It’s that time of year again… cold, dark nights; clocks are turned back (this coming Sunday!); blustery days… Halloween and Bonfire Night are just around the corner. This year we’re having a Halloween party and have asked people to dress up. Aidan and I have got some pretty snazzy costumes to wear – although, as I’m typing this, mine isn’t exactly finished… or started… To get some ideas for the food and drinks, I decided to look up vintage Halloween adverts. Thanks to the wonders of the internet, I wasn’t disappointed. Here are some of my favourites, gathered together in one place. Thanks to anyone I’ve nabbed them off!
I’m not sure I’d want to answer the door to that last kid… My favourite advert out of these is the Pepsi one. Perhaps next year, I’ll be able to copy that costume rather than being restricted to ones of a rotund nature!
Our impending arrival means that I’ve seriously got babies on the brain. As well as the official ‘baby brain’… Scouring through my Woman’s Own magazines to look at the adverts builds up a picture of how womanhood was viewed in the 1950s; at least by mainstream society. Babies, cooking, cleaning and grooming appear to be the main aims of a 1950s housewife. I think I can safely say it will be yes to the first two; maybe to the third and probably not to the fourth idea for me come November…
When you examine many of these adverts en masse – not only the baby related ones – the general feeling seems to be that if there is a product, new ingredient, new thing that can be used, given, delivered, rubbed in and so on, then do it!
Everything seems to be the most unique, the ideal, the kindest, safest, most natural thing you can have or use. I know that’s the nature of advertising, but I do wonder how much more susceptible people were to it fifty or sixty years ago. Nowadays, I think (most) people are more cynical and will question advertising spiel more; perhaps I’m being naive in assuming people of the older generation didn’t do that as much.
This Heinz advert has one of my favourite lines in it: “‘So firm, isn’t she! no flabby fat on her. And she can almost stand.” Pitched just right to play on the fears of a mother and the natural competitiveness of rearing a child and wanting it to be the best it can be
and secretly better than everyone else’s child.
This is something I can forsee that we might have issues with: that we will be bringing our child up on a vegetarian diet. Actually, we won’t have issues with it. We both know that anyone can maintain a very healthy lifestyle without eating meat; equally, an unhealthy one can be apparent in meat-eaters. It’s down to personal choice. I would rather our child is brought up vegetarian and has the choice to eat meat when he or she is older and understands more about where meat comes from. Having said this, I anticipated questions and qualms from people for having a (mostly) vegetarian pregnancy and have had virtually nothing. That every examination, appointment, blood test, urine test, whatever test you can think of that pregnant women undergo has come back spot on every time, I like to think this is proof that vegetarianism in pregnancy is perfectly normal and good for your baby. As for all of those cheese sandwiches I ate during months three and four, what with being the only thing I could stomach at the time; well, they’ve clearly done me or the baby no harm. It’ll probably come out smelling like mayonnaise though…
Just read the different in the copy between the adverts. The first states that for ‘Mothers who cannot breastfeed [they] can put their trust in Ostermilk.’ So far, so responsible. Yet look at the text for the second advert: “Lots of prams never seem to get very far without being stopped. They are, of course, the ones that contain particularly engaging looking babies. So often they are babies fed on Ostermilk. This pure milk food builds the kind of babies that people simply have to stop and talk to.” As I said, designed perfectly to play on fears and competitiveness. The breastfeeding vs. formula feeding debate still rages on endlessly nowadays, and there is an absolute wealth of information out there for mums and dads to be read about. It really is down to personal choice and circumstances, in my opinion, and I don’t think any parent should be made to feel guilty about that choice.
The next few adverts are mainly to coo over funny looking pictures of babies in quaint pictures:
I love the expressions on the faces of the babies in the Vaseline adverts and the RP accent of the text. Jolly good! The idea of my baby thinking in a posh accent tickles me somewhat. In reality, it’s likely to be a strange hybrid of Yorkshire, Mancunian and the Midlands. Perhaps I can teach him or her to say, “I say!” at least.
