Moving on from Vanity Fair, we’re now visiting the 1950s archives of Playboy magazine. Playboy is very much an aspirational magazine, of course, filled with articles promoting the bachelor lifestyle. As such, ads for beer, wine, and spirits fit right in. The magazine, which premiered in the waning days of 1953, was published almost entirely in black-and-white for its first few years, so the ads here will feature a mix of color and black-and-white.
I’m going to change the focus here a little in presenting these vintage booze ads. I have collected so many by now that to feature only one a week would provide me enough material for several years! So instead, I’ll be grouping them by interesting themes, brands, or … well, whatever suits my fancy. This will allow me to write up a little about the ads, too, and do a bit of Internet research.
Jack Cole and Playboy
Among the early slate of illustrators and cartoonists for the magazine was Jack Cole, creator of the zany superhero Plastic Man. Cole had spent years enhancing his comics income by drawing single-panel “good girl” cartoons for magazines, so moving to Playboy was a natural fit. For the rabbit, Cole produced both line art and watercolors.
One popular Cole feature was a series called “Females,” a set of gag cartoons. Writing in their Cole bio Jack Cole and Plastic Man, Art Spiegelman and Chip Kidd describe “Females” as “breezy black-and-white brush impressions of women’s psychological states.”
A set of cocktail napkins, reproducing Cole’s “Females” gags, became the second Playboy merchandise introduced (after the iconic cuff links featuring the rabbit logo), and the following advertisement appeared in the July 1956 issue.
A couple of years later, Playboy expanded this product line, introducing sets of double old fashioned and highball glasses, as seen in this September 1958 ad:
I don’t know about you, but I think these are excellent collectibles and would be a great addition to any retro home bar.