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.
Ladybird Books remind me of some of the happiest times of my childhood. Since an early age, I have been an avid reader; anything I can lay my hands on that can be read will be read. Much of this love of reading undoubtedly comes from the Ladybird Books my mum bought me as a youngster. Each week, I was allowed to buy a new book as a treat if I’d been good (I always was…!). My face in finding a new one I wanted to read was probably very similar to this:
I actually didn’t have this edition of ‘Cinderella’ as a child: I had the more modern version. But I do remember poring over the details of Cinderella’s dresses, wishing that I could wear one of them.
More recently, I seem to have seen some of the 1964 illustrations by Eric Winter popping up in various places. I bought a postcard featuring one of the pictures from Wowie Zowie a couple of months ago for the wall in my classroom. Since then, I’ve been thinking about the Cinderella pictures on and off, debating with myself whether to buy my own copy or not.
Last week I found a copy in George Street Books in Glossop and have thought about it all week… I’m so glad that I decided to get it. The illustrations are exquisite! I’ve now got grand intentions of enlarging a few and using them for displays at work, or even to frame some up for our new house. They might have to go into ‘my’ room though – I can’t imagine Aidan will like them!
’Cinderella’ forms part of the series of ‘Well Loved Tales’, published by Ladybird Books between 1964 and the 1980s. The earlier editions, up until the 28th book ‘Tom Thumb’ were illustrated by Eric Winter, Robert Lumley and Capaldi. This edition of ’Cinderella’ was written by Vera Southgate. Much more information can be found out at TheWeeWeb: a site devoted to Ladybird Books.
I picked this up from the Post Office depot yesterday morning. Found on a fuzzy photograph on Ebay in America and costing me the grand total of seven dollars… it’s one of the stand-out images from Lifestyle Illustrations of the ’60s and I’m just a little bit excited about having my own copy. ‘Mother is a Movie Queen’ by Coby Whitmore has to be one of the most stunning mid-century illustrations I’ve ever seen. And to think it was created for a woman’s weekly magazine. It should have been splashed across film posters and billboards across America and England.
The seller did include a tiny, tiny note about the original magazine, but alas I’ve managed to lose it in the packaging! The date was 30th September, 1961 but I can’t remember if it was from Woman’s Weekly or Woman’s Illustrated. I think much internet searching is going to ensue to find out again… or I could just email them to ask.
The pictures are a bit dark thanks to the lighting in our living room Saturday evening. However, the magazine pages are in fantastic condition. I’m thinking of getting them framed, but I can’t decide whether to frame both pages or just the main one.
Isn’t she stunning? Hair, dress, pose; even the ’60s chair is a dream. I’m so excited and pleased with this: it was worth every cent!
If you wish to buy the gorgeous ‘Lifestyle Illustration of the ’60s’, it can be found on Amazon here. The fantastic Today’s Inspiration blog also features guest posts by the ’historical expert’ David Roach here. I’m just waiting for the ’50s edition to be released now.
It’s a spectacularly rainy day here in Devon, so we decided to take a trip to Totnes. Unfortunately, the pickings were fairly slim in the town’s charity shops. However, we did find this little gem and after some deliberation (and yummy veggie food at the Willow cafe), I decided to buy it:
I got thoroughly drenched on our walk round; my own fault for being stubborn and not taking the brolly with me. It’s lovely and cosy to be back in the cottage now: laptop on, cup of tea and fire merrily flickering away behind me. Even the rain spattering outside is adding to the cosiness. The book is delightful. I’m so glad I bought it. Already, my mind is whirling with ideas of what to do with it. I think some Halloween-themed lessons will be in order next week.
The book, ‘Pleasant Fieldmouse’s Halloween Party’ was written by Jan Wahl in 1974. This edition was published in Great Britain in 1976. The gorgeous pictures are by Wallace Tripp. Other books about Pleasant Fieldmouse have been illustrated by Maurice Sendak, but I much prefer Trip’s whimsical and beautiful drawings. The sleeve jacket reads:
“When swallows fly south and pumpkins turn orange, the forest animals get ready for winter. But Pleasant Fieldmouse isn’t thinking about the cold wind – he’s planning a Halloween party! When the moonlit, spooky night arrives, there are rustling sounds… and sudden, scary noises! The mysterious capers that precede the party guarantee a night of surprises for everyone, including some uninvited guests, and especially Pleasant Fieldmouse. The lively and warm illustrations by Wallace Tripp are a perfect complement to Jan Wahl’s rambunctious and humourous- BOO!”
These are some of my favourite drawings from the book – how cute are the tiny mice in their little ghost costumes? And with the sentence, “Some end-of-year honeybees flew, timidly, as tiny, tiny bee ghosts.” you can’t fail to be captured by the writing as well.
The poor mole – moles are always portrayed as boring and miserable. I wonder why it is? I’ve got quite an affection for moles…
Unfortunately, I’m having huge problems with the internet here. Blame the rural location, horrendous weather or my own ineptitude. Either way, it’s taken two hours to get this far… so I’ll continue with pictures from the next part of the story another day.
