an Ad a Day

A look at the marketing that surrounds us.

Posts Tagged ‘1930s’

Vintage Friday: World’s Fairs in the 1930s

Posted by Rosepixie on May 28, 2010

World’s Fairs used to be a big deal.  They were the place to go to see the latest and greatest inventions, discoveries, art, music and more.  They were huge undertakings that drew enormous crowds.  Even though they generally existed in their own mini-villages of fantastic buildings, they tended to be hosted by major cities who used the worlds fairs to draw tourism to the rest of their attractions as well.  Today I have two posters advertising two different world’s fairs only a few years apart.

The Chicago World’s Fair – 1934

The New York World’s Fair – 1939

What struck me most about these posters was how very different they are.  Each represents something about the flavor and attitude of the host city.

The Chicago poster is bright and busy and the first thing I thought of when I looked at it was music – the visual cues suggest music in a variety of ways (lines on sheet music, radio microphones, etc.).  Music is such a cornerstone of the Chicago cultural identity that this makes sense.  The poster even has “hear” listed as something you can do when you visit the fair.

The New York poster is simpler, but evokes the iconic Lady Liberty, who is one of New York City’s most famous attractions.  It also gives the impression that New York is a city of the world, with the globe and people moving across the surface of that image to the fair and towards where New York is located.  This idea is one that is pretty central to New York thinking (even if the rest of the world doesn’t always agree with it).

I like both of these posters, even though neither tells you what’s actually at a world’s fair.  They’re colorful and eye-catching and both carry a lot of the flavor of the place where the attraction is located, which is a big plus for travel ads.


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Vintage Friday: Foot Saver Shoes

Posted by Rosepixie on April 23, 2010

This is an ad from 1935 and is for Foot Saver Shoes.

The text reads:

Just a Foolish Vestal Virgin!

She went to the Masquerade Ball as a Vestal Virgin.  And everything was thrilling – till he asked her to sit out a dance.  It was then that she saw him looking at her feet – her weak points, she knew, the toes twisted, the arches swollen, the heels all calloused.  She shouldn’t have worn those revealing sandals to this party.

…He left for the West several days later.  A short note from him.  Then silence.  Gossips wondered what could have nipped their budding romance.  But she knew!


Women of every age are thinking, as never before, about the appearance of their bare feet.  Swimming, stockingless ensembles, openwork sandals – all reveal feminine feet to critical eyes.  And misshapen feet are not only unlovely to look at but they indicate foot troubles which exact their penalty in “crows feet” at the eyes, jagged nerves, loss of vitality.

Foot Saver Shoes are smart.  Your first glance will tell you that.  They breathe New York – Paris – in every line.  They flatter your feet, make them appear trim – yes, even dainty!

Yet Foot Savers are also comfortable.  A slender hidden spring supports the arch, makes walking once more a pleasure.  Correctly shaped over “free walking” lasts, they grasp the foot gently, but snugly, prevent the toes from jamming down in the point of the shoe, keep the heel from sliding.  Wear them and you can retain – or regain, if need be – true beauty of foot – something to remember with summer bathing days just ahead.

This ad made me laugh when I first came across it.  The story about the guy who dumped the girl because of her ugly feet just struck me as very funny.  Why would you even want a guy who would dump you for having less than perfect feet?  And the girl in the picture has very pretty feet indeed, so either she’s the woman in the story after having fixed her feet or (more likely) they just couldn’t bring themselves to use a model with less than perfect feet.

I also find it interesting that this ad talks about pretty open sandals, but shows closed, full-coverage leather shoes.

Still, I can understand wanting shoes that are both more comfortable and better for your feet.  It’s a worthwhile thing to look for, so it makes sense to advertise a product that way.  I’m just not sure about the story!

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Vintage Friday: Spring Curtains

Posted by Rosepixie on March 5, 2010

This is an ad for new curtains and a matching bedspread from a 1934 catalog.

These curtains certainly do feel like spring with all the flowers and pastel colors.  I’m not sure how widely appealing they are, though.  And the bedspread is more what I would think of for a child’s room now than for an adults, but this ad does not seem to be suggesting that it’s intended for a child’s room at all (in fact, the size of the bed would suggest that it’s intended for a couple’s room).

