Tag Archives: The New Yorker

New York In The Late 1940s As Seen By The Saturday Evening Post’s Cover Artists

Five Classic New York City Saturday Evening Post
Magazine Covers

A magazine with great cover art? The New Yorker fits the bill with every issue having an illustration adorning the covers since beginning publication in 1925.

Over the course of the 20th century photography eventually replaced magazine cover art. But if there was a magazine that could give The New Yorker a challenge in the cover art department, it would be The Saturday Evening Post.

If The New Yorker was the quintessential representative for sophisticates, then The Saturday Evening Post represented the rest of America. The covers of The Saturday Evening Post mirrored America, the same way The New Yorker echoed New York.

Arguably no New Yorker cover artist past or present is widely known to most Americans. The Post fostered the career of a legendary artist, Norman Rockwell. From the late teens until the 1960s Rockwell drew an astounding 321 covers for the magazine. Rockwell’s name and work is still recognized by millions of people nearly 40 years after his death.

But what of the hundreds of other talented artists who illustrated magazine covers? There were only a few artists who worked for both the New Yorker and The Saturday Evening Post. Each magazine wanted exclusivity considering the illustration style was at times somewhat similar.

Every now and then, the Post would feature a New York City scene on its cover.

Here are five examples from the 1940s.

John Falter (1910-1982) drew over 120 covers for the Saturday Evening Post. The April 30, 1949 cover shows Central Park and the skyline of the upper east side. The original cover Falter submitted had a lightning bolt and a rainbow simultaneously, which concerned the Post’s editors. They consulted the weather bureau asking if it was possible to have both lightning and a rainbow appear at the same time? The weather bureau replied they had never seen the phenomenon but where weather was concerned “anything could happen.”

The Post’s Art Department decided to remove the lightning and the illustration appeared as seen here.

Constantin Alajalov (1900-1987) was one of those few artists who worked concurrently for The New Yorker and The Saturday Evening Post. The February 12, 1949 cover has  a young lady in a travel office dreaming of getting away from the cold as she’s surrounded with posters advertising sunny locales. Note there is something never seen in New York City anymore: clotheslines connected from building to building. Alajalov originally drew snowflakes falling in the courtyard, but then decided to remove them when he thought: would anyone be drying clothes in a snowstorm? Probably not. So either remove the clotheslines or the snowflakes. Alajalov chose to remove the snowflakes. Continue reading

Book Review – Peter Arno

Peter Arno The New Yorker’s Most Famous Cartoonist Gets His Due

Peter Arno Maslin Book coverDays after Peter Arno’s death on February 22, 1968, President Lyndon Johnson wrote to The New Yorker editor William Shawn about Arno:

We all have our favorite memories of his comic genius. They seem so fresh in mind and heart that I believe he has a firm hold on posterity.

The nation can be glad of that, and grateful to The New Yorker for serving as Mr. Arno’s stage for so many happy years.

A private life is the most difficult to capture in a biography. For someone so famous during his heyday of fame, Peter Arno led a very private life. In his public life Arno hobnobbed with the famous, was once named the best dressed man in America and was the very definition of man about town. Yet Peter Arno never divulged his inner-self and is somewhat forgotten today.

Michael Maslin’s Peter Arno The Mad, Mad World of The New Yorker’s Greatest Cartoonist (Regan Arts) April 2016, takes up the challenge of unveiling Peter Arno’s life . Continue reading

10 Vintage Advertisements From The New Yorker In 1949

10 Advertisements From Winter Issues of The New Yorker In 1949

New Yorker cover December 3 1949We’ve done this before looking at the advertising that appeared in The New Yorker magazine and decided to do it again. These ads appeared in the December 3, 10 & 17, 1949 issues of the magazine.

The most noticeable difference between these vintage ads from only 67 years ago and ads today is that almost every ad was for a service or product made in the United States. The few ads that were not for U.S. products, typically were for luxury products from France, Great Britain or Italy. Today go into any retail store and pick up almost any item and look for where it was made. Nineteen times out of twenty it will be made overseas, usually in China and most likely of inferior quality.