This final advert is my favourite, purely for the possessed look on the child’s face:
That’s what all that Ostermilk, Spinach and Beef, and Vaseline does to you… this baby is not possessed at all, just feeling smugly superior:
“I say, you fellows, look what a glow to my eyes that Magnesia has brought about. How spiffing!”
Are you nostalgic? As a generation, are we harking back to past eras more than any other generation before us? Or this a natural human action: to yearn for something we can never truly have – or replicate? It certainly seems that there are more and more people of my age who look to their ancestors rather than their contemporaries for inspiration, style and a way of life. I consider myself no exception to this.However, for me what began as inspiration is turning into a way of life, in more ways than one.
A few months ago, we moved into our new house and so far the duties have been divided like this: I cook. Aidan does everything else. Actually, that’s not strictly true. We share tidying, washing, clearing up; but he does the DIY. Which, currently, is the most pressing of our needs for the house and the task that needs the vast majority of time spending on it. As I type this, in front our amazing wood burning stove, he is upstairs sawing floorboards, laying them, removing old nails, hammering in new ones. I made the breakfast this morning and will do the washing up after I’ve written this, before starting on my planning for the week.
I don’t see this as ‘falling into traditional gender stereotypes’. I plan our meals and do the cooking because
I’m better at it than he is I enjoy it; Aidan does the D.I.Y. because he is better at it, and I physically can’t. My do-it-yourself skills extend to just about managing to take some wallpaper off the wall, and to be honest I’d still prefer it if Aidan did-it-himself.
The two magazine covers above show two different approaches to home improvement as a couple in the 1950s. The first picture shows the wife assisting her husband, whilst wearing full makeup and a lovely set of pearls. The second picture shows the wife performing tasks herself, wearing more appropriate garb. Initally, when I looked at these, I thought, “I’m offering neither assistance nor help,” in the way these two wives are. What does that mean? Should I be at Aidan’s side whilst he fixes, saws, hammers, nails, curses and creates?
This third Homemaker picture probably typifies our roles more closely, although without me being quite so perfectly turned out, or with such a small waist. At one point in my life, it might have rankled me that I was fulfilling such a stereotype. Yet now I don’t see it like that, not really. We’re both in charge of the areas where our skills lie. We both have made the choice about how we operate as a couple. If I don’t want to cook one night, Aidan does it. If he’s getting fed up over the traumas of D.I.Y. I pep him back up and go to B&Q with him, not just leave him to sort it out because he’s the man. The key is, it’s a choice.
And that’s where it differs from the 1950s. How we choose to lead our lives does not get judged in any way by friends or family. If things changed tomorrow and Aidan became chief chef whilst I wielded the hammer and nails, nobody would bat an eyelid. (This is strictly not true; no-one in their right mind would be anywhere near me with a hammer in my hand, but that’s not the point). In the 1950s, the woman probably still was expected to clean the house and feed her family whether she’d helped with the home improvements or not; society pretty much dictated that and to do otherwise would be to face disapproval. How many men from the 1950s would have finished tiling the bathroom, with their wife on hand to help, then gone and cooked the evening meal, and washed all that up afterwards as well? Yet you could still argue that these same men may have had a day at work as well as the evening or weekend of D.I.Y. as well. The argument swings both ways: women and men were expected to behave in certain ways, fulfilling specific roles, whether they wanted to or not. Nowadays, certainly in my personal world, the choice is down to the individuals involved.
I’m wondering what I’m trying to say here… there’s no argument as such. Perhaps I’m doing nothing more than trying to justify a lazy Sunday while Aidan works. Or giving myself a reason to show case these pictures. What is becoming clear to me is that I could do more D.I.Y. if I wanted to. After looking at these Homemaker magazine covers, part of me is thinking that Ishouldbe doing more. At the very least, I could be serving up his meals with a much nicer dress on…
I began writing this thinking about how we – i.e., Aidan and me – are keen to replicate some of the mid century feel within our own home, and that these magazines could provide some of our inspiration. What I didn’t realise was how much the lifestyle itself was rubbing off on us as well.