But the theming is great and they’ve certainly tapped into the idea of wanting to spruce everything up and make everything new for spring.  “Refreshing as the new season!”, “a gay spread… and drapes to match”, and “It’s Springtime… new curtain time!”  They are great phrases to get shoppers excited about the idea of fresh, happy new things for a fresh, beautiful new season.

While I don’t think I’d buy any of these curtains, I think the ad is great.  It’s well laid out and the text works perfectly to convey the excitement of buying new things.  This was also one of the few pages in color in the catalog, which means even more attention was drawn to these curtains!  I wonder how well they actually sold?

Posted in Home, Vintage | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Vintage Friday: The Grapes of Wrath

Posted by Rosepixie on January 8, 2010

This is the original cover illustration from The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck.

I love this illustration.  Not only is it simply a beautiful piece of art, it does a great job of selling this story.  The Grapes of Wrath is a long, depressing and brilliantly written story.  This cover shows a landscape that is pretty barren and a journey that is incredibly long, although not alone.  The family is dressed poorly (they don’t even have shoes).  You can tell from looking at this that you aren’t in for balls and banquets.  But it’s beautiful and there is a nobility to the family as they look out over the long row of trucks and cars piled with people’s lives.  And all of those things are exactly what you’ll find in the book.

The cover represents the book well and it a good light.  I wish they still made covers like this, but they are a rare thing these days.

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Vintage Friday: Menstruation Necessities from the 1930s

Posted by Rosepixie on December 18, 2009

This is a set of ads from a catalog from 1934 for sanitary pads and belts used by women when they were menstruating.

I thought that this was particularly interesting because you can see exactly how the belts worked.  I’ve heard many discussions wondering what women did while they were having their periods before they had panties to stick pads to and before other options (like tampons and diva cups) were invented, so I thought that this was worth posting.  So the next question, after we know how pads worked, is: what happened if they leaked?  Well, I have an answer to that one too!

These are two different styles of rayon and rubber “bloomers” designed to prevent any leaks from getting on your clothes and embarrassing you!  I think this was a great solution, especially since washing clothes was sometimes much harder back then.  I also thought it was pretty funny how loosely fit the bloomers are, though.  It makes a lot of sense that they would design them this way to appeal to women of the time, but I doubt many modern women would be comfortable wearing panties that fit that way!

So there is the answer to what women did about their periods before modern technology (at least, what they did in 1934 America, I’m sure different solutions existed in different places and different times).

Posted in Health and Science, Vintage | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Vintage Friday: Boy Socks

Posted by Rosepixie on December 11, 2009

This is an ad for socks for boys from 1934.

The text reads:

Boys anklets and golf hose

With regular tops – With garter tops

Swell patterns… boys!

Good quality cotton

I love this ad.  The socks are actually quite attractive, but I can’t see any boy wearing them today (at least not without risking getting beaten up).  These were apparently quite chic at the time, though.  The tall socks look cute with their puffy short pants and the short ones are actually kind of attractive in their own way.  Much more interesting than white tube socks, anyway.  I guess that’s really it – they’re more interesting than 95% of boy socks sold today.

And I like how the ad is colorful and speaks both to the boys themselves and to the parents who will actually be buying the items.  This was good marketing.  It’s telling the kids the socks are cool and the parents that they are well made and priced reasonably, rather than only focusing on one of them.

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Vintage Friday: Nainsook

Posted by Rosepixie on November 27, 2009

This is another ad from 1934.  This time it’s for men’s underwear (we’ve had enough women’s, I thought it was the men’s turn).

This ad is from the same catalog as the corset ads that I’ve posted before, but the tone is so different!  Those are all about how the corsets feel and how they will make your life better, this is all about how the nainsooks are “government standard” and strong!  I love the little illustration of the two men trying to tear the nainsook apart!

This ad made me laugh, but I’m also quite certain that it worked.  It hits all the right notes for the time.  Now I think you’d have a hard time selling something called a “nainsook” to men in America no matter what strategy you went with.

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Vintage Friday: Stout and Reducing Corsets

Posted by Rosepixie on November 20, 2009

These are two pages of catalog ads for “stout” and “reducing” corsets from 1934.

