vintage photo of pulp magazine news stand in early 1900s

Vintage Pulp Fiction Magazine Ads

A curated visual archive of print advertisements from 1894–1977

Lost Books
31 min readMar 5, 2022

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Lost Books has spent the past several weeks scouring through old collections of pulp fiction magazines. There are several sizeable archives of these classic era publications, but the one we’ve been exploring is the Luminist archive.

We didn’t find any comprehensive visual archive focused on ads from these vintage magazines, so we created one ourselves for fun. Not sure if it is “comprehensive” but we hope that it’s at least a decent start, and will inspire others to catalogue old advertisements and printed publications from other eras. We present our collection of pulp fiction magazine ads here for educational and historical purposes.

Methodology

There is a lot to say here, but we will attempt to keep our remarks fairly brief, in the interest of letting these incredible images speak for themselves.

We used a Firefox plugin called DownThemAll to download PDFs from Luminist in the main pulp page, and on the sci-fi specialty page as well. This totaled a little over 2,300 documents.

We then hopped around in various decades and titles, and pulled out screenshots of examples of ad types which we saw repeating again and again, and began grouping those into loose categories.

We didn’t review every document in the set, because there were just too many, and over time they become very repetitive, so we selected for a broad range of genres, and decades, beginning with around 1894 (the earliest we found), and ending arbitrarily in 1977. The majority of the ads come from before 1955, as the Golden Age of pulps ended somewhere before then.

It occurred to us somewhere along the way, that creating a curated collection like this ultimately is a data science project. While we’re not data scientists, we hope to inspire others with more skills in these areas to undertake similar broad spectrum surveys of old and archival materials in order to bring to light the fascinating information locked and forgotten about in them. We did not use an overly scientific method ourselves, so much as an artistic eye. We included what leapt out at us. We attempted to not add in too many variations of the same theme, unless they were interesting somehow in themselves. As a result, some categories are only lightly fleshed out, and some are much more extensive.

Our screenshots attempt to capture legible examples wherever possible. They are often cropped, sincedue to size constraints on our monitor we often had to compromise between legibility and putting forward the best focal point to convey the sense of the ad. You can usually click on an included image on Medium to enlarge it, if text appears too small to read. In some cases we included full pages for context, or (rarely) groups of ads near one another to show placement on a page.

We chose not to include the magazine titles or publishers these came from, though we recognize that a more careful and methodical approach would have been maybe more satisfying in the end. That would have taken a lot longer though, so we chose to optimize for efficiency and creating an interesting, thought-provoking collection rapidly. Years ads came from are usually included as captions underneath each image, though sometimes these got clipped due to autosaves on Medium. Ads are presented in thematic groups without regard to chronology. Some groups have many members, and some only a few. The vast majority are American ads (as were the vast majority of pulps themselves), with a handful from British sources.

Curation notes

First and foremost, pulp fiction magazines are an incredible historical reference. After reviewing hundreds of these manually, we have completely re-framed our understanding of the time periods when they were published and consumed by readers. We would even go so far as to say it re-wired our brains in a positive way, to manually analyze a large data set from another time period like this, and for purely and educational creative reasons. We found the process of looking through them a welcome antidote to too much time spent in the salt mines of today’s social media.

These ads reflect the hopes, fears, and beliefs of Americans (some real, some perhaps invented by advertisers) as their lives were shifted into ever-increasing levels of industrialization and commercialization. What grips us the most about these ads is seeing that it is only a little over a hundred years ago— perhaps three or four generations — that most of modern American society as we know it was formed. In some cases, more like the last seventy years. While a great deal has indeed changed, at the same time, all the basic forms are recognizable that we see writ large on social media.

Furthermore, with only such a brief span of time having wrought such profound change, it is evident that we live still on but a fragile pinnacle of so-called cultural and technological sophistication. One which perhaps might be easily washed away by catastrophe, or even mere forgetfulness of where we have come from, and how we got here.