Just two of these to share today which made me smile for different reasons:
It’s not difficult to see why Quaker’s Quick Macaroni isn’t still a staple in our diets… Savoury and satisfying, apparently. My first thought upon seeing that wasn’t, “Mmmm, delicious!” but: “Worms!” I’m not sure I trust Jane Beaton (cookery expert of Woman’s Own) and her judgement of food any more after her recommendation of that…
What I like about this advert is the mid century styling of the furniture. That room divider is amazing! Also, ‘Nut Crunch’ icecream? Completely all over that…
Which advert do you prefer? Worms macaroni or Mid-century icecream?
As we appear to be experiencing what is now becoming the customary January cold snap, why not dream of warmer climates by admiring these adverts from 1958? Featuring the cruise collection by Best & Co, these adverts show off some of the best of New York fashion from 1958; on a background of stylish, mid-century building and airplanes. “You’ll have fun Island-Hopping Intercontinental style” the slogan proclaims: just the daydream we all need in the Wintery North of England.
The Hotel Embajador Intercontinental in Ciudad Trujillo appears to be still there. Deja Vu Collectors has got a postcard from the era of the hotel:
The Hotel Jaragua Intercontinental doesn’t appear to have any modern mentions. However, I did find these old graphics for the hotel on a website called delcampe.net:
Vintage luggage labels for the Hotel Curacao Intercontinental in the Netherlands Antilles are availabe for sale on Ebay here:
Best & Co. was originally a baby and children’s retailer, founded in 1879 in New York City by Albert Best. Originally known as the Lilliputian Bazaar, it later changed its name and expanded to women’s clothing and accessories. According to Wikipedia:
“The flagship was located originally in the “Ladies’ Mile” near Sixth Avenue and 23rd Street. In 1908, Best & Co. purchased for $500,000 the former Engineer’s Club at 372 Fifth Avenue at 35th Street for a new store, joining an elite group of merchants to locate in that section of Fifth Avenue in the early 1900s, including B. Altman, Gorham, and Tiffany’s. This limestone building later became the Bond Clothing Stores flagship when Best moved farther up the avenue, and was later converted to apartments. Its final 12-story flagship store was located at Fifth Avenue and 51st Street, next to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. (It can be seen in the movie The Godfather…it’s where Michael and Kay have shopped just before seeing the Don has been shot). It was acquired by the company in 1944, from the Union Club. After it closed in late-1970, the beautiful white marble building was torn down and the Olympic Tower was built in its place.”
All of these adverts come from a 1958 January edition of the American ‘Glamour’ magazine – not to be confused with the modern-day, British version. What I love about these adverts is just how redolent they are of a previous era: the illustrations, the fashion, the designs of the hotel, the descriptions of the clothes… all create the perfect ‘mid-century’ image that many people nowadays strive for.
There are some beautiful covers and images from the 1950s contained within the pages of my vintage Woman’s Own magazines:
There are so many gorgeous images in these Christmas specials that I just can’t show them all. I took nearly a hundred pictures! So, I will choose my favourites to wish you all Merry Christmas with. Huge thanks and best wishes to everyone who has followed my blog over the last few years. I hope these pictures help get you into the festive mood for tomorrow.
The advertisers of the 1950s seemed to promote a ‘fake realism’ quite strongly. By that I mean, that each image seems intended to portray a realistic lifestyle want or need but quite often in a fake-looking way. Christmas seems to give them an excuse to release some imaginative advertisements; yet for some of them, I can’t help but feel it’s an excuse to ‘bung’ on a few Christmas graphics and see how it sells:
This next advert was a very pleasant surprise when I was searching the magazines this morning. As a child, Enid Blyton was my absolute favourite author. I have very many happy memories of sitting reading The Famous Five, The Naughtiest Girl, The Enchanted Tree, Malory Towers, The Magic Wishing Chair and many, many more of her books.
