First Year Covers #2: Life

In my humble opinion Life is one of the preeminent magazines in American history. From its outstanding photos to its rich and varied content, I’m rather sorry I wasn’t around for its golden age.

I should note the original incarnation of Life, which I’m not talking about here, began in 1883 as a general interest a humor magazine but was moribund by the 1920s. I’m speaking about the revived magazine, which relaunched under Henry Luce on November 23, 1936. That version is what most of us know today and it ran weekly until 1972. The publications you may see in store shelves today called Life is fine enough but it’s just not the same thing.

Here, then, is a gallery of selected Life covers from the magazine’s first year of publication, 1936-37. They features a wide range of subjects like ballet and opera, sports, famous politicians and actors, and world sites.


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1937 Willys car brochure

Brochure Beauties #8: 1937 Willys, The Surprise Car of the Year!

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.

1937 Willys car brochure

Next up is the money shot, a pretty nice looking pre-war car that boasts up to 35 miles per gallon.

1937 Willys car brochure

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.

1937 Willys car brochure

Retrotisements: Back to School Edition, Part 2

One thing that stinks about being an adult is that I don’t get summers off anymore. One thing that rules about being an adult is I don’t have to deal with the looming threat of Back to School time. So you see, now I can look at vintage back-to-school advertisements with joy and amusement, not dread. And now you can too. Enjoy!

Vintage back-to-school advertisement: Greyhound, 1960

Greyhound, 1960

Vintage back-to-school advertisement: Gibbs, 1954

Gibbs, 1954

Vintage back-to-school advertisement: Campbell's, 1937

Campbell’s, 1937

Vintage back-to-school advertisement: Minnesota Woven, 1962

Minnesota Woven, 1962

Vintage back-to-school advertisement: Woolworth's, 1951

Woolworth’s, 1951

Vintage back-to-school advertisement: Interwoven, 1960

Interwoven, 1960

Vintage back-to-school advertisement: Royal Typewriter, 1960

Royal Typewriter, 1960

Vintage back-to-school advertisement: Tom Sawyer, 1957

Tom Sawyer, 1957

Vintage back-to-school advertisement: Mastercharge, 1969

Mastercharge, 1969

Vintage back-to-school advertisement: Sheaffer's, 1962

Sheaffer’s, 1962

Happy National Donut Day!

For National Donut Day (or National Doughnut Day if you please), here’s a pair of lovely vintage donut ads.

Up first is a lovely Mayflower Downyflake specimen from 1939, tying their donuts to that year’s World’s Fair in New York.

Mayflower Downyflake 1939 donut ad

And the second treat — because who can eat just one? — is this Mister Donut print ad from 1966.

Mister Donut print ad, 1966

I wonder if that coupon is still any good?

RKO Radio Pictures Silly Symphonies ad

Beautiful RKO Radio Pictures Ad for Disney’s Silly Symphonies

In 1937, RKO Radio Pictures assumed the distribution rights for Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse and Silly Symphonies animated shorts from United Artists. To help promote the acquisition, RKO ran this beautiful advertisement in its 1937-38 exhibitor book, which also features ads for movies like Stage Door (starring Katharine Hepburn).

RKO Radio Pictures Silly Symphonies ad

The first RKO Mickey Mouse short, Hawaiian Holiday, debuted in September 1937. The first RKO Silly Symphony cartoon, The Old Mill, came out in November of the same year and won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Subjects (Cartoons). RKO distributed just eight Silly Symphony installments through 1939, when Walt Disney Productions stopped making them to focus more on feature films. The Mickey Mouse shorts continued through 1953 on RKO, although they were produced less frequently after 1943.

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Vintage World's Fair postcard - New York (1939)

Vintage 20th Century World’s Fair Postcards (1900 – 1940)

Getting to a World’s Fair is definitely one of the items on my bucket list. But until I can attend one in person, I guess the next best thing will have to be to look at some vintage World’s Fair postcards. The selection I present here spans every officially sanctioned and recognized fair and exposition from the first half of the 20th century. Due to the outbreak of World War II, there were no fairs held between 1941 and 1957. The next part of this overview (to be published later) will pick up with Expo 58 and run through Expo ’98.

Exposition Universelle (Paris, 1900)

Vintage World's Fair postcard - Paris (1900)

Petit Palais


Pan-American Exposition (Buffalo, 1901)

Vintage World's Fair postcard - Buffalo (1901)

The Stadium

Louisiana Purchase Exposition (St. Louis, 1904)

Vintage World's Fair postcard - St. Louis (1904)

Varied Industries Building

(via Brenda)

Liège International (Belgium, 1905)

Vintage World's Fair postcard - Liège (1905)

The Munich Building

(via alanp_photo)

Milan International (1906)

Vintage World's Fair postcard - Milan (1906)

Irish International Exhibition (Dublin, 1907)

Vintage World's Fair postcard - Dublin (1907)


Jamestown Exposition (Norfolk, 1907)

Vintage World's Fair postcard - Jamestown Exposition (1907)

History and Historic Arts. Auditorium. Education and Social Economy Building.

Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition (Seattle, 1909)

Vintage World's Fair postcard - Alaska–Yukon–Pacific Exposition (1909)

United States Government and Hawaiian Building

 Brussels International 1910

Vintage World's Fair postcard - Brussels (1910)

Visit from the King and Queen of Belgium

Turin International (1911)

Vintage World's Fair postcard - Turin (1911)

Monumental Bridge and the Pavilion of Paris


Exposition Universelle et Internationale (Ghent, 1913)

Vintage World's Fair postcard - Ghent (1913)

La Section Française‎ (The French Section)

Panama–Pacific International Exposition (San Francisco, 1915)

Vintage World's Fair postcard - San Francisco (1915)

Great South Gardens


Panama–California Exposition (San Diego, 1915)

Vintage World's Fair postcard - San Diego (1915)

Downtown Plaza and U.S. Grant Hotel


Independence Centenary International Exposition (Rio de Janeiro, 1922-23)

Vintage World's Fair postcard - Rio de Janeiro (1922)

Ibero-American Exposition of 1929 (Seville, Spain)

Vintage World's Fair postcard - Seville (1929)

Mexican Pavilion

1929 Barcelona International Exposition

Vintage World's Fair postcard - Barcelona (1929)

Exposition of 1930 (Liège)

Vintage World's Fair postcard - Liège (1930)

Entrance Doors, North Sector

International Colonial Exposition, Maritime and Flemish Art (Antwerp, 1930)

Vintage World's Fair postcard - Antwerp (1930)

Pavilion of the French Colonies

A Century of Progress International Exposition (Chicago, 1933-34)

Vintage World's Fair postcard - Chicago (1933/34)

General Motors Building

Brussels International Exposition (1935)

Vintage World's Fair postcard - Brussels (1935)

International Exposition Dedicated to Art and Technology in Modern Life (Paris, 1937)

Vintage World's Fair postcard - Paris (1937)

1939 New York World’s Fair

Vintage World's Fair postcard - New York (1939)

The 14-Ton Giant Underwood Master (Typewriter) Operating Daily


1939 International Exposition (Liège)

Vintage World's Fair postcard - Liège (1939)

The Palace of Germany


Golden Gate International Exposition (San Francisco, 1939-40)

Vintage World's Fair postcard - San Francisco (1939/40)

Night View of Treasure Island, Magic City of Golden Gate International Exposition on San Francisco Bay

(via Shook Photos)
Vintage Mother's Day ad - Whitman's Chocolates, 1946

A Gallery of Vintage Mother’s Day Ads, Vol. 2

Has it already been a year since my last gallery of vintage Mother’s Day ads ran? Where does the time go? Well, I’m back with another 10 classic advertisements to commemorate that most special lady in our lives — mom.

Of course, the usual suspects are here — flowers and chocolates — but I think this year’s gallery manages to mix things up a bit. I think this is the first time I’ve seen a Mother’s Day champagne ad after all.

Vintage Mother's Day ad - Lady Buxton, 1939

Lady Buxton, 1939

Vintage Mother's Day ad - Lejon Champagne, 1970

Lejon Champagne, 1970

Vintage Mother's Day ad - Bell & Howell, 1957

Bell & Howell, 1957

Vintage Mother's Day ad - Whitman's Chocolates, 1946

Whitman’s Chocolates, 1946

Vintage Mother's Day ad - FTD, 1970

FTD, 1970

Vintage Mother's Day ad - Kentucky Fried Chicken, 1968

Kentucky Fried Chicken, 1968

Vintage Mother's Day ad - AT&T, 1967

AT&T, 1967

Vintage Mother's Day ad - General Electric dishwasher, 1969

General Electric dishwasher, 1969

Vintage Mother's Day ad - Pyrex, 1955

Pyrex, 1955

Vintage Mother's Day ad - Playtex pillow, 1952

Playtex pillow, 1952

1974 AMC Matador wire photo

Vintage Photo Wednesday, Vol. 31: Classic American Cars (1930s – 1970s) Part 1

One of my favorite past-times is combing the vast archive of press wire photos on eBay. I’ve found all sorts of neat things there, but one of my current obsessions is old automobile press photography. So here is the first of what I hope will be many galleries featuring ten classic American cars, mainly from the mid-century period. Apologies in advance if I get some of the years or models wrong — I can only go off what the original auction listed. Also, those marks you see on some of the photos are original editorial markings, so you know these are 100% real!

For much more detailed looks at classic American cars, check out my ad galleries for the 1970 Dodge, 1975 Chevrolet, and 1982 AMC lineups.

(Click on any picture for the full size.)

1937 Dodge wire photo

1937 Dodge

If anyone can tell me what the model is for this ’37 Dodge I’d be most appreciative.

1940 Chrysler Royal 6-passenger sedan wire photo

1940 Chrysler Royal 6-passenger sedan

1941 Studebaker Skyway President sedan wire photo

1941 Studebaker Skyway President sedan

You could never get away with sitting on the hood of a car now, unless you feel like removing a big dent.

1954 Cadillac Park Avenue sedan wire photo

1954 Cadillac Park Avenue sedan

1960 Dodge Polara wire photo

1960 Dodge Polara

Designs inspired by the Jet Age lived on into the early 1960s.

1962 AMC Rambler American wire photo

1962 AMC Rambler American

1970 AMC Gremlin wire photo

1970 AMC Gremlin

1971 Buick Opel 1900 wire photo

1971 Buick Opel 1900

German-made Opel automobiles appeared under their own name in the U.S. from 1958 to 1975, when they were sold through Buick dealers as captive imports.

1974 AMC Matador wire photo

1974 AMC Matador

1976 Chevrolet Suburban wire photo

1976 Chevrolet Suburban

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