Nostalgic Fortune Magazine Ads 1934


I love nostalgic old ads. When I was living in a third floor apartment above a beauty parlor from 1984 to 1989, my landlord tore away part of a wall and found cardboard ads behind it. One was for Heinz and one for dish soap. Being as old as they were, they only had a few age spots. My son was 8 yrs. old in 1989.

Now in his 30s, he has a love “of all things olde” too, like me. In fact, he has a collection of old Fortune magazines. The above picture is a 1934 copy which sold for one whole dollar. That is pretty high for 1934 even though the magazine is an inch thick with cardboard type cover and filled with beautiful artwork. It’s also huge. A foot high, I found it hard to balance to peruse easily. 


Take a look at this ad I found, of a man entirely pleased (is that a pleased expression? I can’t tell) with his Spud cigarette. Smoke it to “feel fresh like April!” and The accompanying article states that mushrooms are an acquired taste. Mushrooms?! 

“The more you eat them, the taste just grows on you.”

 It went on to compare Spud cigarettes to mushrooms. Odd indeed! And incidentally, what marketer chose the name “SPUD?”


In this ad for “International Sterling,” the buyer is urged to consult the wife.



This guy is serving up what looks to be whiskified cranberry sauce or whatever is on that plate. I don’t know. The ad proclaims: 

“Four Roses Whiskey, End your Thanksgiving day dinner in an old fashioned blaze of glory!” 

The other ad promises pre-prohibition casks. There are a LOT of liquor ads in this issue.


Duplate safety glass and a man offering a lady some ketchup. I don’t think she wants the ketchup. I think shes… Playing cards?

The article next to this picture states:

“It’s no use young man, Give Up. Madame is thinking about shoes to go with her fall wardrobe. Don’t waste your time showing her something to eat. She isn’t in the mood. It’s easier to make proper use of a woman’s moods than to change them.”


They are selling McCall’s magazine here. I think. Or it’s just a commentary on marketing using ketchup? I don’t know what they’re selling. I’ll have to read it again. This reminds me of today’s ads. Sexist remarks aside, my mother used to watch a commercial on TV for sneakers or network browsers, dating websites or IPads and then she’d say to me “I have no idea what they’re selling? Soda?”

This next one is a tad racist, wouldn’t you think? They are selling Golden Wedding Rye (aged 4 years!).


It states:

“What’s that fellow bawling out, Redcap?”

“He say Ma’am, dat de average age ob Golden Wedding Rye am 4 yeahs old, Ma’am.”

“Humph, he might as well save his breath—everybody knows that!”


A 595 dollar car anyone? How about a stay at the Biltmore? Only 4$ a room. Twelve dollars for a suite! Last ritzy place I stayed in was The Omni in Boston and it was in 2014. I paid over 350.00 a night. 

I adore old fonts. Have you ever watched the sitcom TheMiddle, one of my favorite sitcoms of all time? You’ve no idea how much I identify with Brick! (Who is modeled after an Aspergers person). He loves fonts.  I can relate. 

40In this color ad, it is stated that in 1777, while mixing a poison, an apothecary discovered “color for advertisers.”


This color ad about color ads is by the Kimberly-Clark Corporation. 

There is an article in this 1934 issue about sunshine and cod liver oil being a cure for the rickets. 

And an article about pet stores being cheap “Depression era amusement.”


18This little Disney cartoon from Silly Symphonies describes the bawdy “Papa Disney” who caught flack for showing a cow with her udders exposed! Egad! But no worries. He saved face, and after the scandalous backlash, put a proper skirt on that cartoon cow! 

However I presume this lit match chasing a baby was entirely acceptable! Or are they insinuating it isn’t?

15 16These two famous ladies (who are they?) are endorsing liquor. We must buy it, because they say so. It’s like Alex Trebek endorsing insurance. Right? Or athletes pushing sneakers…


This man has a sign taped to his back, presumably by his wife, urging his friends to keep him “on the alkaline side” with White Rock! “(So he’s not a grump in the morning.)”


Love the art here and the accompanying article is amusing. 

The majority of Fortune was black and white; at least in this issue. The art ranges from calligraphy, pen and ink, watercolor styles, cartoons, to beautifully rendered persons, machines, cars and landscapes. The topics are homey overall with an emphasis on good moral character and wholesome values; unless one notices the sexism, racial stereotyping and racism, smoking and booze. Here are some colorful ads:


5 6


1(men know this)

1 2

This lady findsCamels mild and delicate. 

So Buy Camels! Because these two people love them!

18342429Aaaah, technological wonders! Typewriters with carriage return buttons, dictaphones, General Electric lamps, telephones, radio shows…

19How about a visit to California? Arizona?

20You can stop and see The Amazing Boulder Dam!

20Bacardi cocktail anyone? Liquor ads galore in this magazine! Viva Cuba

 4 5 6Cool!9

7 8

This artist Tony Sarg, is selling pencils. VENUS pencils. 10 cents seems a bit high for the 1930s…


This woman says

“What’s the hurry?”

I’m leaving Henry–forever!”

“What’s the problem?”

“He hates our home! He hates my taste!”

“What’ll she do?”

“She’ll make our home so beautiful he’ll never criticize my taste again!”

Moral of this ad: Hire a decorator, ladies! Your man may be offended by your taste and you do not want that!

12Chances of living????? Rest assured this table is “authentic!” 

10 11

He’ll never let her down because he has good insurance… And this is clear: women of 1934 love Comoy’s pipes.

22Aaah, the perfect dad. He too is fully insured. He is a well dressed, conscientious father who is doing the right thing. By gosh he even reads the kid stories. I think. I’m being facetious, I know. 

23For some reason, this ad for carpets, in particular touting carpet colors, cracks me up. Brown is not only current and smart and outstanding, it is also in demand! brown. how unboring. 

And now for some random favorites I came across:

unnamed (1)

Lady Gaga he isn’t; from an article on “selling.” And “product pitches.” It’s Fortune magazine after all. 

unnamed (2) unnamed (3)

Yet more cigarettes and booze! These are in color though. 

unnamed (4)She is described as the “smart home economist… ” She too is playing cards?

 unnamed (6) unnamed

And now for my favorite, a full page color ad:


And to think, this was all found in one issue. I’ve got a whole crate of Fortune to peruse! That’s it for now. Do you want to see more?

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