My favourite advert is probably this one:
I just love how it’s one of the least Christmas-related products ever, yet Kia-Ora did a grand job of popping some Christmas graphics next to their bottle of squash and suddenly, even I want to buy a bottle of it for tomorrow!
A drizzly Sunday calls for some home cooking. A big Sunday dinner and a delicious pudding, covered in custard is just the ticket for warming you up on a damp, miserable day like today. The 1950s must have been the boom time for custard and other sweet dessert treats, after years of rationing and frugal dinner planning. Many of my magazines have full page, colour adverts for Bird’s Custard on the back:
What I like about these adverts are the recipe suggestions they include. I did actually make one once. It was for Hot Spot pudding, or something like that and it involved mixing breadcrumbs in with the custard, lots and lots of ground almonds and splodging chocolate buttons on the top. I liked it’s stodginess, but it was too much for Aidan. It did weigh rather heavily on your stomach! I like the look of the ‘King-Of-The-Castle Custards’ above. They strike me as the kind of thing that would NEVER work for me, ending up in a wibbly wobbly mess on the plate.
That advert’s well out of season, but I still like the look of those sauces. Almond or Chocolate nut sauce anyone? They’d go just as well on top of a sponge cake or apple crumble as they would on top of fruit or jelly.
Bird’s also made blancmange puddings:
So many 1950s adverts seem to involve the words ‘Now _____ than ever!’ Whether it’s better, creamier, larger, smaller, more delicious; every item claims to be better than before. The marketing is much more direct and obvious than nowadays. No obscure symbolism for those ad men!
All of this has got my mouth watering for my own Sunday dinner… I think I’ve got some Angel Delight somewhere, that might just have to do!
Feeling slightly sorry for myself as I’ve come down with a horrible cold. I’m really annoyed. I’ve been looking forward to this weekend all week, and now I’m probably going to spend it in bed – what a waste!
Anyway, to cheer myself up and possibly make me better, I’ve found these adverts from the 1950s; all full of tonics and vitamins to combat the cold.
We must make sure that we’re fit and healthy so that those dishes can carry on getting washed and the children looked after. God forbid your husband should do it.
Remember: ‘you must avoid constipation’. That is an order.
That’s exactly how I’ve been using my handkerchief…
This appears to be how they used handkerchiefs and tissues in the 1950s: ram them up your nose and leave it there to hang. Perhaps it is to soak up the snott before it has a chance to leave your schnozzle?
Clearly Cephos lost the fight over infections against Beechams and Veno’s. Maybe it was because they were expecting their poorly customers to be able to say their slogan with a cold: “Gephos Gonquers Golds…” Or perhaps it was because it worked so well that any woman that took them ‘was able to get up the next day and carry on with the chores.’ I’d stay ill a bit longer if that was what was waiting for me once I was better.
I’m not entirely sure what a ‘nerve pain’ is, but judging by her expression, I don’t want it. I’ll keep my cold, thanks.
To be perfectly honest, there are too many unnecessary jokes that pop into my mind when I look at that picture. Let’s just say I wouldn’t go anywhere near the man drinking Lucozade if he looked like that! I never got the thing about Lucozade being an energy replacement drink; I was too much of an ’80s child when it had been remarketed as a sports drink. But if we ever got ill as children, this would be my dad’s contribution to making us better – a bottle of Lucozade.
Once when my sister Kirsty was particularly poorly, Dad was working away. All day she mithered about him coming home and bringing her some Lucozade, which he eventually did. It must have made an impression on her because as she was asleep that night, in her sleep I heard her first cry, then giggle and then say,
I still giggle myself now remembering it.
