How I Made $100,000 With A Fool Idea

This lead generation ad for how to get-rich-in-real-estate appeared in “Popular Mechanics” just a few weeks before Black Thursday and the eventual market crash of 1929.

That $100,000 in today’s dollars would be about $1.3 million, so that was quite a claim to make.  Reminiscent of the real estate gurus of our not so distant past?

This is one of the first recognizable to the 21st Century marketer’s eyes, get-rich-in-real-estate ads and it was published by a company called American Business Builders.

This ad and their biz-op ads in general were in a word — phenomenal.

You get the feeling that a heavyweight copywriter, like Victor Schwab, had a hand in this but since so much of Schwab’s oeuvre has never been identified, we may never know.

Notice the interesting coupon with the year the company was founded and its business capital.

Once again…nothing new under the sun.

Click the thumb to DL the PDF.


  1. jstat says

    This was W. M. Ostrander’s (my grandfather) company. He received a cease and desist order from the FTC in 1931, went bankrupt, and apparently committed suicide in 1932. The earliest real estate ads (under the name of W. M. Ostrander) that I have been able to find are from 1897.

  2. says


    Another example of “our tax dollars at work”…against us. I am saddened to hear of what happened to your grand father after he posted this ad. He was quite an entrepreneur. I too am an entrepreneur, and when I saw this add as I was doing some research on the internet, I thought…”What a cool idea!! And I considered
    doing something similar about an investment I made 2 years ago which has reaped me some wonderful results …until I saw your comment.

    Even if it’s a fact, the FTC just doesn’t allow such statements, as it may be a scam. I’ll bet your grandfather’s statements were true, but he got a C&D letter anyway.

    I admire any entrepreneur who bucks the trends to become a millionaire, or who sets a new trend to become one. Your grandfather was one of those great men.

    With Kind Regards,

    Ed Johnson, J.D., Attorney
    San Antonio, Texas

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