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!
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.
It seems slightly surreal to be writing about Easter when the weather resembles the depths of Winter. Easter equals Spring, birds chirping, drip drip drop little April showers… not, hide indoors because it’s a blizzard outside.
One of the things I love about my Woman’s Own magazines (amongst many) is how the covers vary from month to month, season to season. Many modern magazines are fairly homogenous; these ladies have character, and although the basic format stays the same, there is still an individuality to each one. These Easter issues are beautiful.
The sheep cover reminds me of when we went camping a few years ago at Easter and it snowed! We were on a small working farm, halfway between Llandudno and Conwy. At the time, we didn’t have a car so we’d walked a good few miles to get to the farm, then had about a seven mile walk to Llandudno and again to Conwy (we were at the third point of a triangle between the two if that makes sense). If I remember rightly, the first night there it hailed. Despite zipping sleeping bags together and wearing virtually everything we owned, we were freezing. The next day we walked into Llandudo and it snowed. So we bought a duvet and some scrumpy cider… I’m not sure whether it was the duvet or the cider, but we were toasty that night.
That’s also the night I hallucinated that there were goblins running around the outside of our tent, but the less said about that the better…
Bet she never hallucinated about goblins running around her tent…
We moved about a month and a half ago, and apart from ordering (and receiving) our stove, we’ve yet to start decorating the house. Last weekend, we moved up into the loft room – currently named ‘The Cocoon’ – in readiness of preparations. I’m not sure what Aidan’s got in store for us this weekend; possibly pulling up carpets and stripping wallpaper.
We really want to bring mid-century style to our 1890′s house. We’ve got a stone exterior and lots of original features, which will definitely be staying, so it’s going to be a tricky task to merge the two style together successfully. Luckily, we’ve got a few magazines featuring just the kind of style we’re after.
I adore the sofa in the picture above and I’m pretty sure that the crockery set in the sideboard is a Midwinter one. There’s something about mid-century design and style that seems to have lasted well; thankfully, more and more people are starting to appreciate it. Unfortunately though, this means that prices are going up as well.
Woman’s Own, Thursday March 15th 1956 featured a pull out booklet on Home decorating ideas. Some of the fabrics, wallpapers and furniture are fantastic:
Some of the prints are just amazing. I keep scouring Ebay but to no avail. I’m either going to have to be prepared to part with the money for something authentic, or grit my teeth and get something more modern. There are some good contemporary wallpapers and fabrics which offer a very similar style, in keeping with the true mid-century style. We’d just rather have the real thing, then we could look like this couple:
Hopefully, by keeping our eyes open and taking our time, we’ll be able to put all of our inspiration to good use and find the perfect pieces, wallpapers, paints and curtains to put our mark on our new house. Lots of fun along the way, too!
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.
My collection of Woman’s Own magazines is quickly becoming one of my most prized possessions. I adore flicking through them, admiring the adverts, drooling over the fashion and wishing I could draw like Aubrey Rix, Joe de Mers or Coby Whitmore. One of the things I love about them is that they are mainly for the working class to lower middle class woman; they are aimed at the every day women of the era and really give an insight into the mindset of the time.
A Vogue magazine is something different. Just like the magazine today, it is more aspirational, a dream and definitely not mundane. Although prices for the vintage Vogue magazines of the ’50s and ’60s can be anything up to fifty pounds, I would adore to have one – just one – to admire the high fashion, photography and illustration.
Of all of these, my favourites are:
The model on the cover of the March 1962 edition looks stunning: like something Louis Shabner or J.H. Lynch would paint. And I love the design of the 1954 cover, especially the jewelled detail.
What’s at the top of your Christmas wish list?
For more reading:
Vogue.co.uk - where all of these pictures came from. There’s an archive here of back issues with details of the features and articles in each one.
MyVintageVogue - Blog showcasing a vintage fashion archive from 1920-1960s
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!
