Ephemera

First Year Covers: Playboy

First Year Covers: Playboy

Ephemera
I'm starting a new series called First Year Covers, the purpose of which should be obvious. I'll take a famous magazine and share a gallery featuring all or selected covers from its first year of publication. For no particular reason I've chosen Hugh Hefner's Playboy for the first entry. Scratch that - there is a reason. Aside from all the controversy Playboy has courted almost since its first issue published in December 1953 -- and featuring previously unseen nude photos of Marilyn Monroe -- many of its covers in the early days are fun and imaginative exercises in graphic design. So with that out of the way, let's enjoy a look at the twelve months of Playboy covers, plus a bonus 13th cover to round out 1954. Sorry fellas, no nudity here.
Get Toasty With These Wisconsin Electric Power Company Christmas Cooky Books

Get Toasty With These Wisconsin Electric Power Company Christmas Cooky Books

Ephemera
Here are some wonderful artifacts from the days when public utility companies at least tried to pretend like they cared about their customers or wanted some sort of connection with their communities. This gallery features covers from a series of Christmas "Cooky Books" produced by the Wisconsin Electric Power Company in the 1950s, '60s, and '70s. The designs run from homey but bland to festive to delightfully cheerful and mid-century. One note: In fairness, the current version of this company, We Energies, still produces this book. Good on them. Most scans courtesy eBay. Click on any image for the full-size version.
Brochure Beauties #7: Sea World San Diego, 1964

Brochure Beauties #7: Sea World San Diego, 1964

Ephemera
Today's beauty comes to us from the mid 1960s, during what I think of as the golden age of amusement parks. It dates (I believe) from 1964, when the first Sea World opened in the Mission Bay area of San Diego, California. Located on 22 acres, the original vision for the park was a giant underwater restaurant. I think the amusement park was definitely the way to go. Sea World's owners spared no expense with this brochure, as it has the evocative prose and lush illustrations typical of the best brochures and advertising material of the mid-century period. Behold the beauty of the front cover: Let's take a closer look at that logo, for it is wonderful. Just two colors here, but a great contrast of typefaces. And turning the standard '60s grid globe into a fish? Genius. Bef...
Outstanding Poster Art: Modern Jazz for ’56

Outstanding Poster Art: Modern Jazz for ’56

Auction Finds, Ephemera
Sometimes I see a piece of pop art and just know it's from the 1950s without knowing anything else about it. Such is the case with this phenomenal piece from 1956, advertising a concert called Modern Jazz for '56, which seems to have been a package tour. It featured artists such as Chris Connor, the Modern Jazz Quartet, the Don Shirley Duo, and Herbie Mann and was sold as "an enjoyable evening with your favorite modern jazz artists." This particular concert was held on January 27, 1956 at the Victoria Theatre in what I believe is Kansas City. Dig this beauty, man: I would frame this gem in a heartbeat if I had it. So totally mid-century and just oozing with that hep cat charm you also find on a lot of jazz album covers from the period. A concert review published on January 29th b...
Sears Catalog Goodness #3: Late ’70s Exercise Equipment

Sears Catalog Goodness #3: Late ’70s Exercise Equipment

Ephemera
I know that making fun of 1970s fashion is an easy thing to do, and I certainly enjoy a good bell-bottom or earth tone joke as much as the next guy. But one thing that gets overlooked in '70s jokes is how primitive the home exercise equipment of that time looks compared to now. To illustrate, here are three pages from the Fall 1977 Sears catalog that showcase home workout equipment made up of approximately 86.3% pipes and belts. Let's get physical!
Groovy College Course Catalogs of the 1970s

Groovy College Course Catalogs of the 1970s

Ephemera, Featured Posts
Whether for their graphic design, optimistic photographs, or quaint vintage charm, I always have a blast looking at old college course catalogs. So I'm going to share some of my favorites with you, grouped by decade. Up first are the groovy '70s. Here are one dozen college course catalogs from the Me Decade, covering both undergraduate and graduate schools from small junior/community colleges to well-known and prestigious universities. (All images courtesy the Internet Archive.)
A Gallery of Antique Memorial Day Postcards

A Gallery of Antique Memorial Day Postcards

Ephemera
Antique Memorial Day postcards are among the most evocative piece of vintage ephemera you can collect. With their elegant imagery mixing both patriotism and remembrance of those who died in service of this country, they are almost uniformly somber but almost uplifting at the same time. The postcards on display here mostly date from the first few decades of the 20th century, when the holiday was more often known as Decoration Day. That's due to its roots as a day to decorate the graves of fallen Civil War soldiers. Not coincidentally, these cards are heavy on the Civil War imagery.