New Yorker 1949 Union Pacific Railroad Streamliner adPost World War II marked the beginning of the end of the luxurious era of train travel. The Union Pacific Railroad offered west coast travel on their Streamliners to and from Chicago. By the 1950s railroads would be permanently overtaken by airlines for long distance travel.
New Yorker 1949 Facts on Dial ad Before the internet if you needed some information about a subject you could look it up yourself or you could call the New York Public Library information desk. The library still offers this service. But there were also paid services for “sophisticated New Yorkers” like this one called Facts on Dial, Inc..
You could call Facts on Dial with almost any question and the researchers would have your answer “within minutes, sometimes even seconds.” In 1950 Facts on Dial was sued by Facts on File for unfair competition and trademark infringement. That was the end of Facts on Dial. If you call the number for Facts on Dial now, MU6-7800, ironically, a law firm answers.
New Yorker 1949 Amelia Earhart luggage adAmelia Earhart Luggage? Do you want your luggage to have the same fate as Amelia Earhart? Why a luggage company would name themselves after a pilot who vanished without a trace would seem bizarre. But the brand was launched in the 1930s by Orenstein Trunk of Newark N.J. when Amelia was the queen of the skies and very much alive.
New Yorker 1949 Dick the Oysterman Restaurant adOyster themed restaurants were plentiful in New York City when the waters along the east coast were chock full of oyster beds.
Richard Ockendon, better known as “Dick, the Oysterman,” had his original basement restaurant on Third Street since the turn-of-the-century. It was famous as a hang-out place for writers and artists. O. Henry based one of his short stories, The Country of Elusion on the bohemian restaurant.
Dick died of pneumonia on January 23, 1916 at the age of 39,  but his name and restaurant lived on, catering to the culinary tastes of Greenwich Village. By 1920 Dick’s had moved to Eighth Street where they remained until they closed their doors in 1952.

Continue reading

150th Anniversary Of The New York City Draft Riots

July 13, 1863 The Civil War Draft Riots Begin + Related Book Recommendations

"The Battle in Second Avenue" from John Shea's 1886 book, The Story of a Great Nation

“The Battle in Second Avenue” from John Shea’s 1886 book, The Story of a Great Nation

If you’ve watched Martin Scorcese’s 2002 film The Gangs of New York, you saw a vivid depiction of what the Civil War Draft Riots may have looked like. In reality the tumult was probably a lot worse than what was portrayed on the screen. It was the most violent civil disorder in 19th century American history.

Protesting the conscription act, mobs of citizens went on a multi-day rampage of killing and looting.  The riots were quelled after four or five days. The estimated number of people killed was 105. The number of injuries was in the hundreds.

In a November 26, 1938 New Yorker story, journalist Meyer Berger wrote about combing through the original blotters at the West Forty-Seventh Street Police Station. Berger came across the station’s last riot related arrest which occurred on July 30, 1863.  Fergus Brennan, 35 was charged with being a leader of the rioters. He was held on $2,000 bail by Justice Kelly.

There are several books which cover the draft riots in detail. Among the best are: July 1863 by Irving Werstein (Julian Messner, 1957); The New York City Draft Riots by Iver Bernstein (Oxford University Press, 1990); The Second Rebellion by James McCague (Dial Press, 1968); The Devil’s Own Work The Civil War Draft Riots of 1863 by Barnet Schecter (Walker & Co., 2006) and The Armies of the Streets: The New York City Draft Riots of 1863 by Adrian Cook (University of Kentucky, 1974).

Part 5 Vintage New York City Books With Great Art Deco Dust Jackets

The Art of The Book #5 – New York City Deco Dust Jackets From The 20′s & 30′s

As we complete our look at New York City books from 80+ years ago, some of these dust jackets incorporate photography into their covers which the other dust jackets we have featured do not. (click on any photo to enlarge)

Art Deco dj Portrait of New YorkPortrait Of New York by Felix Riesenberg & Alexander Alland, New York: Macmillan, 1939 dj illustrator, Alexander Alland

Felix Riesnberg (1879-1939) was a civil engineer and master mariner. He was a polar explorer and wrote numerous books with nautical themes. Portrait of New York ventures among the populace and is an accurate description of the city and its people.

Alexander Alland (1902-1989) was a master photographer and the book shows a small sample of his immense talents. Continue reading

Part 4 Vintage New York City Books With Great Art Deco Dust Jackets

The Art of The Book #4 – New York City Deco Dust Jackets From The 20′s & 30′s

Continuing our look at the those great New York City books from 80 years ago, here are more great dust jacket covers. (click on any photo to enlarge)

Art Deco dj Hacking New YorkHacking New York by Robert Hazard, New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1930 dj illustrator, unknown

The first book of its kind – anecdotes of a New York taxi driver. Even back then the meter could be rigged and Hazard explains how it was done. The dust jacket is gorgeous and unfortunately the artist is unattributed. Continue reading

Part 3 Even More Vintage New York City Books With Great Art Deco Dust Jackets

The Art of The Book #3 – New York City Deco Dust Jackets From The 20′s & 30′s

We continue with our look at vintage books about New York City with great dust jackets. (click here to read part 1 and here to read part 2)

Starting with a look at an all-time classic of deco design, New York Nights. (click on any photo to enlarge)

Art Deco dj New York NightsNew York Nights by Stephen Graham, New York: George H. Doran, 1927, dj illustrator, Kurt Wiese

A native of Scotland, author Stephen Graham (1884-1975) goes on a tour of  jazz age nightclubs, speakeasies and cabarets. Graham provides the grittier side of life in an up to the minute description of prohibition New York neighborhoods, establishments and people.

Kurt Wiese (1887-1974) illustrated over 300 books and later became an award-winning children’s book author. Besides the knockout jacket cover, Wiese drew all the illustrations contained in the book. This was the first American book he worked on. Continue reading

Part 1 Vintage New York City Books With Great Art Deco Dust Jackets

The Art of The Book #1 – New York City Deco Dust Jackets From The 20’s & 30’s

From the 1920’s until the 1940’s, book publishers put out some phenomenal books about New York. They also hired talented artists to design the book’s dust jackets.

The eye-catching art deco graphics were meant to attract potential buyers. Unfortunately, most people who purchased books 80 years ago would discard the dust jacket once they brought the book home with them.

Because of that, many of these books from that time are very scarce in their original dust jacket.

This is the first part of a five part series looking at the dust jackets of books about New York City, the artists that created the work and the authors.

Below are some fine examples of New York City books from the golden era of publishing.

(click on any photo to enlarge)

Art Deco dj New York By QuexNew York by Quex.  New York: David McKay, 1928, dj illustrator, Dixon (possibly Arthur A. Dixon)

Quex was the pseudonym of reporter George H.F. Nichols (1881-1933) of The Evening News of London. Nichols was at the time of his death one of the highest paid reporters in the world. Nichols was the originator of articles written in the form of “the diary of the man about town.” Quex’s observations about about New York are well worth reading.

The dust jacket is classic New York, but I am unsure about the attribution to Arthur Dixon, so we will leave biographical information out until someone can provide a conclusive identification on the artist.

Continue reading

30 Vintage Advertisements From The New Yorker Part 2

Ads From the November 3, 1951 New Yorker, continued

We continue our look at some of the advertisements from this issue of The New Yorker.  To put the prices of goods and services in perspective: in 1951, a first class postage stamp cost three cents; a loaf of bread cost sixteen cents; the minimum wage was seventy five cents per hour and the average salary was $4,200 per year.

For The Men

Of course The New Yorker appealed to the well heeled man as well as the elegantly outfitted woman. (click on any ad to enlarge)

Freeman Shoes –  Men’s shoes have not changed much in sixty years. If the Freeman Shoe is the footwear of the successful man, what is the footwear of the man who fails? Continue reading

30 Vintage Advertisements From The New Yorker Part 1

Ads From The November 3, 1951 New Yorker Magazine

I really enjoy looking at old magazines. Those old issues of Life, Look, Collier’s, The Saturday Evening Post and especially The New Yorker uniquely capture the 1920’s-1960’s.

I like the articles, the cartoons and especially the ads.  You read the copy, look at the typography and study the images.  The salesmanship is very direct. Some ads are wordy and try and convince you of the merits of the product. Others let the product stand on its own with few or no words.

I picked a random issue of The New Yorker Magazine from over 60 years ago to look over and picked 30 ads that were indicative of the time.  There are over 100 advertisements in this issue: some are very small, some are full page, some black and white others are in color.

Then, probably more than now, The New Yorker was read by and appealed to the upper crust of society and the ads definitely reflect that.

Here are the first fifteen ads. Click on any image to enlarge.

They Liked To Drink

Those post-war years meant if you were going out, coming home or even at the office you should have an alcoholic drink.

Booth’s House Of Lords Finest Distilled Dry Gin – Probably better than Booth’s House of Commons Gin Continue reading