Tag Archives: 1920s

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Smart Set, Stories from Life – December 1927

Yesterday we looked at The Literary Digest from 1911 in all its affluent glory. Today we look at Smart Set Magazine from the 20s. The two audiences couldn’t possibly more different. Smart Set is just the sort of magazine that one of our 20s Flappers would sit down to read between flaps. Most of the content is vacuous romance drivel and the ads seem to focus fairly firm on makeup.

Usually I don’t bother with the covers since they’re not really advertising but this one struck me very firmly about the eyeballs. She makes quite a fitting icon for the times.

From Classic Ads – Misc

The majority of ads were for makeup and various accessories related to it. On the back of the front cover we find Norida powder cases. Who would have thought such a thing existed and deserved such a prominent spot in the zine?

From Classic Ads – Misc

There are a few familiar names. Irene Rich (yes, THAT Irene Rich) uses Maybelline. Never heard of that Maybelline stuff but Irene Rich… WOW!

From Classic Ads – Misc

Tangee Beauty Aids offered a wide range of women’s make-up goop stuff. You can tell how attuned I am to this particular line of marketing.

From Classic Ads – Misc

And Kissproof seems fairly suggestive of potential not-really-related-to-makeup activities though the woman in the picture looks like she might just be wielding a knife.

From Classic Ads – Misc

When our flapper friends weren’t making themselves up for a night out, they were having a smoke behind the barn. They’re better because they’re toasted! We haven’t yet gotten to the Lucky Strike Means Fine Tobacco era.

From Classic Ads – Misc

I do notice too that retailers are practically jumping out of their skins to hand out credit to customers. Send only $1! Take a year to pay whether you want fine jewelry…

From Classic Ads – Misc

…or a Buxkin Velour Mandell Fur coat!

From Classic Ads – Clothing

Lastly, we know that any Flapper worth her salt can dance up a small storm. Since you can’t dance without music, we bring you the Mello-Phonic Console Phonograph. You’ll have to draw lots though to see who gets stuck with the job of winding it up.

From Classic Ads – Music Equipment

If you prefer your grinding without the winding, check out the All-Electric Radio. This beasty would cost you the equivalent of $700 back in the day.

From Classic Ads – Music Equipment

Oh, but wait. I found this last little advert just hanging tenaciously on by a thread. Even flappers, it seems, suffered at times from irregularity. Luckily though there’s Feen-a-Mint.

From Classic Ads – Food And Drink

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1965 RCA Color Television – Jack Benny and Johnny Carson

Today’s advert isn’t so much about the product as it is the people selling it. As an aficionado of all things archaic, for me Benny was the icon of an a full half-century of entertainment. While never the most politically correct nor a friend to those who appreciated the violin, Benny was telling the same jokes you laugh at today back in the 1920s. To me Carson was always a much dimmer light in the world of entertainment but he’s OK here too.

1965 RCA Color Televisions - Jack Benny, Johnny Carson

1965 RCA Color Televisions - Jack Benny, Johnny Carson

Switching gears a bit, I’d like some feedback and opinions here. There seems to be a fair amount of interest in this blog and for that I thank you. You’re all appreciated and welcomed. I would like to hear your thoughts on the general selection for ads. Anything you want more of or less of? More content and analysis or less blather? Prefer a certain genre of products? I’ve been withholding dozens of automotive ads on the principal that it’s fairly redundant and dull. Is it? Anyway, all thoughts appreciated. Help me steer this thing!


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1920s Kodak 2c Jr

As much as I love modern photography equipment in all its technological greatness, I still think it would be rather cool to carry about a camera with a bellows.

1920s Kodak 2c Jr

1920s Kodak 2c Jr

This sucker would have run you between $12 and $19. That’s $129 if you account for inflation which isn’t a bad deal.


Filed under photography

1920 Victrola – His Master’s Voice

For decades and decades that poor dog stuck his little snout into the bell of that Victrola. I’m willing to say that he’s probably stone deaf after all that noise at such close range.

1920 Victrola

1920 Victrola

Perusing these ads, Caruso is mentioned again and again. I wonder how many people in 2012 know who he was? Such is the fleeting light of fame. 90 years to anonymity.


Filed under Entertainment, music equipment, record players

George Washington’s Instant Coffee 1920

First of all, it’s not THAT George Washington. This George Washington was a Belgian inventor holding patents for a few dozen products including instant coffee. His company was created in 1910 and the brand lasted until 1961 when it was discontinued.

1920 George Washington Coffee

1920 George Washington Coffee

Ad Text:

Made in the cup at the table
The Easier kind of Coffee – No Coffee Pot Needed
G. Washington’s coffee dissolves instantly in hot or cold water. Absolutely pure, delicious coffee always. Each cup to order.

All the preparing scientifically and perfectly done by Mr. Washington’s refining process – which eliminates the woody fibre, chaff and waste.

Send 10c for a Special Trial Size. Recipe Booklet Free.

Admittedly, the need to state that there’s no woody fibre or waste in the coffee gets my attention. Food and beverage quality fail 90 years ago.

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Filed under Coffee, Drinks, Food and Drink