Sousa the Pitchman

Mike Lawson • • August 3, 2018

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Test your knowledge about the products John Philip Sousa endorsed in advertisements.


1. In spite of his “love/hate” relationship with recorded music, Sousa’s image, signature, and endorsement commonly appeared on advertisements for which recording company?

2. In 1917, Sousa advertised for which chewing gum company?

3. Even after his death, Sousa was still an advertising favorite. A 1942 advertisement depicted an artist’s rendition of the bandmaster at a famous location in Nashville in 1899. What product was being sold?

4. In 1956, 24 years after Sousa’s death, what insurance company published a frightfully poor artists, likeness of Sousa conducting a band, with the slogan, “He put us in step with ourselves?“

5. What firearms company manufactured and advertised the Sousa Model Shotgun?

6. In 1919, there was a photograph of three generations of the Sousa family around a piano. Sousa endorsed the piano company with, “a high regard for your instruments and their musical excellence.” What piano company was it?

7. Sousa the sportsman and trap shooter had this advice for boys: “Good marksmanship is possible to every wideawake boy.” Sousa noted that a “crack shot” is always admired, and the value of coordination resulting from target practice cannot be underestimated. What company used these words and Sousa’s picture in their advertisement directed to boys?

8. What advertisement featured Sousa’s endorsement of a product claiming, “Sousa enjoys one luxury that anyone can afford.” What was the product?

9. In May of 1925, Sousa sued which tobacco company for selling cheap, 3 for 10 cent cigars with his likeness and name on it?

10. Who manufactured and sold the John Philip Sousa model television set?


1. The Victor Talking Machine Company, maker of Victor Records and playback machines.

2. Adams Black Jack Licorice Gum. He claimed he liked the flavor very much and he found it very good for a cough.

3. Maxwell House Coffee. Sousa was depicted enjoying coffee at the famous Maxwell House in 1899. This magazine advertisement was published ten years after the bandmaster’s death, and near the beginning of World War Two.

4. John Hancock. This was a blatant attempt to link their insurance to the patriotic reputation of John Philip Sousa. Their theme was, “He could make us walk as one people,” because he could “listen and hear the heartbeat of the country” and then capture it in music.

5. The Ithaca Gun Company introduced the Sousa Model Trap Gun. This single barrel, 12 gage shotgun was, by far, their most expensive model, and cost $700 at the time. Among other features, they were adorned with a gold-inlayed hunting dog, flying duck, and mermaid. Company records are incomplete, but only nineteen can be accounted for.

6. Kranich and Bach. In a letter dated May 16, 1919, Sousa adroitly worded an endorsement letter to the piano company for the ad, correctly expressing that his grandson, John Philip Sousa, III, is, “learning his music on a Kranich and Bach.” Sousa further expounded his son, John Philip Sousa, II, “also acquired a good part of his musical training on a Kranich and Bach.” The photograph sold it, but was only part of the story.

Exercising his dry wit and humor, Sousa was careful not to give the false impression either one of his offspring had developed any musical talent, which they did not. But the boys, truthfully, had probably learned all they knew on the Kranich and Bach, which was not much. John Philip Sousa, IV, who occasionally narrates concerts and guest conducts The Stars and Stripes Forever, is fond of admitting to audiences, “All of the musical talent left after the first generation.”

7. Daisy Air Rifles. Under the heading, “A Message on Marksmanship from America’s Greatest Bandmaster,” Daisy extolled the personal qualities target shooting developed in a boy. They wrote of training the eye, the mind, and the muscles to hit the bull’s eye. Throughout the ad, they refer to Sousa by his naval rank; Lieutenant Commander Sousa, and linked Sousa’s name with several other sports figures of his day.

8. William’s Oil-O-Matic Heating devices, which claimed Sousa used them in his home on Long Island Sound. The advertisement showed a photo of Sousa, his home, and a heater. It explained, in detail, how Sousa needed a heater on which he could depend, and was quiet not to disturb his work. In fact, the company wrote nine paragraphs extolling their merits and value to Sousa.

9. The P. Lorillard Company. Sousa had no use for cigarettes or pipe smoking, but he did enjoy a good cigar once in a while. Sousa, who exercised moderation in all things, never smoked in the morning, and only smoked expensive, custom-made Havana cigars. He smoked a Fonseca “McKinley,” model, which, except for the wrapper, were exactly the same as those made for Admiral George Dewey.

The boxes of cheap “Invincibles” were manufactured without Sousa’s knowledge or consent by the P. Lorillard Company. When Sousa discovered the “honor” of having a “three for a dime” cigar with his name on it, he sued Lorillard for $100,000 in the Supreme Court of the State of New York. The matter was settled out-of-court and the cheap cigar was off the market.

10. The Crosley Division of AVCO Manufacturing Corporation of Cincinnati published in their product advertising booklet entitled, “Crosley Presents Tomorrows TV Today,” printed in August, 1951, Model DU-17, The John Philip Sousa model television. This table-top model sported a 17 inch picture tube and Duo-Frequency in a beautiful compact cabinet.

Major Patrick W. Dugan is available for presentations on Sousa, Patrick Sarsfield Gilmore, and other American bandmasters from 1830 to 1930. He also guest conducts concerts. He can be reached at

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