I’m not much of a fan of puns, but I do enjoy some forms of wordplay. Recently I was trying to supply a date for yet another lovely piece of ephemera I had to catalog. The item in question (back cover panel pictured above) was an advertising brochure for Seattle’s Hotel Savoy, which boasted of that lodging as being the perfect place to stay while taking in the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition (remember that?). Clearly, the brochure must have been distributed some time around 1909, although the language of the announcement, which still made the AYPE seem a future prospect, made a slightly earlier date of “publication” a possibility. I decided to double check quickly to see if the Hotel Savoy predated the fair. I soon came across a handy publication entitled, The Heritage of Seattle Hotels, which included the following information:
Nothing approached the Rainier-Grand’s bon vivant popularity until THE SAVOY HOTEL opened in 1906. Not pretentious by any means, advertised as “12 stories of solid comfort,” there happened to be elaborate French-period accommodations on the top floor…jokingly dubbed, by men-about-town, as “the vice-Presidential Suite.
For some reason, that passage immediately made me think of the television series, Mad Men. Were those bon vivants who patronized the Savoy the “mad men” of their day? Then I realized that one of the running jokes from the show’s season premiere had been the numerous references to “floors” made throughout the episode, culminating in Don Draper’s proposed slogan for a swimsuit ad campaign: “So well built, we can’t show you the second floor.” Scary coincidence? Even more strange was that the fictional client in the show was real life Northwest company, Jantzen (currently celebrating a centenary).
Floors? Stories? Get it?
The date I decided to use for the brochure in the catalog record was 1908 — as good as truth or fiction. I’ll leave you all to decode the deeper meanings of Mad Men for yourselves.