Many of the ads you see included below are bizarre or even offensive by today’s standards. All the more reason to try to understand the context of the times, and learn a better way forward. Many contain questionable medical advice (along with what feels like arcane, out of date terminology) that shows we as a culture have struggled with the same problems of misinformation, etc. that we still struggle with on today’s internet.

Where possible, we will leave specific notes about related information which we uncovered in the course of our research. But, by and large, will let the voices contained in this collection speak for themselves.

One final bit of food for thought, given that in some of the decades covered that radio and television were not yet widely available, we wonder whether an American public which regularly read long mostly text-based magazines may not have been rather more literate than today’s generation that just scrolls social media feeds, clicks a heart under a meme, and occasionally skims an article or two (something which we do too, of course). But that might just be us being grumpy!

Advertising Rates (Reference)

Included below is one of the very few examples we found of advertising rates for a pulp fiction magazine, from 1933. The ad collection itself begins immediately following.

From 10 Story Book, 1933 (A “girlie” pulp)

Weight Loss, Reducing Garments

vintage weight loss ad
1914
vintage weight loss ad
1931
vintage reducing garments ad
1924
vintage reducing garments ad men’s fashion
1957

Quit Drinking, Quit Smoking

Some ads in this category seem to advocate women secretly putting substances into the alcoholic beverages of their husbands which would cause them to taste unpalatable. Pretty amazing.

vintage addiction cure ad
1901
vintage stop drinking ad
1944
vintage stop smoking ad
1947
vintage quit smoking ad
1951
vintage sobriety ad
vintage stop drinking ad alcoholism
1959
vintage quit drinking ad
1933

Female Enhancements

Sometimes the language of these ads requires a modern reader to read between the lines. Many in this category reference “unnatural delays” experienced by women, which appear to reference menstruation (one of the drugs is called “Menstrua”). It’s not entirely clear whether products referenced in those ads were understood to be abortifacients by the women who purchased them (one of them — not included here by accident — references pennyroyal, for example), or were merely thought to be emmenogogues (i.e., stimulating menstruation). It is social context of the time that would be helpful to understand.

vintage bust enhancement ad
vintage women’s vitamin ad
1959
vintage delayed menstruation ad
1934
vintage delayed menstruation ad
1935
vintage delayed menstruation ad
1937
vintage female hygiene ad
1911
vintage bust cream ad
1948
vintage girdle ad
1959
vintage lanacane ad
1959

Male Enhancements

Some euphemisms in this section refer to “hygienic” or “sanitary” products for men, which we suppose must have been condoms, though others appear to reference topical treatments, presumably to help prevent sexually-transmitted diseases (one of them mentions “Navy prophylactics”).

In this category, as well as the more overtly sexual ads in a subsequent group, we found that the most overt ads tended to appear in the more over-the-top so-called “girlie pulps.” Many of the pulps in that category include photos and/or drawings of nude or scantily clad women.

Prostate and gland health (especially for men over 40) appears to have been a major concern for decades, along with “vim,” “vigor,” and “vitality” (which we explore a bit more in another category later). Look for the ads pitching home prostate massagers.

vintage mustache ad
1938
vintage voice training ad
1953
vintage male stamina ad
1935
vintage male stamina ad
1935
vintage prophylactic ad
1934
vintage condom ad
1933
vintage depillatory ad
1931
vintage prostate treatment ad
1934
vintage male vitality ad
1933
vintage male stamina ad
1937
vintage prostate massager ad
1936
vintage prostate massager ad
1948
vintage condom ad
1936
vintage hormone ad testosterone
1948

Muscles, Vigor, Nerves, Massage

Muscle ads are a staple of these magazines, featuring fairly well known still today celebrity body-builders and exercise advocates like Charles Atlas, and some other figures who are not so well — known today, like Lionel Strongfort.

