1904 Cosmo Magazine - What fun!

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by donna723, Feb 24, 2007.

  1. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    I’m having so much fun with this, I just had to share! I was born and raised in St. Louis and my grandparents met at the 1904 St. Louis Worlds Fair … if it wasn’t for the Worlds Fair, I wouldn’t be here! So … just on a whim, I started haunting eBay and other places, buying all kinds of little trinkets and souvenirs from the Fair … I have a modest but growing collection of little glass dishes, metal trays, books, pictures, post cards, buttons, all kinds of junk! Anyway … I recently bought a copy of the September, 1904 issue of Cosmopolitan magazine, devoted almost totally to the Worlds Fair, and it just arrived yesterday! It’s not like todays Cosmopolitan magazine. It’s about 10”x7”, 144 pages. It’s very fragile, and the cover isn’t attached anymore, but it’s all there. Most of it is devoted to pictures and articles about the Fair, and it’s absolutely fascinating!

    But the real treasure is THE ADS! OMG! THE ADS! This is like a Twilight Zone peek back at what things were like 103 years ago, before the truth-in-advertising laws, and before the Food & Drug laws! There are ads for motor cars, both the steam models and the gasoline models – priced at about $700! There are ads for tailor-made suits for men from $10 to $30, and men’s bowler hats and garters! A brand new ornate iron bed for $7.75! Ads selling six beautifully bound Mark Twain books for $1.00. Brand new $35 typewriters from the “Chicago Writing Machine Company” …!

    There are ads promising a 10-day do-it-yourself cure for all your vision problems by mail order, using the “Madison Absorption Method”, with the endorsement of a Mrs. Margaret Harriman of New Richmond, Indiana, who used to be blind and now she’s not, thanks to Dr. Madison! And ads for “fleshy” people to lose weight, also by mail order, and it is guaranteed that “You will never be stout again”! Think they might have been on to something there??
    Then there’s “Armours Extract of Beef”, recommended for good health ... "If you have been to the country or seashore, it helps you retain the effects of an abundance of ozone!" It promises “Rosy cheeks and bright minds for school children and grown-ups”! And "Asparox", apparently some sort of asparagus-flavored powder to put in foods, or you can put it in water and make a beverage out of it if you like ... sounds yummy doesn't it! Like asparagus flavored Kool Aid! :cry: There’s a Postum ad with pictures of doctors warning about a serious ailment they called “Coffee Heart”! And some kind of "pre-digested" malt health food - made by Anheuser-Busch! It was highly recommended for "small children, invalids and nursing mothers"!
    My son loved one that was a picture of three people - two men and a woman - attached to some kind of contraptions … They had these “things”, almost like gas masks, attached to their faces, with a hose-like thing coming off of their noses … the hose-thing was attached to large "wheels" that they were all lugging around, about the size of a bicycle wheel. The caption was, "Experimenting With An Apparatus For Wireless Telephony"! The 1904 version of a cell phone! Sheeeesh! If they only knew.... :wink:

    My absolute favorite is the one that says, "Are your Legs Straight?" And it shows pictures of two pairs of mens trouser-clad legs, one with nice straight legs and one very bowlegged! They were selling, by mail order, some kind of little padded cushion things to stuff down the inside of their pants legs to fill them out around the knees so they don't look bowlegged! Apparently there were a lot of bowlegged guys back in 1904!

    This is such a hoot! I can't stop giggling and I’m only part way through the book! I spent $16 whole dollars for it and it will keep me laughing for years! Well worth $16!!! And now I finally know why my grandmother had such a wonderful sense of humor!
  2. Lothlorien

    Lothlorien Active Member

    Gosh, I would love to see that.....what a hoot!
  3. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member

    That was quite interesting. I bet you are having fun picturing your grandparents reading this - heck, living it!
  4. Martie

    Martie Moderator

    Bowed legs were very common due to childhood malnutrition causing rickets. When I first moved to Chicago, I was astounded at the numbers of little old ladies with bowed legs--almost all "ethnic" Eastern Europeans for whom times were very bad when they were young children just before the turn of the century. One "expects" to see spinal curves in this population but I had never seen bowed legs. I'm sure that in 1904, there would have been many successful men who would like to hide their less than prosperous childhoods. Women didn't have to because their to the ankle skirts would cover the problem.

    Very interesting item to have. I have seen replica Sears catalogs from the early twentieth century, but never a real magazine.

    Great find!

  5. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    Martie, this isn't a replica, it's the real thing. I'm almost afraid to touch it too much for fear of it crumbling away. Actually it's in pretty good shape considering that it's 103 years old. The cover isn't attached and the edges of the pages are a little rough, but that's it. It must have been stashed away somewhere for years and years. I've seen those Sears catalogs too and they're fascinating!

    It's hard for us to realize what people contended with in those days. I would imagine that there were a lot of diseases like rickets caused by malnutrition, and lack of medical care. Many of those people were immigrants or the children of immigrants, lots in the St. Louis area too - including my grandmother. Many of the ads in the magazine are for products promoted as things that would keep children healthy, soaps that they claimed would keep people from getting sick, patent medicines making all kinds of claims and mail order "cures" for every disease imaginable! Can you imagine trying to cope with a sick child back in 1904? Sad to think that people back then suffered so much from things that are so curable now!

