Word of mouth is all well and good, but won't get you far when you're in the middle of the Ozarks trying to sell stone to the likes of San Francisco and New York in the early 1900s. When Phenix Marble Co. first began distributing across the country, they relied heavily on print advertisements in newspapers and especially trade journals to reach their audience. Publications like Stone: An Illustrated Magazine and Architect and Engineer featured articles about quarries, professionals, new or notable projects and other trade information. They were also major advertising platforms for producers and merchants of all kinds. Here are two examples from Stone. (All available digitally through Google Books)
The prevalence of Phenix stone and Napoleon Gray across the country is proof enough of its popularity and successful distribution, but this letter from the president of Phenix to Stone shows the surprising reach of its advertising. Unfortunately we have no further knowledge of the lead from Manilla. The international scope of Napoleon Gray remains unknown.
As was the common style, many of Phenix's advertisements in these trade magazines featured large images of completed Phenix stone projects. The following three examples are from the San Francisco based journal, Architect and Engineer. (All courtesy of the online archive of the San Francisco Public Library)
Many of the ad campaigns were directly linked to Phenix's relationship with their distributor, Tompkins-Kiel. The company regularly published ads that highlighted one or several of the wide variety of stones they carried. Sometimes they were as simple as a list of products available through Tompkins-Kiel and sometimes a large image of a grandiose hotel or lobby comprising an array of their represented stone. Beyond advertising in various publications, Tompkins-Kiel also produced their own materials for distribution. Two such booklets have been digitized by Peggy Perazzo and are available on her invaluable site, Stone Quarries and Beyond. The two booklets (linked below) are, respectively, a photographic catalog of the stones and materials available through Tompkins-Kiel and a catalog devoted entirely to Phenix's Napoleon Gray and highlighting many spectacular examples of its use throughout the country.
Naturally, our present marketing plan for Phenix varies some from the advertising methods of the early 20th century. As we try our best to make use of the new digital media tools available to us, one strategy remains the same - let the beauty of the stone speak for itself.