Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Date Night - Playbills Vintage Style

A few months ago, I was in an antique shop and noticed a bunch of playbills.   You can quite imagine lovely ladies dressed up in flowing gowns and matching gloves with their arms wrapped around their handsomely dressed partner.   

Within this stack of playbills, were plays with Bette Davis, Katherine Hepburn, and many other great stars of the day!  I have subsequently sold these playbills but did keep the Katherine Hepburn 1939 Philadelphia Story playbill.  These playbills spanned the time of the late 30's to the early 50's.  I thought I might share some of the ads from within some of these playbills.

This ad was very interesting to me.  I just love the idea of wearing a "fresh" flower and gardenia's have an elegant ebb and flow about them.  I was very much taken with this ad when I first saw it and then I proceeded to Etsy to see if I might find a present day substitute.

Here is a gardenia I bought from Etsy from FlowerSculptures.   I am sure you will see it in an upcoming post.  It is so well done and beautiful in person.

Source: Etsy Seller FlowerSculptures

Isn't this an interesting Fashion ad?  I thought it was interesting how some of the playbills talked about the latest fashion.  After reading about this ad, I wanted to know more about Queen Elizabeth's parasol and how it stirred up a flurry of copies.  I looked to see if I could find a photograph of her with her parasol.

Ceil Beaton was commissioned to take these photographs of the Queen in July 1939.

Image source:  Opera gloves

The only current image I could locate of the umbrella.  I believe it is apart of "The Royal Collection".  This umbrella appears to be around today, isn't this interesting?   You can really check out the details with the "magnify" icon.  This parasol was set in diamonds and sapphires.

Here is a link to the dress and parasol from 1938.  

A Bette Davis playbill.

Lovely sketches

Fancy a trip to the Cotton Club to see Duke Ellington after the play?

Look at all the action happening at the Stock Club..

Or maybe a trip to "old Hawaii"?

I'd love to have "tea" with these well dressed ladies.  Look at those hats!

Some more lovely ladies to have an afternoon luncheon with:


  1. Dear Joanna, this is such a terrifically cool, informative, delightful post. I honestly don't believe I've ever had the pleasure of looking at a vintage playbill in person, and had no idea that some talked about popular fashions of the day in them. How thoroughly delightful! I think that alone would have enticed me to go to the theater! :)

    Thank you very much for sharing all of these stellar images with us.

    ♥ Jessica

  2. What a great collection of ads, they give so much insight into the times...especially regards to smoking. The only ad that look un-glamorous is the beer ad, which looks a bit awkward. Thanks for sharing! xx Shauna

  3. Love those photos of the late Queen Mother! Heavenly parasol1

  4. Great post! I don't think I've ever seen vintage playbills before.

  5. What a cool post. I have the playbill from every stage performance I've seen, going back to the Seventies. Must be about four dozen by now.

    Your blog is very enticing. Your taste in vintage fashion is very sharp.

    1. Good for you for keeping them! It's easy to throw things out like this. Thank you:)

  6. Thank you all, it was interesting perspective also taking a look at vintage playbills!

  7. Psst, Joanna! I just put a post up that's screaming your name. I basically scanned the article just for you, knew it's right up your alley <3

    xo Sara

  8. Oh I just love that Bette Davis playbill illustration!