Look for the not exactly overt vibrator ads hidden in this category.

vintage bodybuilding ad
1939
vintage exercise ad
1939
vintage gland stimulant ad
1934
vintage nerve treatment ad
1931
vintage magnet treatment ad
1913
vintage martial arts ad
1953
vintage bodybuilding ad
vintage bodybuilding ad
1924
vintage nerve drug ad
1952
vintage bodybuilding ad
vintage vibrator ad
1914
vintage vibrator ad
1952

Hair Growth, Removal, Coloring

Listerine as a potential treatment for dandruff is our biggest revelation here…

vintage hair tonic ad
1951
vintage hair growth ad
1909
vintage hair coloring ad
1943
vintage hair growth ad
1926
vintage dandruff treatment ad
1941
vintage dandruff treatment ad
1937
vintage hair cream ad
1929
vintage hair growth ad
1924
vintage depillatory ad
1907
vintage dandruff ad
1951

Ruptures

We puzzled for some time over what “rupture” means, and settled on abdominal hernia as being the most common likely meaning (though other types appear to be mixed in, based on included diagrams). Rupture ads are oddly one of the most prevalent groups over decades, which is why they’re broken out into their own category here.

vintage rupture ad
1952
vintage rupture ad
1914
vintage rupture ad
1941
1940

Medical Issues, Assorted

So many interesting items in this category! One of the things that we noted here were throwback terms and concepts related to “nerves,” liver, kidneys, etc. that we hardly use anymore in modern parlance. Also using tar to cure a cough is new to us, along with some others. Makes us wonder which of our contemporary terms and concepts will likewise seem ridiculous and out of date in a few decades…

vintage nervine ad
1951
vintage cough medicine ad
1950
vintage gum ad
1932
vintage pimple ad
1936
1940

Trench mouth is so gross sounding that we had to look it up!

vintage ad nerve remedy
1911
vintage ad artificial limbs
1916
vintage ad asthma
1935
vintage ad blood diseases
1934
vintage ad listerine toothpaste
1938
vintage ad aspirin
1920
vintage ad laxative
1920
vintage ad morphine
1922
vintage ad cancer treatment
1899
vintage ad rectal trouble
1952
vintage ad laxative
1945
vintage ad colonic cleanser
1930
vintage ad light treatment
1922

Wow, Wikipedia claims that violet rays were invented by Nikola Tesla in their most basic form, and were used in what’s called electrotherapy. The story behind violet ray devices in general appears to be pretty fascinating. From a website called KookScience:

“Most manufacturers of violet ray instruments in the early twentieth century made grandiose claims regarding the medical applications of their devices, presenting them as positive cure-alls for all manner of physical ailments. Consequently, in the United States, such devices became the object of routine seizures by the Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) for misleading claims under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFD&C) of 1938, and violet ray instruments gradually ceased to be manufactured in the country over the following decades.”

Here are more ads for the Vi-Rex Violet Ray, depicted above.

vintage ad children illness
1907
vintage ad nose shaping
1936
vintage ad pandiculator
1919
vintage ad pin worms
1950
vintage ad artificial limbs
1914
vintage ad infertility
1942
vintage ad artificial eyes
1954
vintage ad cosmetic surgery nose shaping
1922
vintage ad pimples
1945
vintage ad liver treatment bile
1935
vintage ad garlic parsley high blood pressure
1938
vintage ad constipation
1929
vintage ad constipation
1923
vintage ad piles treatment
1938

Sales Agents Wanted

One of the most fascinating categories is what we call “sales agents wanted.” We feel it clearly depicts the steady march of industrialization and commercialization into every region of the United States, by tapping local area men (and women) as “agents” of the new order of salesmen…

Special highlights: tear gas fountain pens. Here’s a video of one being demoed. Handy!

