Locally Owned and Operated

Since 1984 with the Spirit of Aloha

The History Of Promotional Products | Hawaii

The History Of Promotional Products | Hawaii

Photo By Grafissimo at istock

If you’re a business owner who’s looking to promote your business at a trade fair or local event, you may be considering investing in promotional products to hand out. Many companies use items such as pens, mugs, or magnets to promote their business and let local people know about their products and services. A good promo can be powerful!

If you live in Hawaii and are searching for products for your business, you may like to contact RPA Hawaii. The company has a large selection of products and can print your company’s logo on each item.

It’s always exciting for customers or professionals to leave a trade event, festival, or market with something in their hands. Good promotional products will be used for years to come and will help people remember your business. The history of products goes back a lot further than most people realize. This advertising strategy has been used for well over 100 years. Let’s look at the interesting history of these products!

The First Promotional Products

The first promotions can be traced back to ancient civilizations when Emperors would stamp images of their faces or other symbols on clay bricks. This helped to define ownership of buildings and told people whose rule they were under.

Later, the Roman empire created a new Christian society that was promoted using symbolism stamped onto jewelry and coins. These coins often had intricate designs and were struck by hand. They were used to spread awareness about Christianity throughout the land.

The Industrial Revolution

In 1440 Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press and made his own inks using linseed oil and soot. This printing press allowed for the mass-production of printed materials like never before. Businesses started to create calling cards to announce when they would be arriving in Europe. These cards later developed into the business cards we know today, and maps were also printed directing customers to business premises and shops.

Promoting the President

The first promotional item created in America was a simple button that was used to celebrate George Washington’s inauguration in 1789. These buttons were created as souvenirs rather than to promote anything as there wasn’t an election coming up at the time.

Promotional Products During the 1800s

During the 1800s, many businesses had the opportunity to use promotional products for marketing their products and services. These helped them to stand out from their competitors. There were many popular products during the 1800s, including buttons, bookmarks, and corkscrews.


As mentioned above, the presents of America were the first people to use buttons for promotions. Abraham Lincoln also commissioned buttons and pins which supporters could wear. These helped to promote his campaign and later became collectors’ items. Many other politicians, such as William McKinley in 1896, followed suit.


In the mid 1800s, a printing technique called Chromolithography was developed, which allowed printers to create vibrant illustrations. Advertisers loved the bright colors as previously everything had been printed in black and white. During Victorian times, there was a surge in interest in books and reading. Many companies produced full-color bookmarks and gave these away to promote their business. Bookmarks were used to promote many different types of business, from publishers and printing companies to insurance brokers.


Adolphus Busch, who was a beer brewer, created a promotional corkscrew to advertise his beer during the 19th century. He employed salespeople who visited taverns to sell his beer, and they handed out branded corkscrews and other items to customers. His corkscrews were very popular amongst tavern owners and customers alike.

Promotional Products During the 1900s

Calling cards and buttons became widespread across America in the 1800s, but it wasn’t until the early 1900’s that products became widely available to businesses and took off an industry. In 1886 in Ohio, a newspaper owner called Jasper Meek decided to diversify into printing promotional materials during the slow season. He started to print bags to help promote a local shoe store. These bags became popular amongst children who reused them to carry their books to school. Traffic to the store dramatically increased after other parents wanted bags for their own children. This was the start of a promotional business for Meek, who realized the value of creating products for businesses.

Meek branched out and created a catalog with hundreds of products; he then approached local businesses and helped them to start advertising campaigns. He sold his newspaper business and created products full time, specializing in metal items such as customized trays which were used for advertising Coca-Cola.

Meek’s business was advanced by the invention of screen-printing in 1907, which allowed him to print a large selection of images and messages onto printed materials and promotional items. Meek’s merchandising ideas spread with many new businesses opening and promotional products became a full-blown industry in the 1900s, offering stock images and a large selection of mass-produced items!

RPA Hawaii, Promotional Products

If you live in Hawaii and are searching for promotional products for your business, you may like to contact RPA Hawaii. The company has a large selection of products and can print your company’s logo on each item. They can supply merchandise, clothing for employees, and promotional items.

RPA Hawaii has a wide range of products, including pens, games, t-shirts, and sunglasses, which can be used to promote your business at trade fairs and events. The company stocks a large selection of good quality products which can be customized with your branding and logo. Items are sold in bulk so that you can reach more potential customers.

RPA Hawaii has been family owned and operated since 1971 and has an excellent reputation! To find out more, contact the team today on 808-845-9399 to see what RPA Hawaii can do for your business!