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charmin bath tissue vintage advertisement

Charmin circa 1952: A Flowery Sales Pitch

While plowing though some forgotten boxes of ephemera (that’s another story for another day) I came across this vintage newspaper advertisement.

Before Mr. Whipple there was this woman: Ms. Particular Chin-touching Centerpiece-Loving Bareshoulders, seen here with pageant “pretty feet,” pondering her bright flower-filled home as well as her hospital-pure potty paper. Hope Mr. Particular isn’t late for dinner again tonight! (Five years after this ad appeared, Charmin was acquired by Procter & Gamble.)

This product was always intended to attract women and their pin money. I learned here that the original Wisconsin-born Charmin was “described as ‘charming’ by an employee, and the Charmin brand name was born.” The flower-compatible product was “designed to look like feminine fashions of the day. Packaging was light blue and featured the silhouette of a woman’s head from a cameo pin, which became known as the “Charmin Lady.”

charmin bath tissue vintage advertisement

Our Mad Future Foretold in 1971

It’s giddy fun to look at vintage ephemera that predicts the future, usually because the predictions turn out to be so charmingly wrong. This 1971 item from Mad Magazine, though, turns out to be alarmingly right…except for the ultra-convenient home delivery! Four decades ago, a “Scene We’d Hate to See.” Today, a Scene We Wait to See. Mad, for sure!

1971 MAD MAGAZINE Spoof Advertisement Back Page Clean Air Water Milk

From the awesome Flickr photostream of Christian Montone

Old postcard of biloxi, mississippi

The End of Typical in Biloxi, Mississippi

I found this vintage postcard buried in a shoebox at my local junk bazaar last week; it’s titled “A Typical View of the Shrimp and Oyster Industry, Biloxi, Mississippi.” As the oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill washes onto the beaches of this Mississippi resort town for the first time, we’re all waxing nostalgic for the good old typical days. (This is also posted on my Flickr page, here.)

Old postcard of biloxi, mississippi

artificial ice vintage postcard

Fake Ice: Now That’s Cool!

artificial ice vintage postcard

This charming little postcard from cardcow.com made me smile, especially the sight of the gaggle of children so excited to see the arrival of their “Pure Artificial Ice.”

Silly people, don’t you know there’s no such thing as fake ice? What? There is?! While it wasn’t delivered by the Standard Fuel and Ice Company, synthetic ice has actually around since the 1960s as a real ice alternative for skating. Unlike genuine ice, the fake stuff doesn’t require cold weather or refrigeration equipment. It requires… just one word… plastics!

The first application of plastic ice substitute for ice skating was in the 1960s using materials developed by DuPont in the early 1950s. Today, the technology is still in use from big rinks down to the garages of the hockey-obsessed.

synthetic ice

SuperGlide Plastic Ice via globalsyntheticice.com

The Devil Made Them Do It!

This could explain the presence of certain contaminants in our water! You can muster your own evil wit to write a wicked caption or ID these frolicking fiends on this 1906 antique postcard. (If you’re tempted, add them in the comments!)

I wonder if “Miss Harris” of “Primley Hill” was properly shocked when she received it; it’s now available to collectors of strange ephemera from cardcow.com for a smidge under twenty bucks (despite the visible $2 price penciled in on the back!)

Inventors Imagine a Water-Grabbing Fog Farm

This week a study revealed that California’s coastal fog has decreased significantly over the past 100 years, potentially endangering the state’s treasured coastal redwood trees.

And that’s not all! It potentially endangers these old and passed-over ideas, too, as detailed in a June, 1931 Inventions feature in Modern Mechanix. (Fog Drip May Hold Key to Drought Relief”)

Especially curious is this drawing which illustrates a novel idea:

Inventors in California once proposed to set up a tall screen of wire netting to catch fog near the coast and to store the water in reservoirs, from which it could be piped to adjacent farmlands. This beautiful plan was knocked in the head by a cold-blooded meteorologist, Dr. W. J. Humphreys, of the Weather Bureau. Humphreys showed that a screen 250 feet high—the cost of which would doubtless be prohibitive—would provide irrigation water for a strip of land only about half a mile wide back of it. However, the scheme may still have possibilities, and inventors are continuing their investigations of the odd phenomena in various parts of the world. Their findings have proved interesting

Following are the article’s first two pages, but you can read the entire thrilling feature here!

Groovy! Mid-Century Modern Water Storage

If Mike Brady had designed water towers or water tanks, I imagine they’d have looked like this!

These are pages from a 1965 promotional book from the Committee of Steel Plate Producers, American Iron and Steel Institute, obviously to introduce industrial designers and engineers to the coolness and versatility of steel plate for water storage products. (This copy was missing the middle-section pages.)

