You are the owner of this article.

Boardwalk merchandising also a form of entertainment — A look back at Atlantic County history

(Look Back is an occasional series with content and images from the Atlantic County Historical Society.)

During the prosperous years in Atlantic City, 1930-1960, some of the entertainment on the Boardwalk was provided by the "auction galleries" and kitchen gadget stands. People walking on the Boardwalk found it difficult not to stop at either one and listen to the smooth talk of the "tip man," whose job it was to form a crowd of prospective buyers.

In front of the auctions, the tip man stood on a raised platform and offered passersby expensive-looking free gifts such as fountain pens, travel alarm clocks, player pianos and transistor radios. He worked very hard to build a crowd and then get them seated. Then the auctioneer would take over and start the sale, which would usually last for 1½ hours.

The auctioneer would start the sale by presenting a ladies diamond ring, followed by ladies' and men's watches. The sale area was surrounded by so called estate jewelry, dinnerware, Sheffield silver sets and a large Persian Rug displayed on a large easel.

At one time, there were 11 auction houses extending from States Avenue to Indiana Avenue. They differed in size and numbers of auctioneers.

Attracting Boardwalk crowds to the kitchen-gadget stand was also the responsibility of a pitchman, whose sole job was to keep his gift of gab going while entertaining and getting the crowd to participate and become engaged. Products offered were knives, juice squeezers, food mixers and assorted kitchen items. This was the forerunner of Veg-A-Matic and items that today are "seen on TV."

One of the best-known pitchmen was Archie Morris, who was a first-class entertainer and above all a great salesman. Most people bought one of the gadgets only to find when they returned home that they didn't perform like they did on the Boardwalk. A well-known celebrity who got his start in this business after being discharged from the Marines was Ed McMahon, who went on to be well known for his television work.

Even though most visitors knew the value of the products that they purchased from both the auctions and kitchen gadget stands, they enjoyed for the most part being entertained at no expense. The last auction gallery was closed in 1978 when the casino industry closed it down.

Founded in 1913, the Atlantic County Historical Society has been preserving historical materials in its library and museum since. Every week, Wednesday to Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., it opens its doors to share these collections with anyone who is interested. The society building is located at 907 Shore Road in Somers Point. More information is available at www.atlanticcountyhistoricalsocietynj.org and on Facebook, or by calling 609-927-5218.

Load comments

HOW TO SUBMIT TO OUR WEEKLIES

HOW TO SUBMIT TO OUR WEEKLIES

Submit all material to current@shorenewstoday.com.

COMMUNITY NEWS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS

  • Include the complete name of the group, school or other organization; where it’s located and what area it serves; the name and title, if applicable, of the person submitting the information; a person to contact with questions and whether the contact is only for us or for the public as well.
  • Information should be formatted as little as possible, without tabs or tables.
  • Photos should be high-resolution and emailed as an attachment. Include the names of the people in the photos and, if applicable, any relevant titles or relationships. Indicate how to determine who is who, such as “front row, from left.”

TRAVELS WITH …

  • Take a picture when you travel of you or your group with one of our weeklies. Send us the picture with names, hometowns and the name of the place you visited.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

  • Letters must be fewer than 400 words and received by 9 a.m. Monday for publication the same week.

EVENT AND TRIP LISTINGS

  • Information to be included in event or trip listings must be submitted online at pressofac.com/calendar. Scroll down to where it says “Submit an event.” Click on “Go to Form.”
  • You are required to sign in using a username and password. If you have previously made an account, log in using the username and password you created. If you have NOT previously made an account with us, click on “Register Here” (under the Sign In button).
  • Once you have created a username and password, you will be taken to the calendar form. Fill out the form with the relevant information. Please remember that less is best for calendar listings. Note: If you include a website, it must be the full address. For example, http://www.pressofac.com, not pressofac.com.