Regular readers will know by now my love for all things of yesteryear. My decade of choice is the 1950s, though I will go to the ’60s and late ’40s at a push. I do have some magazines from the ’70s and ’80s but they never get read, so I’ve made the decision to sell them. If you’re interested, all of the magazines below will be listed on Ebay from this evening for seven days.
There are some quite interesting articles and adverts in them. My favourite advert is a Nivea one: it has a picture of a really old Native American woman and a caption that reads something like, “Looks 80 doesn’t she? Halve that to get nearer her real age.” Apparently using Nivea will stop you looking like a wizened old squaw…
Have a look at the magazines on Ebay here.
Rowntree’s Jelly adverts seem to be perfectly designed to make your mouth water.
Several months ago, I subscribed to the Midcentury Magazine after stumbling across their website and being extremely impressed by the articles they seemed to be offering. The first issue arrived a week later and I was surprisingly pleased and impressed by it. My second issue dropped through the letterbox yesterday, and once again I’m thrilled with it. Beautifully designed pages accompanied by quality writing and a superb reference point of Mid Century modern designers, both current and of the era. The latest cover looks like a print that could be framed itself.
“Midcentury Magazine is a UK-based biannual publication catering for all you 20th Century design enthusiasts out there.” Taken from the website.
This is essentially what this magazine does – and very well indeed. The variety of articles is well thought out: tapping into current trends (Super Sonics: The Turntable); showing off the kind of homes its readers will aspire to (Scheer Delight: A Bespoke Home from 1968); and even connecting with recent occurrences in the modern world (The Soul Creator: The man behind Tintin). My particular favourite from this issue was the insight into the home of Cherril and Ian Scheer. Designed by Gerd Kaufmann and built in 1968, the couple’s impeccable taste shines through the delightful photographs, matched by their enthusiasm and expansive knowledge of the era, design and history of the Hille company, the founder of which Cherrill is the granddaughter. Clearly, the reporting also matches the high quality of the rest of the magazine as the article oozes with information and warmth for their topic.
Unlike the also recently launched Vintage Life magazine, where the quality control appears to be arbitrary; here quality appears to be key. There is attention to detail in the consistency of the graphic design used and the style of writing employed. Precise prose using a readable, fluent style is always attractive to me: like many others, I don’t want to wade through indecipherable sentences to hit the heart of the subject. Nor do I want fluffy or sensationalist writing. The writers, including Emma Roper-Evans, Tabitha Teuma, Jo-ann Fortune and Tom Rigden, have targeted their audience perfectly. The result is comprehensible and distinctive.
Fantastic writing is matched by beautiful design:
The consistent approach of juxtaposing the text and superb photography (Ben Anders, Jonathan Goldberg and Tino Tedaldi) with bold stripes and sections of colour in Mid Century tones works well and brings a cohesion across issues and articles. Created by the design team of Tim Balaam and Kate Sclater at Hyperkit, it’s a striking look, simple in concept but stylish in execution.
The magazine is also more than just being a ‘good read’. It provides an excellent reference and inspiration point for Mid Century design. Accompanying captions provide details of the objects in the photographs where possible and there is an extensive directory at the back showcasing retailers working in this era of design. Yet, it doesn’t feel like the usual directory that gets crammed into the back of a magazine. In fact, it’s probably the first one that I’ve genuinely looked through with interest, before selecting websites to look up myself. Perhaps that’s because it’s coming up to Christmas and I need the present ideas, but surely that is the point of a well thought out directory? It’s not just any old company who came along and offered the cash for advertising; again, it feels like someone with an eye for quality and consistency has selected who they want to feature.
What Midcentury Magazine has accomplished where, for me, few others have; is to have produced a magazine that plays to its readers perfectly. It’s giving me what I want in the way I want it… Interesting articles, classy writing, inspiration for my own home and all encased inside a beautifully designed package. This magazine is not to be read once before resigning it to the recycle bin. It is to be read and referred back to again and again. Not only an essential for any Mid Century enthusiast, I think it’s destined to become a classic in itself.
For much more information, to read sample articles and to subscribe to Mid Century magazine, visit their website here. You can also follow them on Twitter @midcenturymag.