Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Nostalgia: 1930s House & Garden Magazines

As a general rule, I don't (and won't) talk about my day job. It's not important, but my livelihood is, so I keep my lips sealed. To introduce this post, all you really need to know is that through some benevolence on the part of a learned man, I had the great fortune of accessing a few editions of the venerable House & Garden magazine from various months in the 1930s. Amazing? Why yes, it was!

House & Garden was launched in 1901 by Conde Nast Publications and focused on interior design, architecture, gardening and entertaining. A common theme in the issues I was able to read was also advertising for the upper class, including boarding schools for children, purebred dog breeders nationwide, and luxury cruises and train rides nationally and internationally. The content was varied, the text luminous and colorful, and the layout vibrant and accessible, especially for the time period. I took quite a few pictures (the best I could) and I've uploaded them to my House & Garden Flickr Album. The rest I'm featuring here, some with special commentary as I was highly amused at certain points.

The covers of each issue ran the gamut from bland to BOLD. Check out that ridiculous gray poodle leaning on the fabulous mustard wingback chair and the neat photograph of the Christmas scene through the "eyes" of a glass ornament!

Lucky Strike advertisements on the back cover were a common theme. I especially love "Helga the Skiier - She'll stare you down and steal your hot toddy!" and the cute curvy pin-up in the darling green summer dress.

Why would this woman care about saving money? She's wearing the furriest-fur-collared coat I've ever seen!

Sorry, I had to...this is queering domesticity, after all!

A splendid Dobermann? I've heard them called a lot of things, and splendid was never one of them. Also, a breeder in Herndon, Virginia! That's not too far from where I grew up.

Finally, everything was canned. It was obviously the age of convenience, so I understand why that was important. But seriously, canned bread-like desserts? Heinz brand products also dominated the magazine, right after Campbell's and weird pre-Popeye style ads for Dole Pineapple Juice.

I always find it fascinating to read and look at examples of daily life from way back when. This magazine was obviously wasn't at all close to what my grandparents were dealing with at the time, but nevertheless, I really enjoyed the view into domesticity and I especially enjoyed giggling at all the condescending (to women) absurdity. If only a garbage disposal could make my life easier.

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