Historical Telescope Advertisements Evaluation

The telescope is by no means a new invention. In fact, the telescope has been around since the mid-1600s. However, only since World War II have telescopes been more widely advertised for the amateur or common individual. Many such advertisements appeared in popular science and astronomy magazines, such as Sky and Telescope. Major telescope companies of the time included Sky Scope and, in later years, Criterion and Palomar Jr. The differences and similarities amongst advertisements for these companies reflect the how consumer and intellectual values stayed the same and changed over time.

One of the first telescope advertisements for the amateur appearing following World War II was published by Sky Scope. In the advertisement, Sky Scope markets its three and one-half inch Astronomical Telescope. The advertisement is without a picture of its product and the advertisement is in black and white. Nonetheless, the size and type of font used in the advertisement varies throughout the page in order to draw attention to certain details. Major details, such as the name of the company, the price, and the product features, are in bold and are in a larger font than the rest of the advertisement. In contrast, contact information is not in bold print and information regarding how to learn more about Sky Scope’s products is in bold.

Sky Scope’s advertisement also establishes ethos, logos, and pathos. Ethos is established by the contact information and company name in addition to the phrase. Information regarding product details and the price are the foundation for logos of the advertisement. Furthermore, phrases like “amateurs everywhere are talking about” and “we invite you” lend pathos to the advertisement in that the one statement appeals to consumers desire to keep up with what is popular and the other statement establishes an amicable relationship between consumers and the company. Thus, the advertisement would have been influential probably for young adults and older due to its lack of visual appeal but straightforwardness and effective usage of rhetoric.

A few social implications can also be drawn from this advertisement. For instance, the price of the telescope is only $25. A small price compared to the price of telescopes for amateurs today and products in general. Therefore, it may be reasonably concluded inflation has increased in the United States since World War II. It may also be assumed that the period after World War II was a time of propriety and efficiency in that the advertisement does not dally but gets straight to the details of the product and even mentions that one may request “a brochure describing in a straightforward manner the instrument’s amazing performance.”

Advertisements for Criterion and Co.’s Dynascope first appeared in 1954. Dynascope was marketed as the first professional four inch telescope. The advertisement does is supported by a picture of the product. Similarly to the Sky Scope advertisement, the advertisement is in black and white, and the text is represented in varying sizes and type of print in relation to its level of significance. Ethos is imparted by the company’s name, description, and contact information. The advertisement largely draws upon the picture of the product to establish logos by using numbers and a legend of the numbers to list product features. The price of the product is another example of logos. For the most part, the advertisement utilizes pathos to appeal to consumers. For example, the product is introduced as “At last! A Complete Professional Telescope for Amateur Astronomers,” appealing to consumers’ interest in novelty as well as to show enthusiasm for the product. Other features of the product and the price of the product are also described with phrases such as “unheard of” and “you won’t believe” in the further interest of pathos in the advertisement. The overall message of the pathos is that you will have the best telescope around for the best price if you buy this telescope; that is, you will be on top of the amateur astronomer community.

There are three major social implications I infer from this advertisement. In the same way as Sky Scope emphasized the low price of its product, Criterion and Co. emphasizes the low price of its product. Thus, it may be inferred individuals are still keen about a tight budget as even more years pass since World War II. Additionally, the advertisement stresses its product as being pristine and of a high quality in addition to being a professional instrument. This seems to appeal to the beginning of the consumer age in the 1950s where consumers’ value of propriety seemed to shift to having the latest and greatest. The advertisement also suggest the individual could not fabricate so elaborate and inexpensive a product, which appears to point to the belief of the consumer age that companies can make products better and are convenient.

This advertisement is effective in promoting its product for the most part. However, one major flaw with this advertisement is the section, which consists of a few paragraphs, that lends the most pathos to the advertisement is in such small print it is difficult to read, especially for individuals with vision impairment. Additionally, the advertisement seems to target an audience more familiar with the structure and mechanisms of the telescope as the advertisement highlights key features and minute details of the product. That is, a more general audience may not understand these terms and the consequent benefits of these features on the product.

In competition with Criterion and Co.’s Dynascope, Edmund came out with the Palomar, Jr., in the same year. Similarly to the other two advertisements, this advertisement is in black and white and the name of the product and the price are in bold print and larger font than the rest of the advertisement. The remainder of the advertisement is a paragraph not in bold print primarily detailing the features of the product. Thus, the majority of the advertisement—the paragraph and name and price of the product—are the basis of the logos of the advertisement. In regards to ethos, the advertisement lists the stock number and location of the company. This advertisement also incorporates pathos in a few different one ways. One way the advertisement is by stating that the product is “designed by us to meet the need of every astronomer!” Such an appeal is used to suggest the company cares about the consumer, their needs, and what is best for them. Another appeal to pathos is the bold print, large type font caption “A Real Reflector Telescope.” What this caption appears to suggest is that the company’s competitors are imposters or that other companies telescopes are not as authentic as Edmunds. That is why you need the Palomar, Jr.

Overall, the same social implications can be inferred from this advertisement as the Sky Scope advertisement, and the same difficulties with its use as an effective medium of advertising as the Dynascope. The only exception is that this telescope is the most expensive at $74.50, but this greater cost can be assumed to be a consequence of the more complex and improved features of the Palomar, Jr.

Conclusively, these advertisements speak to consumers of a different time. These were consumers that were reluctant to purchase luxuries and kept their budgets tight in the aftermath of World War II. However, these consumers were also players in the rise of consumerism. Moreover, these advertisements catered to the individual’s interest in the world beyond and desire for knowledge, especially at this time of increasing scientific advances.

Works Cited

Hill, Richard. A Myopic View of the History of Criterion MFG. CO. Department of Planetary Sciences, The University of Arizona, n.d. Web 23 Nov. 2014.


One thought on “Historical Telescope Advertisements Evaluation

  1. I never thought of advertisements for the telescope. I think it is great how you explored the the advertisements from post World War 2 was great. Your process of analyzing the ads individually and then comparing the advertisements to show how effective or ineffective the advertisements were. I specifically found that your analysis for the Dynascope advertisement had an effective formulaic process that showed how this advertisement would be effective. There were several mechanics errors throughout the essay, but overall it read very well. I think it would have been great if you posted the links or photos of the advertisements so that people reading your essay could have an opportunity to judge the advertisements for themselves.


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