When we were in Germany the last time, we visited this amazing fleamarket in Cologne (I think it was Cologne… it could have been somewhere else…); anyway, it was amazing – bit more expensive but had a fantastic array of mid century design, 60s objects and just generally some impressive looking stuff for us to rummage through. Some of the things I bought were this selection of books for 50 cents each:
Translated as ‘Escape the Night’.
No prizes for translating that one. Even if you’ve never learned any German, ‘Der Tiger’ is a fairly obvious one!
The original title for this one is ‘The French Key Mystery’. How on earth that relates to a bear holding a bloodied knife is anyone’s guess. The German translates to ‘The Iron Bear’. Or bar. It could be bar. I put it into Google translate without the umlaut… I’m not sure how much difference it makes!
That one has the original title of ‘Death before Dinner’; I can see the link much more clearly between the picture and the title here!
What I like about these is the stark boldness of the graphics. The stories come from the 1930s, but these editions were published in the 1950s. One day, I may improve my German so much that I can even read them, rather than just enjoying their slightly morbid front covers.
Before I bring on the beautiful images, I should tell you I’ve really struggled to find any information on Gerry Fancett. I just can’t believe that an artist, a fantastic illustrator, who was so prolific and created such beautiful images can disappear from the public consciousness with half a century.
It seems a little strange to begin with a picture from Christmas, especially in the midst of an Indian Summer (thanks, by the way, to the tweeps who led me to the meaning of this phrase!), but this picture shows so much about public perception of family life in the 1950s. It is such a stereotypical picture: the perfect children and stylish parents. I particularly like the matching grey shoes and hair of the mother.
The Christmas theme continues… Perhaps I should have saved these pictures until nearer the time! Well, if the shops can start putting out their Christmas stock now, then I can do the blog equivalent. Love ‘Prue’s’ jewellery and the way the two men are looking at her rather than the tree.
Some of the pictures aren’t as brightly coloured in the magazines, presumably it was more expensive to use more colours. I’m not as keen on this particular picture, but I do like the use of pink and white. This picture is much more to my liking:
There’s something about the faces that I don’t like here though; I don’t think the girl’s facial features are in proportion somehow. The woman in ‘An Exile in Soho’ doesn’t look right either. Thankfully, some of the other pictures are much better.
This picture I’ve featured before:
It still makes me smile to look at this one: it really does seem as if he’s about to conk her over the head with what looks like a policeman’s baton. I think it’s actually an umbrella.
My final two pictures are my favourites.
It’s the story behind this one that captures me; the romance of it. You can see in the woman’s eyes that she loves this man, yet something is troubling her. Perhaps it’s the last time they can see each other?
I adore this picture. My eyes are captivated by her stunning dress, the rosy pinkness and sparkles cascading down the front. One day, I will find the occasion where I can wear a dress like that.
All I’ve managed to find about Fancett is that he worked at Grestock & Marsh in the mid ’60s, thanks to a page on a colleague of his Frank Haseler. Today’s Inspiration also has some information and artwork on some more of his colleagues here. It would be good to find out some more about Fancett, but like so many of these illustrators, it seems that time has not been a great preserver.
One of my favourite finds from yesterday was this:
This book was published by Hamlyn in 1971. The cover illustrations are by Ron Stenberg. All of the old classic fairy tales are here: Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, The Fisherman’s Wife… I remember all of them from my childhood. What drew me to the book as an adult were the gorgeous illustrations:
I’m planning to enlarge some of the pictures to use in my classroom as display, but also creative writing stimulus. I can also forsee many happy hours spent reading the stories and admiring the different styles of pictures illustrating each tale.
Joe De Mers (1910-1988) was an American production artist who spent most of the 1930s working at Warner Brothers, creating production art, before moving onto illustration. In New York, he found massive success with the Charles E. Cooper studio, where he became one of their star artists. His work has appeared in Woman’s Own and Woman in Great Britain, as well as becoming a regular in The Saturday Evening Post, McCalls and The Ladies Home Journal. (Lifestyle Illustration of the ’60s. Edited by Rian Hughes. 2010)
These pictures are not to everybody’s taste: there’s an interesting argument here about their artistic merits. For me, not being a trained artist or really having a clue what I’m talking about, they are enough to bring me happiness when I look at them. I do find them pretty to look at and, really, what’s so terribly wrong about that?
“She had tried to forget him, knowing he would bring her nothing but heartbreak. But as he played that night, she heard the music pouring forth the old, old magic of a love song.”
How could she expect him to return her love, when she was afraid to show she even cared?
My favourite caption accompanies this one:
Fathers are Such Fun. They should be, they don’t have to cope with the children all day!
It’s quite different from his usual style, but it is from a much later period and the story it accompanies is also quite unusual in it’s tone. Usually, they’re about women and men falling in love in various circumstances – not about a married couple coping with their children. Perhaps it reflects the change in viewpoint between the 1950s and 1960s?