vintage ad get rich quick
1931
vintage ad shirt business
1932
vintage ad fluorescent business
1942
vintage ad teargas pen
1934
vintage ad teargas pen
1934
vintage ad popcorn
1911
vintage ad potato chip
1935
vintage ad car alarm voice
1930
vintage ad typewriter sales
1911
vintage ad get rich quick
1913
vintage ad cigar lighter
1931
vintage ad iron
1913
vintage ad water heater
1940
vintage ad coffee business
1939
vintage ad can opener business
1929
vintage ad hamster business
1949
vintage ad hot water device
1931
vintage ad hat business
1929
vintage ad railroad bicycle device
1904
vintage ad tire puncture fluid
1927
vintage ad plastics business
1952
vintage ad shoe store business
1952

Typewriters

There a lot more types of typewriter ads in this time period than are really represented here. They just didn’t jump out at us as much as some of the other categories!

vintage ad typewriter underwood
1931
vintage ad typewriter
1942

Jewelry

vintage ad diamonds
1921
vintage ad free wedding ring
1941
vintage ad veterans ring
1947
vintage ad jewelry
1952

Electrical, Radio, Telegraphy & Television Technician

Ads in this category are one of the most common of all across many decades, as the nation ramped up technologically to keep apace with industrialization.

vintage ad radio tech
1952
1943
vintage ad learn electricity
1929
vintage ad radio tv technician
1931
vintage ad telegraphy lessons
1904
vintage ad electrician training
1920
vintage ad electricity training
1931
vintage ad radio training
1942
vintage ad electricity
1922

Deafness

The way deafness is discussed here feels very alien compared to how disability is talked about today. Also interesting to watch hearing aids come on the scene to resolve some people’s hearing issues.

vintage ad deafness
1922
vintage ad deafness
1942
vintage ad hearing aid
vintage ad hearing aid
1951

Detective Training, Accessories

Detective training ads are one of the most common categories as well. Even though a great many pulp magazines were dedicated to detective fiction, these ads tend to appear across almost all the genres surveyed.

Like ads in all categories, it would be incredibly interesting to put together a more comprehensive research project to track down and document the history of these advertisers, and what kinds of operations they were running based on other public documents from the times.

vintage ad detective training
1947
vintage ad crime detection
vintage ad finger print expert
1922
vintage ad secret service training
1936
vintage ad private investigator badge
1966
vintage ad detective investigator
1944
vintage ad detective training
1922
vintage ad police training
1953
vintage ad finger print expert
1938
vintage ad secret service
1926

Taxidermy, Hunting, Fishing, Outdoor Jobs

For some reason, taxidermy ads were huge in these magazines.

vintage ad NRA
1934
vintage ad fishing lure
1957
vintage ad fishing lure
1951
vintage ad taxidermy
1947
vintage ad taxidermy
1939
vintage ad forest jobs
1939

Sex, Love & Eugenics

This category is also one of the most well-represented across all types of magazines. Again, the most overt examples found in this set often tend to come from the “girlie” pulps, though you might be surprised how many of them could be found in more mainstream publications as well.

One extremely, shockingly, shamefully well-represented sub-category here is books about eugenics, which evidently bombarded Americans for decades in almost all genres of pulp magazines. It is really mind-blowing & we cannot emphasize enough how prevalent they were.

There is an interesting type example of one of these eugenics sex manuals captured on Flickr here, with some commentary. This Encyclopedia.com entry about one of the most popular titles below has some absolutely excellent analysis. Some excerpts included here for posterity:

“Winfield Scott Pugh’s introduction to Eugenics and Sex Harmony introduced readers to an unfamiliar aspect of the eugenics movement — open discussion of and enlightened attitudes about sex…

Many prominent Americans were eugenicists, and their views had broad support in public policy. Their goal was to insulate the American gene pool from “contamination.” Unfortunately, their advocacy led to the forced sterilization of the mentally ill; antimiscegenation laws, which forbade marriages between people of different races; and immigration restrictions…

Despite these disturbing objectives, eugenics was sold to the public as a method of family management. […] Eugenics was even presented as a mainstream science by most high school biology textbooks, and chairs for eugenics were established at prominent American universities.”