    But who would have imagined that there was ever such a product as trouser padding for bowlegged men! Pretty clever, actually.
  6. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts


    How cool is this? You'll need to find a way to store this treasure so there won't be further damage.

    We found a first edition copy of Huck Finn at the family farm a couple of years back. My uncle, who runs the farm, had it assessed for insurance purposes. He then checked in how to keep it safe from further damage. I can't remember how he's doing it.

    I love holding history, as such, in my hands.
  7. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    Linda, that's what I was wondering too. I'm not sure what to do with a whole magazine. Right now, it's sitting on my dining room table! I have other old paper articles too and I'm not sure what to do with them either. I've bought lots of old post cards and some were sent to me in little plastic "sleeves", like what they put baseball cards in, but postcard sized. Not sure where to find them, but I'm going to check the Hobby Lobby. I've got several old "stereoview" cards too, the ones that went into the "Magic Lantern" things and showed a 3D image. They originally came as sets in little wooden storage boxes.

    A while back I "rescued" some very old family documents, framed them, and put them up in one of my bedrooms. Not sure if I did them the right way, but they're better off now than they were before. When my mom died, I found a plastic bag crammed in with other stuff up on a closet shelf. Rolled up :mad: inside the bag was my grandfathers baptismal certificate, written in German, dated 1890, and his confirmation certificate from the Lutheran Church, dated 1903, also in German. These are big ornate things with beautiful color pictures ... very fancy. There's also a big, ornate marriage certificate from the church dated 1916 and the smaller "legal" certificate. How they survived all that time, rolled up in a plastic bag, is beyond me! Just unrolling them was a challenge! These are from my other grandparents, not the ones that met at the Worlds Fair. If I can ever afford it (probably never!) I'll have the documents professionally framed so they will be properly preserved.
  8. Martie

    Martie Moderator


    I am not sure that framing is the best way to preserve because of light exposure. However, I would consult with someone who knows about this stuff.

    I realize your magazine is not a replica--I was just mentioning that I has seem replica catalogs from the era.

    I do not know if this is a good idea or not but if I were you, I would want to photo copy the magazine (create a replica) so you can share it with whomever--and then put the original where ever the expert would recommend.

    This is very cool.



    I would like to start one of our "straw poll" threads asking how many people had a childhood illness before the age of 10 that probably would have been fatal in 1904. Do you think that is morbid? I think it is interesting.... probably because I have thought about it before you mentioned it in your response. I would not have made it (pneumonia) and I wonder about others.
  9. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    Martie, the room the framed pieces are in is a very dark, unused bedroom. I know that's not the ideal place to put them, but I figured it was better than leaving them rolled up a plastic bag. It actually took me a long time to get brave enough to touch them for fear I'd damage them ... wonder what kind of "experts" you would consult that would know about these things? I did scan the covers and several pages of the magazine to send to relatives. It's hard to do though because it's impossible to push it flat to the glass without damaging it, so some only copied the outside half of the pages. It's only about 7" wide and held together with very big staple-like things, so it just doesn't go flat.

    You know, I've wondered about that too ... when my kids were little I used to think all the time that probably neither one of them would have survived their childhood if they had been born in earlier times. My daughter would have been stillborn or severely impaired if it were not for the expert medical intervention at her birth. She had pneumonia three times and seizures bad enough to land her in Intensive Care, all before she turned three. My son too had occasional unexplained seizures until he was about six or seven. Both kids had very bad allergies and so many ear infections, I hate to think where they would have been without modern antibiotics. Both would have probably lost their hearing. And all the cases of bronchitus and strep they had that were cured with countless bottles of "pink stuff" from the pharmacy ... probably would have turned into pneumonia in earlier days. It's really something to think about. Back in my grandparents day, most people had very large families, and most families had lost a child or two. I knew that my grandmother had a brother and a sister. I never knew until seeing a detailed family tree recently that when my grandmother was five, she lost a seven year old sister and a baby brother - both in the same year. Her mother gave birth to five children, lost two of them in the same calendar year, and three survived to adulthood. So sad!
  10. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts


    I'd take it into a respected antique dealer, museum or possibly a university library. At the very least, one of those resources could point you in the direction you need to go.

    As to surviving those times, my grandfather (he's 97 now) will tell you about having his tonsils removed on the kitchen table. I can't even imagine.
  11. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Well-Known Member

    My Dad had an appendectomy on the kitchen table at age 3 in 1936.
  12. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    There were a lot of ruptured ear drums before antibiotics. Lots of kids died of small pox, scarlet fever and t.b. Not to mention those that survived with incredible disability.
    Can you imagine a sign on your door screaming QUARANTINE ?

    I remember whiskey being rubbed on cutting teeth in babies. Warm oil in ear canals for ear aches.
  13. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Too cool Donna! I love that sort of thing! I'd try maybe a historical society or museum to find someone to tell you how to preserve it.

    My Mom's second husband had rickets. I guess that also explains why whenever we had meat that had bones (chicken, roast) he'd dig out the cooked marrow and eat it. Anything less he considered wasteful.