Mixed Messages about Sex in Advertisements from 1930s Singapore


I like to relax by looking through old newspapers from Singapore (that have been beautifully digitized by NUS). In doing so today, I just realized that there is something odd about some of the advertisements in these papers.

What I have found is that advertisements that deal with things related to sex tend to get placed next to, or near, each other. The result is a bit weird.


The above three advertisements are all related to sex in one way or another. The advertisement on the right is for “Little Lover” (小情人), a medicine for enhancing the functioning of the “most valuable parts” (最寶貴之部份) of both men and women.

The advertisement in the middle, meanwhile, is for tablets that prevent pregnancy. And finally, the advertisement on the left is for “Satoben Tablets – A reliable remedy for the treatment of syphilis.”


Hmmm. . . If I had lived in Singapore in the 1930s and looked at those three advertisements. . . what would I have decided to do?

I think I would have just stayed at home. Why bother if you’re just going to end up having to take Satoben Tablets?

Maybe it would have been a better idea to advertise Little Lover on Fridays and Satoben Tablets on Mondays. I bet both companies would have sold a lot more of their products that way.

One Response to “Mixed Messages about Sex in Advertisements from 1930s Singapore”

  1. Unless, they were not rival companies or just a financial interest in a related industry (alcohol, tobacco, expanding the family or population ;)

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Fifty Viss

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