Surprisingly, some of these eugenics titles you can still buy on Amazon today!

Other items of note in this category include references to “French” or “France” which almost always seems to refer to something sexual, as far as we can tell. There’s also a sub-genre of erotic literature of the time we uncovered here related to sexual slavery & humiliation, which was a surprise to us to find represented.

vintage ad sexy photos
1941
vintage ad french photos
1934
vintage ad pick up artist
1936
vintage ad romance club
1954
vintage ad sex power
1937
vintage ad nudist camps
1933
vintage ad sexy photos
1929
vintage ad sex third gender
1934
vintage ad bachelor life sex
1942
vintage ad sex life of savages africa
1935
vintage ad cheese cake photos
1953
  • * Cheese cake photos were, according to Wikipedia, a more socially acceptable euphemism for pin-up photos.
vintage ad lonely hearts club
1938
vintage ad sex humiliation fiction
1937
vintage ad sexual slavery
1935
vintage ad humiliation fiction sex
1954
vintage ad censored books
1929
vintage ad sexual punishment humiliation
1935
vintage ad third sex transgender
1935
vintage ad sex books
1935
vintage ad sex eugenics book
1931
vintage ad peep show
1954
vintage ad french love drops
1928
vintage ad sex eugenics book
1931
vintage ad sex books condoms
1934
vintage ad nude photos
1921
vintage ad eugenics sex book
1934
vintage ad inflatable sex doll
1969
vintage ad sex drugs
1944
vintage ad sex book
1920
vintage ad book sex eugenics
1938
vintage ad sex book
1948

False Teeth

False teeth and adhesives for them are an extremely strongly represented category of ads across decades! Presumably owing to lower levels of dental care than we see today in the developed world.

vintage ad false teeth
1942
vintage ad false teeth
1942
vintage ad false teeth
1942
vintage ad false teeth
1939
vintage ad false teeth
1951

Cash for Coins, Cash Loans

Cash for gold or coins, and speedy loans schemes still prevail today among sketchy ads. So it’s nice to see they go back a good many decades!

vintage ad gold for coins
1934
vintage ad loans by mail
1959
vintage ad loans by mail
1951

Correspondence Courses

Correspondence courses are again one of the top advertisers across all genres of pulp mags, in all decades studied. They routinely play on fears of losing jobs, missing out on promotions, or being unable for a man to support a family. It’s interesting how technical so many of them are in this group, and other similar categories (such as radio/tv/electrical technician courses listed above).

vintage ad correspondence course
1922
vintage ad correspondence course law
1914
vintage ad correspondence course aviation
1927
vintage ad correspondence course blueprint reading
1943
vintage ad correspondence course foreman
1943
vintage ad correspondence course raising poultry
1909
vintage ad correspondence course nursing
1959
vintage ad correspondence course hotel jobs
1951
vintage ad correspondence course used
1944
vintage ad correspondence course marriage
1934

Occult, Mystic, Esoteric Knowledge

Of the occult, etc. category, the most well-represented of all is most definitely the Rosicrucians, who must have had a huge budget to run all these ads across almost all genres over the course of many decades.

vintage ad ouija board
1944
vintage ad yoga secrets
1953
vintage ad swedenborg
1917
vintage ad herbal occult high john the conqueror
1944
vintage ad lucky incense
1939
vintage ad psychic
1943
vintage ad hebrew magic
1935
vintage ad cabala lucky charm
1944
vintage ad rosicrucian book
1953
vintage ad mason wallet
1940
vintage ad prayer
1953
vintage ad fortune teller dreams
1922
vintage ad telepathy booklet
1931
vintage ad rosicrucian secrets
1945
vintage ad good luck root
1946
vintage ad telepathy
1930
vintage ad mystic chants
1977
vintage ad memory training
1959
vintage ad mind reading
1949
vintage ad ancient secrets magic
1942
vintage ad astrology predictions
1924
vintage ad hypnotism course
1957
vintage ad ben franklin rosicrucian
1954
vintage ad masonic books
1947
vintage ad rosicrucian secrets
1942
vintage ad hypnotism
1952
vintage ad weird mysto magic ring
1924
vintage ad rosicrucian secrets
1964