Just in case you missed it, Andrews Liver Salt is for ‘inner cleanliness’. I love that this advert still retains some of the Victorian viewpoint on ‘disorders of the blood’ that need corrective action. They’re always very vague-sounding illnesses: humours and that sort of thing. Get some Liver Salt down you and you’ll no longer suffer from ‘Spring-time disorders’ and ‘biliousness’…
In our household, the notion of man-flu does not exist. I’ve got the man-flu for both of us; Aidan is one of those valiant types who refuses to get ill, whereas the first tickle of a sore throat and I’m convinced I’ve got the plague. However, man-flu appears to have been a common concept, even in the 1950s:
Unlike the Cephos tablets, there would be no malingering illness with me if I thought someone was going to feed me ‘A partially pre-digested food’. How vile sounding!
Looking at these has really cheered me up. Perhaps I should go and invest in a few horrendous sounding remedies to shift my own cold.
I really wanted to title this post, ‘A Lot On My West German Pottery Plate’ but then I realised that two of the plates I’m featuring aren’t from the country, let alone the region… ne’er mind!
This plate by Bjørn Wiinblad is part of the Rosenthal Studio Line. It’s tiny! I didn’t realise we had this but Aidan has firked it out this morning. ‘Firked’ is a verb coined by my mum which Aidan has adopted. It means to find something out. Well, this morning a few plates have been firked out for you to have a look at.
I’ve got grand plans for these plates if we ever buy a bigger house. Feature wall, somewhere prominent with a vast array of different plates adorning it… Vintage Vixen did a similar thing with her Wall of Misery; I want to make a Wall of Retro Platery.
This gorgeous piece of Italian Tourist Tattery was found by my sister Megan on a recent trip for her and my dad to Germany. It matched the lovely Italian vase I bought from Kevin Graham on our last trip, so I had to have it as soon as I saw it. It’s been featured on this blog before, but any excuse to show it again is good enough for me. These pieces were made in the 1960s in the Republic of San Marino. There are similarities to the Fat Lava of West German Pottery in the crusty, thick, white glaze around the edge; which contrasts in a stunning manner with the high-gloss smoothness of the central image.
This beautiful 1950s Ruscha wall plate depicts a market scene. Ruscha did a range of these plates and plaques which showed scenes from different streets or views. This is the only one I have, but it is a beauty.
The detail and effort that goes into these pieces shows up on the smallest scale. There are at least three different applications of glaze on her skirt.
Is it a horse? is it a deer? Is it a giraffe? Is it some strange hybrid of the three? I’m really not sure, but I do still like this little 1950s plate very much. The elongated necks and legs of these creatures, when coupled with their cheeky chirpy faces, create the cutesy kitsch feel of the 1950s. *Update* Aidan has just entered the room and mocked me considerably about this – apparently, they’re clearly giraffes. Fine then. Whatever. They’re giraffes.
This plate is marked underneath with ‘L’Ancora Alura 208′. At first glance, I thought this was another Italian company. However, a quick Google search has discovered that it’s actually a Dutch company: Ceramics Company van den Kroonenberg. The website I found is incredibly useful and definitely worth a visit – Dutch Pottery and Ceramics marks. They say about the pottery, ‘Industrial produced Retro PopArt decorative art pottery, L’Ancora ceramics, produced by Ceramics Company van den
Kroonenberg, with black mat fragments, scratched in lines and partial covered glazes as decoration, like girls & boys heads.’ The picture they have of the backstamp also matches mine perfectly.
There are probably more plates hidden and buried in various boxes around the house, in the loft and in our friend’s garage. I think my Wall of Retro Platery is well on its way though.
Taken from ‘Woman’ magazine, week ending January 12th, 1952:
“What a nation of grumblers and worriers we are! I guess I used to be the same, but three years of living among the natives in South America took away my grouses.
They have practically nothing by our standards, living very primitively, going out to fish when they are hungry, otherwise never bothering to work. They live literally from day to day, and truly enjoy themselves.
All we seem to do is fuss about the future, but does it help?
There the very poorest make music, and it seems that the children are born dancing.
If only we smiled more and bothered less, we’d feel so much more grateful for our comfortable lives.”
It’s just a thought that seems to be resonating with me today…. I wish I felt a bit more like this: