Dr. E. James Cattell, at one time secretary to Jay Gould, now current city statistician of Philadelphia, backed me into a corner and wanted to know whether I knew that real estate advertising began with Moses of bullrush fame.
"Well, it did," Doc explained. "When Moses undertook to lead the children of Israel out of the Land of Bondage, he advertised their destination as the Land of Promise, didn't he?
"And when the soldiers of Joshua came back from Jericho proclaiming it a land flowing with milk and honey, what were they doing if not advertising real estate? Answer me that. Hannibal advertised Italian real estate when he painted for his Carthaginian cohorts the richness of the plains of Lombardy, didn't he? And Napoleon did the same thing when he told his troops: 'Beyond the Alps lies Italy!' And, too, Ponce de Leon was a good advertiser, wasn't he? Ponce promised to lead his followers to the Fountain of Eternal Youth, but, at that, I am not recommending his example because I believe in truthful advertising. Ponce lied and he failed miserably, just as he deserved. But historical celebrities are not the only ones who have been great real estate advertisers. "When Sir Walter Scott said:
"If thou wouldst view fair Melrose aright, Go visit it by the pale moonlight,
"he wrote one of the best real estate advertisements Scotland ever had. Hundreds of thousands of tourists have read that ad and have poured into Scotland. And that's not all. Bobby Burns boosted the braes and banks of Bonny Doon, you remember, and Tom Moore broke into the advertising game and puffed Irish real estate when he wrote:
"There is not in the wide world a valley so sweet As that vale in whose bosom the bright waters meet.
"Poets are not business men, but those poets by celebrating Melrose and Highland lakes and the Vale of Avoca did something for real estate values that the business men of Scotland and Ireland gratefully acknowledge to this day."
- Eddie Boyden in the San Francisco Chronicle.