Not only was Joe De Mers one of the more famous and proflific illustrators, he also mentored other well-known artists. There are some fantastic sources of information on him around the internet. Some excellent places to continue with are:
- Today’s Inspiration Blog
- American Art Archives - Page on Pepsi ads featuring Joe De Mers
- Curtis Publishing – Leading Ladies which also has a free pdf download featuring some of Joe De Mers’ artwork.
- Pinups by Joe De Mers
For many of these artists, it’s difficult to find anything out about them and Ben Ostrick is no exception. I had a small piece of luck in finding a ‘Between Friends’ feature on him and his family once I’d started scouring the magazines for his work. I also managed to find an interesting fact through my internet ‘rummaging’. More on this later…
‘Between Friends’ is an editorial feature at the start of the Woman’s Own magazines. They usually chose a couple of people featured within the magazine that issue, to expand on either their home life or context to the feature they had produced. Luckily for me, this particular edition gave a few autobiographical details about Ben Ostrick:
“What started us humming it was Benjamin Ostrick’s lovely illustration to Paul Smith’s romantic story, ‘Some Enchanted Evening,’ on Page 8… His particular Enchanted Evening had nothing to do with the South Sea Islands. He found his story, and the mood for it, in the same spot in Paris, where, by a remarkable coincidence, Benjamin Ostrick, the artist, on holiday with his wife last summer stood skitching – the Sacre Coeur on top of Montmartre.
Knowing Paris and its atmosphere of romance, you may say that was hardly a coincidence. But it’s surely remarkable that although the artist had never met the author, Ostrick should be ready to capture on the easel the exact mood of Paul Smith’s story.
“Learning the hard way
In the picture on this page you see Ostrick, in a different mood, at home in his flat near Clapham Common, London. That’s how we caught him – baby worshipping – the object of devotion being his seven-month old daughter Lisa Dawn.
Ostrick has packed a great deal of experience into his thirty-four years. At fourteen, he turned his back on a newly won scholarship to become a printer’s boy, at half-crown a week – for one week only.
Then he was articled to a studio, where he washed brushes, mixed paints, and swept the floor for fourteen-and-twopence a week.
But he was learning all the time and soon, in another studio, he did a cinema display painting of Donald Duck which brought applause from the boss and that gave him confidence.
“So he went from studio to studio until the war came along, and then he met Marie, now his wife.
With £80 saved up, he started his own studio near Piccadilly, with Marie doing modelling and secretarial work.
She does no modelling now – too busy, with baby and Benjamin to look after!
Ostrick sold the studio some time ago, and set up as a freelance – and a very busy one he is.”
I think the woman in this picture looks a little like his wife, Marie. And Ostrick himself seems to appear (as a younger man) in this one:
I adore the woman’s daisy brooch on this picture. Notice Ostrick’s signature on the bottom left. It doesn’t appear on all of his work.
As is typical for women’s magazines at this time, many of the pictures depict submissive women in a passionate pose with a dominant man. It wasn’t the done thing for a lady to do the chasing back then…
The colours on that one are particularly wonderful. I should point out that, as in previous illustration posts, the titles I’m giving the pictures come from the name of the stories they accompany. I don’t know what the real name of each piece would be, but this seems as good a way as any to identify them. The dates are from when the magazine was published.
These next two pictures differ slightly in their style:
Neither of these show a kiss, and ‘Strangers May Kiss’ looks different in style and intensity of colours used to me. Note the charm bracelet the woman is wearing – very fashionable in the 1950s.
Ostrick worked for the Artist’s Partners Agency in London, as did Aubrey Rix and many other noted illustrators of the era. However, there is literally nothing about him on their website. According to the Travelling Art Gallery website, Ostrick designed covers for the ‘John Bull’ and ‘Romance’ magazines. I also found a link to a James Bond front cover, when on another site it named Ostrick as the illustrator under the alias ‘J. Oval’.
The signature looks typed, so that’s difficult to compare. However, the style and ‘look’ of the woman seems to match with Ostrick’s other work. Once you search for J. Oval on the internet, you find quite a few of the ‘Romance’ type novels being credited to his name. Here is a good example of some of them. I’m not posting any here though as, to my unqualified eyes, the quality does not look as good as the images he created under his own name, with the exception of the James Bond cover.
- Woman’s Own magazines from personal collection, 1951-1955
- Travelling Art Gallery
- Advertising Archives
One of the things I love about these magazines is that even on the pages where they don’t use full colour, there’s still an attempt to create a pleasing effect. These ‘pink pages’ are no exception. In fact, pink seems to be a theme for the April editions:
She doesn’t look that upset by her ‘cold and frigid’ husband; still found the time to put on a nice skirt and do her makeup.
This is one of the few illustrations I’ve seen that doesn’t depict a man and a woman; I quite like it for this.
We head off to Germany tomorrow! If I get chance, I’ll line up a couple of posts before I go. Otherwise, it’s Auf Wiedersehen until Thursday next week.
- April Illustrations: Woman 1947 (littleowlski.wordpress.com)
- March Illustrations: The ’70s (littleowlski.wordpress.com)