Postmarked June 18, 1956: PIKES PEAK AUTO RACE Here on Labor Day of each year gather the world's best dirt track drivers to test their skill on the 10% grade up the side of Pikes Peak, rising 14,110 feet above sea level.
It's hard to believe that I'm almost 10 entries into this series and haven't shared any car brochures. Luckily I found a real gem for the first one. This brochure highlights the new 1937 Willys, with the slogan "The Surprise Car of the Year." The typeface and color scheme are very much of their era, and are a pure delight. The first image breaks down (OK, unfortunate phrasing) the cost of ownership over 35,000 miles. Can't say I've ever seen a car brochure give a depreciation amount before. Next up is the money shot, a pretty nice looking pre-war car that boasts up to 35 miles per gallon. Next we get several exterior and interior shots, with some very well-dressed people looking very approvingly at the beautiful bench seats, roomy interior and spacious trunk.
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.
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.
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...
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...
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!
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.)
Courtesy this vintage car dealership postcard comes this fun image of the 1964 Mercury Comet Caliente Convertible. It's the best bargain under the big top!