Records reflect Sohmer's heavy dependence on advertising to get the product before the people. The company advertisements represented range from the colorful cartoon advertisements featured in the magazine "Puck," 1888-1890, to an undeveloped sketch by Harry J. Sohmer entitled: "New York Oddities, New York Certainties." Generally, all the ingredients for an advertising campaign are present in these records. From the Art work (i.e. photographs and sketches), to the Mechanicals (represented by the assemblage of art work, text, captions, layouts, and overlays), the concepts behind a campaign can be seen in the process of design development.
Scrapbooks covering 1953-1966 include schedules for advertisements, organized by name of newspaper, when itwas to run, how many lines it was long, and the cost per line; there are total costs and agency fees for each newspaper. The scrapbooks also include coupon advertising statistics and analyses, organized by medium (i.e. newspaper or magazine), and following categories: number of inquiries, number of units sold, sale cost, advertising dollars spent, advertising cost per sale. Statistics on the pianos used as prizes on television game shows, such as "The Price Is Right" and "Say When," are in the scrapbooks from 1959-1960s. They include the date of broadcast, whether it was an evening or daytime show, piano model, and whether puchased or contributed to the show.
Proof sheets show the finished advertisements before publication, while trade paper and newspaper reprints and clippings show the advertisements as they appeared in print. Scrapbooks of Sohmer advertisements include ads clipped from newspapers (primarily New York), and from trade papers, 1883-1983, excluding 1942-1945. Occasionally scrapbooks include latest Sohmer catalog or booklet, and clippings of editorial comments about the company s l̕atest advertisements.
Scrapbooks for 1883-1903 primarily contain newsclippings relating to New York City politics and the 1897 nomination of Hugo Sohmer s b̕rother William as mayoral candidate of the German faction of Tammany Hall. Other clippings relate to New York municipal elections, William Sohmer s p̕olitical activities, and his appointment as city clerk in 1898. Interspersed with these articles, many of which are from German language publications such as the "New York Plattdeutsche Post", are clippings of Sohmer piano advertisements. Although all scrapbooks are very brittle and require careful handling, the earliest (OS-15A) are in extremely crtical condition.
The scrapbooks of the early 1900s continue to include newsclippings about Sohmer & Co., e.g. regarding the move of their salesrooms in 1909, along with advertisement clippings. After ca. 1922, scrapbooks primarily contain wholesale and retail advertisements, and fewer or no newsclippings. One undated scrapbook contains information for dealers about Sohmer & Co. Sohmer also followed the advertisement campaigns of its competitors, as competitor advertisements (OS FLDR 6-8) and a scrapbook with competitor ads and newsclippings (OS-29B) demonstrate.
The scrapbook of Sohmer advertising mail follow-ups of 1935 include typed letters of thanks, testimonials, and marketing booklets. The trade paper reprints of advertisements are arranged numerically by piano model number, then alphabetically by name of the campaign. Newspaper reprints are arranged alphabetically by name of the campaign. The proof sheets arranged numerically by their assigned numbers, were used by dealers to promote their stores as well as Sohmer pianos. On these proofs were requests for copies ofthe advertisementsas they appeared in print. A sample of these is found inthedealer advertisements of 1948 to 1954. The promotional campaign organized between Sohmer and pianist Edward J. McGinley in 1955 represents advertising in a microcosm: includes letters to McGinley setting up a public demonstration entitled "Piano Playing Made Easy," preliminary design sketches of ads, clippings of advertisements, and a "Book of Official Record of Inquiries" about the demonstration. The series also includes several items of miscellaneous advertisements such as a recording of a Sohmer commercial, a map of New York City, and gift wrapping paper with Sohmer advertisement.