As a follow up to my City of London election leaflet from the 1930s, here is a single-sided Conservative general election leaflet from 1885 for the Skipton Parliamentary constituency:
The name handwritten in the bottom left corner is that of the voter to whom the leaflet was delivered, the handwriting not so much an attempt at personalisation as a reflection of the lack of alternative ways of individually addressing leaflets at the time. Indeed, overall the letter is far less personal than an equivalent is (or should be) today, with both the “Dear Sir” and the letter being from the agent rather than the candidate.
The lack of strong promotion of the candidate’s name in the literature echoes the 1930s example, and that of other old election leaflets in my collection. Candidate names were not hidden by any means, but they did not get the repeated mentions that are required in the rather different information environments of today.
The Conservative candidate lost in the election to Matthew Wilson, a man who was an MP four times (twice for Clitheroe, once for the West Riding and once for Skipton) and – in a reflection of the very different expectations of MPs then – is only recorded as having spoken in Parliament five times.
For some other historical comparisons between election campaigns then and now see my article Continuity and change in election campaigns: the 1910 and 2010 election campaigns.