Learn to Draw, Art for Money

Ads to teach you how to become an artist, and/or make art for money are a well-represented category in magazines from this era.

vintage ad paint for money
1928
vintage ad learn to draw
1949
vintage ad learn to draw
1922
vintage ad art correspondence course
1949
vintage ad draftsman training
1913
vintage ad draw for money
1947
vintage ad learn to draw course
1944
vintage ad penmanship course
1909

Poems, Songs for Money

There were a huge amount of ads during the period studied for songs and poems set to music. We suppose this is because the emerging music industry was a hungry monster needing to be fueled constantly with new material.

vintage ad song writers
1931
vintage ad song poems wanted
1938
vintage ad poems set to music
1936
vintage ad write songs
1919
vintage ad songwriters
1922
vintage ad write songs
1939

Writing for Money

Probably there are more in this make money writing category, but we forgot to include them.

vintage ad make money writing
1966

Learn Music

In the era before radio and television really had a strangle-hold over modern culture and people still gathered in their homes to make music, ads to learn music at home appeared across all genres of pulp fiction magazine over decades.

vintage ad learn music
1935
vintage ad learn music
1932
vintage ad learn music course
1958
vintage ad jazzy fluta music instrument
1922
vintage ad music lessons
1942
vintage ad make a record at home
1940
vintage ad italian accordions
1931

Contests, Puzzles

These are really weird and silly. Definitely not a scam!

vintage ad contest
1953
vintage ad contest cash prizes
1959
vintage ad contest prizes
1954
vintage ad contest puzzle
1931
vintage ad art contest
1904
vintage ad contest win a car
1931

Inventions, Inventors

Ads for inventors, patents, etc. are another very well represented group across all categories and decades studied. The maw of industrialization & commercialization are always hungry for new products!

vintage ad inventors
1949
vintage ad inventors
1937
vintage ad inventors
1914

Government Jobs

Another very common category are government job ads (usually for training courses). The heyday of these seems to have been during the Depression, up through World War II, but we’ve seen them represented in other decades prominently as well. We saw one that we failed to capture here that specifically called out the New Deal.

vintage ad government jobs
1942
vintage ad government jobs
1938
vintage ad government jobs
1929
vintage ad government jobs
1940

Insurance

A big category is insurance. The most interesting part to us, like in many of these ads, is the pricing. The value of a dollar certainly has changed a lot!

vintage ad insurance
1942
vintage ad insurance
1944
vintage ad insurance
1943
vintage ad insurance
1944

Batteries

Eveready had tons of advertisements, and they usually told some kind of exciting story of their own. One we found but which we failed to include featured a man draped over the fender of a car holding a flashlight with an Eveready battery because there was an emergency and his headlight was out. Big if true!

vintage ad batteries
1947
vintage ad batteries
1945

Food, Drink & Tobacco

Some fun stuff in this category. Watch for the Postum ads which villified coffee, that you can learn a bit more about here. Amazing how many of these brands are still around today.

There’s also a peculiar ad in this set from the early 1900s that proudly claims their brand of lard is “Good for the race.” Yikes!

vintage ad baby ruth
1934
vintage ad nabisco
1920
vintage ad chewing tobacco
1916
vintage ad postum
1913
vintage ad domino sugar
1909
vintage ad baby ruth
1926
vintage ad brazilian mate
1937
vintage ad apricot liquor
1940
vintage ad lard
1904
vintage ad postum
1914
vintage ad postum
1901
vintage ad postum grape nuts
1899
vintage ad wrigleys gum
1929

Gadgets, Novelty Items, Toys

Tons of amazing finds in the gadgets, toys & novelties category. One of the most fun items here, with a long history, is the Johnson Smith company which usually had full-page ads of many different novelties.

