Victor B. Mason - Mysterious man of opportunity.

Today we are faced with An Mystery, thanks to this 1961 ad from Popular Science. Who the Eff is Victor B. Mason, and why does he talk so much without ever telling you what he's getting at? Any ad predicated upon the I'm-not-trying-to-make-money-I-just-want-to-help-my-fellow-man line can be assumed to be a scam or pyramid scheme of some kind. Have a look at this ad from Victor B. Mason.

Wow, he does go on, doesn't he? It looks like a page from the Bible, but nope, that's just an ordinary ad for very very bored people. Since you're not bored and you're an important member of the New Coffee Generation. I'll save you the trouble of reading Mason's dissertation on independent wealth. Bottom line is, he doesn't tell you what he's selling. He just bangs on and on about how great it is to be fabulously wealthy and wouldn't you like that too, and stuff. Near the bottom of the middle column, he SORT OF implies what kind of  "opportunity" he's offering you for fifteen bucks. (or $115 in today's money. Oof!).

Something something hammer and screwdriver. What goes on? The P.A.G. Research and Googling Team only found more and more copies of this ad from old magazines. That, and listings on Amazon and Ebay selling this ad for anything up to $45! There's your get rich scheme right there.

Anyway, the Victor B. Mason you'll find on the InterTubes is a guy who makes guitar amplifiers who is maybe fifty years old. That's not our man. The guy in the ad was already ruggedly handsome in '61. So, the amp-making guy is just a red herring thrown at us by history. We're not so easy to fool.

I know who he is. Victor B. Mason is former Air Force Colonel, astronaut, Gentleman Man of Mystery, part time marionette and patriarch of International Rescue Jeff Tracy! Dun Dun DUNNNNNNNN!!!!

Of course he has to be cagey in advertising for personnel. International Rescue is a secret organization that rescues people internationally, and their existence is unofficial. "Victor B. Mason" is an anagram for "Smobov N. Traci", which is still not "Jeff Tracy". The perfect cover identity! Very clever, Smobov!

Thunderbirds didn't air until 1964, and this ad ran in '61. Tracy's looking for someone with mechanical aptitude, which means he wants to build something. We can only assume that "something" means "a fleet of super-technological rescue vehicles effective in all forms of terrain and environments". That means he's looking to recruit the engineer who would come, in later years, to be known as "Brains". I'm sure Brains read Pop Sci.

In even LATER years, Brains would achieve international fame as Elton John. Why? Because he actually is Rocket Man. See? The Thunderbird ships. Think about it. Uh huh. You see now.

Click for big, if you want, but the job's been filled.


Anonymous said...

Ad ran much earlier than 1961 ... I've seen it in 1957 magazines.

Anonymous said...

The ad was also run in the August 1969 Science & Mechanics...so we know it ran for at least 12 years!!..what the hell was it?? lol.

Anonymous said...

Somebody must've taken the bait, so what was it?

Anonymous said...

Oh that's great. Ad also appears in Mechanix Illustrated "How to Build 20 Boats" from 1966. I wonder how the bait and switch worked. Thunderbirds away!

Anonymous said...

Do you really want to know what Victor B. Mason was selling? Might not you be better off, my friend, awed by the mysteries of the Oracle, never having had ones dreams crash upon the shoals of dull, ordinary reality? Because when I was a kid reading Pop Sci in the early '60s, my brother and I did in fact write to one Mr. Victor B. Mason for the secret to financial independence. So read on only if you wish to have the veil of secrecy lifted, and the cold splash of reality upon your face.


He was selling rubber stamp machines. Which you would put in the trunk of your car and dutifully drive around to every small business in town hawking your wares at $1 or $2 per stamp. Even at the tender age of 11, I smelled a rat and laughed out loud at the preposterousness of it all. But then, perhaps I was not that sort of man, the man of vision and courage with the ability to see what other men could not -- the riches that await he who takes his manifest destiny into his own hands (well, with a little mechanical ability required two hours a day), seizing the fish of the day from the sea of life. If only I had listened, really listened, for I, too, have felt the sting of poverty and the sideways glances from my fellow man at my tattered clothes and shattered dreams, living as I do in a van, down by the river.

Anonymous said...

Fun thread, but seriously... thanks to whomever revealed VBM's secret! This ad also ran contemporaneously in "Popular Mechanics". I have for at least 50 years wondered what was Victor's secret. Now I can at least enjoy a solid night's sleep, safe in the knowledge that the key to a fulfilled life is a rubber stamp machine.

wohl1917 said...

This ad also ran in the November 1960 Popular Science...

Hank Gillette said...

Just wanted to add that in some of the ads it said that the picture of Mr. Mason was actually a professional model.

Anonymous said...

The ad was for selling Mason's shoes from home.

Jay William said...

Actually, the ad had nothing to do with Mason Shoes.

Jay William said...

Googling the Jarvis Avenue address in the ad reveals two things:
1. The address is now occupied by a Public Storage self-storage facility.
2. An ad with the same address appeared in the October 1979 issue of Popular Science. By then, the enigmatic Victor B. Mason had been retired, and the ad copy was much more forthright, albeit less memorable. The company name in the ad is "Rubber Stamp Div" and it is indeed a pitch for a tabletop rubber stamp machine, which is pictured in the ad. Beginners are urged to "cash in on the lucrative Rubber Stamp business" and make "up to" $16.50 an hour or as much as $33.00 an hour "at full capacity". And all this is offered without even the $15.00 that Victor was going to "allow you to invest", but completely "free". Maybe the ad was not so forthright after all.

Anyway, the ad appears directly above another frequently-seen ad in PS/PM back then: the "Original Basement Toilet" of genuine porcelain that "flushes up to sewer or septic tank", with a mailing address in Tampa, Florida.
Where they don't have basements.

Hank Gillette said...

The ads from the “Rubber Stamp Div” actually predate the Victor B. Mason ads and were also run in the same time period (but not in the same issues, I am guessing).

Additionally, there were ads using the same address for home busines opportunities with engraving machines and plastic laminating machines under the name “Warner Electric Co.”. There is a Warner Electric Company existing in Chicago currently, but I can’t tell if it is the same company.

So, I think we are left with the possibility that 1512 Jarvis Ave. was a mail drop serving multiple companies, or that there was a company, possibly Warner Electric, advertising multiple home business opportunities, sometimes using radically different ads for the same product.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for a thought provoking blog :) I too ran across the ad while cleaning out some old magazines of my late father in law's. It was in a Popular Science from Oct. 1971. He must have made some money at this scheme as even back then I'm sure a full page ad would cost. Thanks for a great read!

Post a Comment