We love the 60s-era illustrations depicting that happy time when balloon-festooned children always strolled hand-in-hand with their parents. Below is a small sampling; the entire booklet can be seen on my Flickr site by clicking any of the pictures below.

Many thanks to Angela Blann for saving this book from the trash bin!

10 More Weird Water Items for Sale on Ebay

The Thirsty in Suburbia Super Water Flea returns! Following are 10 more hand-picked examples of rare, unusual and weird water-related merch just waiting for your winning bid. (The Sept. 2009 edition is here.)

1. You always knew water tended to be political so how about this one that’s “the right drink for the conservative taste”? This “Goldwater” can was made during  the 1960s Barry Goldwater U.S. presidential campaign. The seller notes, “the can has some rust on it.” Currently, one bidder with $2.00 on the board.

2. This represents “the greatest sensational mystery ever attempted in this or any other age.” Just try finding that someplace else for under twenty bucks. The Houdini In the Water-Filled Torture Cell poster is available at the Buy-It-Now price of $16.98.

3. With a little lovin’ care, this Halsey Taylor vintage water fountain could be the centerpiece of your properly sustainable mid-century modern hipster hangout. It is sold “As Is” and there are no returns! You can Buy it Now for just $44.98, but don’t overlook the $79.98 shipping charges. But who can put a price on Cool, really?

4. Get rich quick! Did you know making money with bottled water is as easy as filling in the blanks? The description for the Bottled Water Company Business Plant bundle notes “Stop struggling to write your business plan by using the professionally prewritten sample Bottled Water Company business plan included in the Bottled Water Company Business Plan Bundle…” Just $39.95 with a “30 day money-back guarantee.”

5. As crazy as things are getting out in the Wild Water West, who knows, this could be worth something someday!

This is a common stock certificate from the Southern California Water Company issued August 12, 1952 to one “Stirling, Morris and Bousman.” Even if it is worthless, the nice engraving of pipes and tanks will surely console the buyer. Maybe you? It’s a low risk at Just $8.29 and impulse shoppers, it’s “Buy It Now!”

6. While this is a classic gag, you DO need special supplies, and here they are! The New colored Tap Water Prank Gag Practical Joke is yours for 99 cents and $1.95 shipping. A cheap thrill! Just “insert one of four colored tablets into your faucet stem and watch as the water gets UGLY. Comes with 3 colored tablets and spring.” When April 1st rolls around you’re going to wish you’d jumped on this one, so plan ahead now!

7. Speaking of planning ahead, here’s your Halloween ace in the hole! Check out the HOT price ($258) on this Water Droplet costume. (Last Halloween, we priced a similar one for $1,279 and it didn’t even have awesome googly eyes like this one does! The seller notes that this giant water drop has a POLYFOAM head, which is important because,

“We use the advanced machine to manufacture POLYFOAM head, it is only one piece, it is stronger and enough hard to avoid to break when it meet strike accidentally, User head can be protected very well, but paperboard or foam head was produced by different  paperboard or foam pieces, they was usually agglutinated by the bad gluewater, this kind of head is not very firm, and very easily to turn into fragment, At the same time, the gluewater do harm to the User, It makes the User headache or feel unhappy.”

8. Get back to nature and start livin’ off the land with this old timey Rare Crank Water Pump, SBP St. Louis. The seller says it is in “very good condition, the crank turns freely & turns a chain with small tin cups to lift water up.” So if you’re dreaming of getting off the water grid, this could help you git yer groundwater on…err, up. The starting bid is $699 but the shipping is “free.”

9. Another item for those suffering an unusual obsession with vintage pumps. As if the internet’s not bad enough, this DVD covers Myers Vintage Water Pumps Catalogs from 1905 -1940. F.E. Myers Pumps was established in 1870 and the Myers’ brothers developed the first double acting hand pump. The DVD reproduces 7 vintage catalogs, featuring a huge treasury of information and illustrations for all types of water pumps, windmills, etc for home, farm and commercial use.

10. This is a new copy of a vintage Water Hazard golf sign. It measures 6″ x 12″ and it all-weather metal. Of course you don’t have to use this for something golf-related. Use your imagination, you can come up with something inventive, can’t you? It is listed with a starting bid of $4.99 with $4.95 for shipping.

Retro Water Advertising Film Fest Part 2

Part Two: And now, a word from our water sponsors from decades past! We’ve been interrupted by advertising for drinking water for at least a half a century. Following, more of of “the way we were.”

Brita Filter Ad from 1989 using the then-relevant “Funny British Guy” marketing tactic.

1986 Soviet dance party featuring Michael Jackson’s “Killer” and Varska Mineral Water.

Combine the 1986 coolness of Flashdance and Pumping Iron, then add Evian water.

“Nothing else will do” but Perrier in this jazzy, stylish-in-’87 animated spot.

Hey, Culligan Man, It’s 1984 and “the future is calling for you!” Little did we know!