Tuesday, August 24, 2010

High on Life

High on Life, indeed.

It was almost exactly one year ago that I gorged myself on Life(s).  Of course I'm referring to the now-defunct weekly magazine that was, in its time, the most popular magazine in America.

The gorging occured at Paul Auctions in Kewaskum.  I saw this huge lot of Lifes and just assumed that they'd separate them in piles of ten or fifteen.  No such luck (happily!).

I got to the auction at about 4 p.m. and waited until the lot came up, which was at about 9 p.m.  The bidding started at $10.  My hand went up and so did someone else's.  We got into a bidding war, but I was bound and determined to get these dang magazines, especially after waiting 5 hours for them.  Sure enough, the other guy eventually ducked out.  So I walked away with close to 70 Lifes (with a couple of Look and Collier's thrown in for good measure) for an insanely cheap price.

I got that "I'm on crack" feeling when I got these magazines, the same feeling I get when I walk into a too-good-to-be-true estate sale or antique store.  I really did gorge myself on these magazines, making plans for collages using all of the beautifully inked graphics in the vintage ads.  Poor Brian - when he saw the backseat of the car I'm sure his first thought was, "Where are we going to store these?" followed closely by, "How many hundreds of dollars did this set us back?" (Answer?  Not even close!)

And to me, one of the coolest things in the world is a full-color vintage ad, especially between the years 1948-1962 (I've looked at hundreds of magazines and to me this is the "golden age").  Because we're talking about ads between 62 and 48 years old, there is going to be natural aging and discoloring of the pages, and the ink that was used is nothing like the ink used now (I think it has to do with lithography vs. offset printing, but I'm no expert.  Anyone know?).  It's a flatter color and very "Technicolor-y", if that makes sense.  And there were very few photos used; illustration ruled this age, which is just another reason why I love them.

There may be dispute as to whether magazines are technically "ephemera"; the way I look at it, Life was a weekly news magazine - like newspapers, they normally weren't saved unless there was something personal in a particular issue (I don't save my "Entertainment Weekly" issues every week, either).  I have no idea why all of these issues were saved, but wow, am I ever glad they were!

After my giant Life purchase, you'd think that would've held me for a while.  Oh, no.  I found a bunch of 1954 Better Homes & Gardens at the Kewaskum antique mall for super cheap.  I found early 60s Good Housekeepings for a buck apiece at our own antique mall here in Fondy.  Also, my friend/Brian's cousin Sherry is my vintage mag connection - whenever she sees any at rummage sales, I'll find them on my doorstep (how awesome is that?!?).  I doubt my insatiable appetite will ever be sated for these amazing links to our past, but I sure have fun collecting/using them.

I have made so many collages with these magazines, I'd run out of room posting them.  So here are my favorites:

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