Another curious discovery here is that apparently many Americans were still struggling to have hot water in their home as late as the early 1950s. That’s not very long ago!

vintage ad drinking duck
1947
vintage ad novelty pen
1952
vintage ad remington .22
1911
vintage ad multitool
1929
vintage ad personalized pencils
1951
vintage ad baseball curve ball thrower
1922
vintage ad ash trash novelty
1934
vintage ad hot water faucet device
1952
vintage ad pencil
1904
vintage ad engraved bronze plate
1939
vintage ad ostrich plume
1909
vintage ad scale models toy rifle
1937
vintage ad glow in the dark necktie
1944
vintage ad novelty toy lady godiva cigarette dispenser
1948
vintage ad tear gas pistol novelty
1941
vintage ad novelty blonde in a bathtub
1950
vintage ad pocket calculator
1938
vintage ad folding drinking cup
1914
vintage ad x ray curio
1927
vintage ad honor house novelty toys
1957
vintage ad slide rule
1957
vintage ad water pen
1954

Electronics

vintage ad 8mm home movie projector
1959
vintage ad phonograph brunswick
1921
vintage ad edison phonograph
1911
vintage ad defroster
1950
vintage ad record club hanover
1967
vintage ad geiger counter metal detector
1951

Cosmetics, Clothing, Fashion

vintage ad home tanning machine
1940
vintage ad exchange neck ties
1951
vintage ad full body underwear
1925
vintage ad slants pants
1949
vintage ad french nightie
1953
vintage ad mens suits
1914
vintage ad ivory soap
1927
vintage ad milkweed cream
1910
vintage ad pants matching service
1929
vintage ad cats paw rubber heels
1949
vintage ad socks
1904
vintage ad lee work clothes
1952
vintage ad hosiery garter
1919

Miscellaneous

Here are a few random items that stood out to us, but which didn’t fit neatly in other categories.

vintage ad tombstones direct
1953
vintage ad prefab houses
1950
vintage ad raise giant frogs
1938
vintage ad win at checkers
1934
vintage ad shade rollers
1925
vintage ad fly killer
1929
vintage ad cuba colony plantation
1899
vintage ad tabletop press excelsior
1911

We went down a major rabbit hole trying to resolve what the device likely was advertised above, and have settled on the Kelsey Excelsior, a type of platen press as being the most likely candidate. We’re actually looking at purchasing one ourselves possibly in the near future, because tabletop vintage printing presses are so amazing. We only wish we could get them for the prices they charged 100+ years ago! They don’t even make such machines like these new anymore, so far as we can tell.

vintage ad live pet turtles
1934
vintage ad ozark land
1948
vintage ad automatic pistol
1911

War bonds

1943

Ending the collection with some bad old-fashioned WWII racist propaganda by Dr. Seuss seems like as good a way to finish as any (see also this BBC story for further context). We hope it may serve as a gentle reminder that vilifying the enemy of today may look shitty and stupid tomorrow. Unless, you know, it’s actually Hitler. Cause that guy sucked!

Thanks for reading!

Additional resources

We hope you enjoyed our survey of pulp fiction magazine ads. We only wish we had more time to do an even more comprehensive historical study, but hopefully this will empower and inspire others to take the work even further on their own.

Learn more about pulp fiction magazines

With that in mind, here are some interesting articles and resources we found in the course of our research that are worth checking out:

If you know of other good pulp fiction magazine and especially ad references, please include them in comments below. Thanks!

Note: images included here are used under Fair Use for educational and historical purposes. If you’re a copyright holder, and would like to request removal of an item, we’re happy to do so.

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