(click on the images for full size)

These pages first caught my eye because they have such great pictures of how the corsets were layered.  I then noticed the tiny ad in the upper right hand corner of the page of “stout” corsets offering a free dieting book with any corset, which I thought was interesting.  I also found the idea of reducing corsets kind of interesting.  How was the corset exactly supposed to help you lose weight?  I mean, what about the design made it specifically a “reducing” corset?  Or was nothing special about it and they just marketed it that way and sent guidelines for weight loss along with it that are actually totally separate from the corset itself?

Either way, it’s an interesting vintage ad!  I particularly love the picture in the corner of the woman watching a couple dance that says “do you sit while others dance?”  Obviously a corset and some weight loss will solve all such dancing problems.  Of course, weight-loss ads of today are just as bad (if not worse).

Posted in Fashion, Vintage | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Vintage Friday: Perfectred Shoes

Posted by Rosepixie on October 16, 2009

This is an ad for children’s shoes from a 1934 catalog by National (a mail-order company).

Shoes 3

The text reads:


Designed on nature’s own lines…


Don’t take chances.  Buy only shoes that will let tiny feet to grow properly…

Buy “Prefectreds”

The Best is none too good for your children.

The shoes are pretty cute and I like the decorative border with cute kids, but I have to wonder what magic design it is that makes these shoes “let tiny feet grow properly” while other shoes do not, and what horrible thing will happen if you wear something else!  I also think it’s interesting how these shoes almost look like they could go on either feet!  That’s generally not a good thing in shoes.  It also might just be the artist rendering that makes them appear that way, though.

Posted in Fashion, Vintage | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Vintage Friday: Modern Corsetry

Posted by Rosepixie on September 25, 2009

This is an ad for corsets from a 1934 catalog by National (a mail-order company).

Corsets 1

(click on the image for full size)

The text reads:

Silhouettes are made… not born

That is the Marvel of Modern Corsetry!

You will have lovely curves youthful bust If You Wear This Foundation!

Gently Molds the Figure to a Sleek… Graceful Smoothness  $1.98

Fits figures with hips 3 to 6 inches larger than bust.

Whether you’re just a “wisp of a thing” or need rigid control, this garment is an excellent foundation for the 1934 fashions.  Concealed boning over the diaphragm gives you a nice flat “tummy”; elastic inserts at the sides mold your hips and thighs… and a special insert at the bottom takes up the strain when you bend.  Rayon-figured Cotton Poplin with Rayon-and-cotton Jersey bust section.  Wonderful for only $1.98

Tearose or Pink.  Sizes: 32 to 44 bust.  Shpg. wt. 1 lb. 2 oz. $1.98

Skinlike Lastex Foundation

You never felt such freedom

You’ll look pounds slimmer

So comfortable you’ll never know it’s on!  $1.98

Not even the tiniest bulge will show after you have put it on!

Fits figures with hips 3 to 6 inches larger than bust.

“Skinlike” takes every little wayward bulge and puts it firmly in place.  “Skinlike” moulds to your figure into a smooth, unbroken line, straight hips, small waist – and mind you, there’s not a bone in it.  Two-way stretch Lastex right to the bust-line “does the trick”, and above that it’s softest mesh and definitely shaped to give you bosom that new uplift look.  For that slim, supple, youthful look, wear “Skinlike.”

Colors: Tearose or Pink.  Sizes: 30 to 38 bust.  Shipping weight, 10 oz.  $1.98




Won’t bulge

Won’t ride up

Lastex foundation

The Smart 1934 Contour… from the uplifted bust to the flowing back line… $1.98

Fits figures with 3 to 6 inches larger than bust.

Rayon-Brocaded Poplin front with the new pointed bust.  Two-way stretch Lastex back to assure smooth hips and thighs and a nice flat seat.  It’s backless for evening frocks.  It’s boneless, yet it gives all the necessary support to the figure, and is absolutely guaranteed not to “ride up.”  Shoulder straps are elastic.

Tearose or Pink.  Sizes: 30 to 38 bust.  Shipping weight, 10 oz. $1.98

This ad just made me laugh with all of it’s assurances that the corsets are super comfortable, but also capable of totally reshaping your body and making you appear magically thinner!  I’m sorry, but corsets don’t work that way.  Not that they can’t be comfortable, because they totally can, but if it’s really a corset, you absolutely know that you’re wearing it.  Anyway, I thought it was interesting.  I have a few more corset ads (and a bunch of ads for other stuff) from the same year that I’ll post in later weeks that are also interesting for other reasons.

Posted in Fashion, Vintage | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »