It was a little difficult for my beloved to get her head around the fact that I wanted to collect old magazines. Not just any old magazines mind you, but periodicals of a certain genre, and age.
I imagine that some folks, who might be affected by the collecting gene, collect old comic books, or sports memorabilia, possibly because they hadn’t the money to indulge in their passion as a kid. I’m afraid my interest has much less appeal than comic books, or ”funny books” as we called them when I was in grade school. I loved comic books, but never collected them, to my sorrow.
And, I’ve always enjoyed magazines such as “Popular Mechanics”, “Popular Science” and a now defunct favorite: “Mechanix Illustrated”.
You may be familiar with the first two titles, for they are still published; however, not in the same format as many years ago. The issues I have accumulated are from the 1930’s to the 1950’s. My sons enjoy thumbing through the old magazines, and checking out the large advertising sections, to see what was the latest and greatest gadgets of the times.
Mechanix Illustrated was my favorite for several reasons; first, their illustrations were the best, and, they had their curmudgeonly, funny, automobile evaluator, Tom McCahill. Tom was of considerable size, and when pictured next to a small car, the vehicle would seem downright petite in comparison.
He had a rather uncensored way of writing, and aside from an occasional “damn” or “hell”, his stuff was informative, and helpful—for the potential 12 year old car buyer. He loved metaphors, and they were sprinkled liberally through his articles.
For instance, if Tom wasn’t too impressed with a car’s acceleration, he might include something like: “This boat accelerated like a circus fat lady, dragging an anchor.” On the other hand, if he liked the performance, he may have said: “This little sparkler has more “scat” than a truckload of gazelles.” In my youth, long before I understood the connection between “gazelle” and “scat’, I thought “Uncle Tom” was hilarious. As funny as a truckload of wooden legs.
Aside from the ads and the interviews, the magazines always had a few projects for their readers; everything from a bandsaw made mostly of plywood, (“You Can Build This Bandsaw For $10.00”) to plans for model airplanes and boats.
Photography was a hot subject too, and in most issues, a section was devoted to photo techniques, or developing and enlarging your photos in your home darkroom. Didn’t every home have one? My brother and I did; set up in part of our closet. Incidentally, our clothes took up very little room.
Several Christmas seasons ago, while still hunkered down in Texas, I received a rather heavy carton from one of my sons. It was about the size of box that a kitchen toaster would be packed in. A convenient size, since there was a label on the outside stating: “Do Not Open Until Christmas” and another label stating: “Keep Refrigerated Until Opened”. I cleared a spot in the fridge. Guess I needn’t tell you that the box contained about 10 pounds of slightly stale magazines. A perfect gift to my way of thinking.
My wife has yet to come to terms with my collection. “When are you going to get rid of these stinky magazines?” I’ve heard that more than once. (Incidentally, they do have a rather musty smell, as if they’d been kept in someone’s barn, or basement too long.)
My reply is: “Honey, they’ll bring in a lot of money at my estate sale.”
This week’s gadget is an old-timer, that may have been used in a real estate office in the early 1900’s.
Identify it, and win a 1950′s copy of one of my magazine collection.
Joann Treml was the winner of the vintage magazine! The gadget is a pencil sharpener.
Another vintage magazine for the correct guess.
Roguespeare gave the correct answer for identifying the second gadget as a “surveyor’s compass”, he was rated AAA, but since he didn’t give the approximate age, I’m lowering his rating to AA+. Sorry