Monday, June 21, 2021

Two Old Magazines

I'll show my age: for me to consider a magazine old, it has to be pre-World War II. (Life magazines from the 1960s are not old, heaven forbid, since I remember when those were published.)

The two I found down in the basement of Midway Books in Saint Paul the other day are from 1908 and 1927. The older one was in a plastic sleeve, so I only saw the cover and back cover. It's a title I've never heard of before:


I gather it was a literary magazine that was put out by a book publisher, though there's not much information online about it.

I thought the back cover ad was particularly interesting from a design standpoint. The reversed lettering really pops, and the use of photography and an engaging character (who's also used on the product box), meeting the viewer's gaze, seems ahead of its time, compared to what I know of ad designs from that period.

The second magazine, 21 years more recent but in many ways more dated looking, was for gardeners:

Like the Appleton's magazine, it has a two-color cover and a black-only inside. There were a lot of interesting parts, but the two things I photographed were ads. 

First this one for a pesticide called Insectilizer:

Use nicotine to poison insects! Put it in the soil and the fumes will kill them all, willy nilly! And then there are some spurious claims about it brightening the color of flowers and cutting the need to water in half. 

Second was this combination of small space ads:

The line art cuts are charming, so those are what got my attention first, but then there was what was being advertised. 

Lead-clad fencing? Pure and everlasting! Where do I sign up?!

And a landscape architecture self-study course so you can work in a dignified and exclusive career that's easy to master, but has little competition? Oh, to be an under-qualified white man back in the day. (Of course, the ad's message may not have been true and the American Landscape School just wanted money from hapless fools who thought they could earn a living that way.) And it's important to remember that even if it was true when the ad ran, we should note that this ad appeared not long before the Great Depression began, so it's doubtful it remained true for long. Oh, one final note: adjusted for inflation, that salary range is $75,000–150,000 a year.

I didn't buy either magazine, since I'm not acquiring things and that's what cameras are for. I did pick up two late-1960s Life magazines, though, because I wanted to read some of the articles as primary sources covering what was happening then and echoes in the present day. So they may come up in a future post. 

1 comment:

Michael Leddy said...

That image of man with shaving cream (clean-shaven in 1908!) is pretty startling. “12 Bladed Safety Razor” made me think of the old Onion column about making a five-bladed razor, once just a joke, now (I had to check) a reality.