable.

Bovril Beef Spread

Bovril, a trademarked product, was created in the 1870s by John Lawson Johnston. Bovril was promoted for its ability to maintain its nourishing qualities. As a result, it became a staple provision for significant expeditions departing from Great Britain. Bovril was known to revitalize the entire system rapidly, making it highly valued for individuals experiencing fatigue or low energy. It was praised for its excellent flavor, cost-effectiveness, nutritional value, and convenience. Notably, Bovril remained in good condition in hot climates even after being opened, making it a valuable asset for exploring parties.

Norris Ladies' and Gentlemen's British Boots

Norris's British Boots were hand-sewn and famous for comfort, durability, and appearance. They were made of brown willow calf and glace kid boots for warm climates. Norris British Boots were advertised as especially suitable for travelers. No Laces to break. Easily and quickly put on and taken off. Mr. C. DAVIS in Uganda wrote a review stating  Norris Boots are most good as the boots keep beautifully soft, although constantly wet, and wear really well."

Camera Equipment

Kodak revolutionized African exploration with its cameras and photographic technology. Kodak cameras, along with Roll Films, Plates, and Printing Papers, enjoyed widespread popularity among European explorers for their intended use in Africa. These explorers were captivated by the prospect of capturing the breathtaking landscapes, indigenous cultures, and exotic wildlife of the continent. Consequently, these photographic tools and materials were heavily promoted to cater to the artistic and documentary aspirations of those embarking on African voyages.

Camera Equipment advertisement from 1883
Camera Equipment 1883

Advertisements directed to Europeans for traveling to Africa were placed in newspapers, magazines, and trade publications. 

Many companies, particularly those offering photographic equipment and supplies, distributed catalogs that showcased their products, specifications, and pricing. These catalogs were often sent to individuals and institutions interested in purchasing the items.

Companies often create brochures and pamphlets specifically highlighting the benefits and applications of their products. These materials were distributed to potential customers and businesses.

Items were showcased at international exhibitions and trade shows, such as the Calcutta International Exhibition in 1883-1884, where Dr. Lalor's Phosphorene received an award. Companies selling these items often relied on a network of agents and suppliers who promoted the products to potential buyers, including explorers and expeditions.

Positive reviews and recommendations from other explorers, travelers, or professionals who had used these items in Africa could also influence potential buyers. Direct correspondence between companies and potential customers, including explorers and expedition organizers, played a crucial role in marketing these items.

European explorers in 1883
European explorers in 1883

Places European explorers in Africa in 1883 Were Exploring.

Explorers like Henry Morton Stanley and David Livingstone were active in the central regions of Africa, particularly around the Congo River basin. They sought to map uncharted territories and locate the source of the Nile River. The exploration of East Africa was significant, with expeditions aiming to chart the Great Lakes region and investigate the potential for trade routes.

Exploring West Africa was critical for understanding the continent's geography and cultures. European explorers ventured into areas like the Niger River basin and the Sahara Desert. European explorers looking for mineral wealth, including those from the British Cape Colony, explored southern regions, including modern-day South Africa, Botswana, and Zimbabwe. 

Missionary work in 1883 was a significant aspect of European engagement with Africa. Missionaries from Christian denominations played a pivotal role in spreading Christianity, providing education, and engaging in humanitarian efforts across the continent. They established churches, mission stations, and schools as centers for religious instruction and worship throughout Africa.


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