Monday, September 6, 2010

Delightful Discoveries - 1940s: Decade of Change 09.06.10

Rosie the Riveter, Betty Grable's legs, and mushroom clouds over Japan... iconic reminders of the 1940's - the Decade of Change. World War II defined the era, with the US and Russia becoming world powers.

Prosperity came to America as a bittersweet result of the war - with women joining the work force as men and boys joined the war efforts. The minimum wage went from $0.30/hour in 1940 to $0.40/hour in 1949, 55% of American homes had indoor plumbing, and over the course of the decade, prices climbed as the opportunity to earn money increased. Increased income led to a housing and buying boom, and by the end of the decade, people were buying up homes for and cars as quickly as they could. The average home cost by 1949 was $14,500 (up from$6,550 in 1940), while new car prices more than doubled from $800 to $1650 over the decade. Gasoline for that car cost a "pricey" 26 cents a gallon. Prices for common goods also more than doubled, with the price of a gallon of milk going from 34 cents to 84 cents, and a loaf of bread rising (pun intended) from 8 cents to a whopping 14 cents a loaf.

TV (and TV dinners) were introduced, although radio was still America's lifeline. You could listen (and jitterbug) to the Big Band sounds of band leaders like Tommy Dorsey, Glenn Miller, and Duke Ellington, as well as the sultry voices of famous crooners like Bing Crosby, Perry Como, and Frank Sinatra. Movies were in their heyday with stars like Humphrey Bogart, Judy Garland, Jimmy Stewart, Katharine Hepburn, Gary Cooper, and Elizabeth Taylor seeing their careers booming in movie classics like Casablanca, National Velvet, Adam's Rib, Meet Me in St Louis, It's a Wonderful Life, and The Pride of the Yankees. Disney released Fantasia, its first full length animated feature.

Zoot suits for men, slacks for women, and the bikini were the height of fashion, although in Hollywood, glamor reigned supreme. Computers, mobile phones, and microwave ovens arrived on the scene, although their use in the private sector wouldn't evolve for decades. Velcro, Tupperware, transistor radios, and the pocket calculator were invented, and Dairy Queen, Carl's Jr, McDonald's, and Baskin Robbins all opened their doors for business.

Conspiracy and suspicion under-lied public opinion the world over, from the appearance of "Kilroy was here" images around the world, to concerns about mind-control and government cover ups of incidents like the Roswell crash. It truly was the best of times and the worst of times.

When I began my search for the items I'm sharing with you today, I was truly amazed at the number of items that my first search for "1940s vintage" revealed on Etsy... over 19,000. Lots to choose from! I tried to pick a good cross section when I finally narrowed everything down between my choices and those given to me. I hope you enjoy this look at the 40's... I know I did. I may not have been around yet, but my brother and sister were both born during this decade, so I'll dedicate this post to them!

Military influenced styles contrasted with Hollywood glamor in women's fashions... jewelry styles ran the gamut from glittery Crown Trifari to casual bakelite.

(l-r, top to bottom)
Vintage 1940s BERENICE HOLLOWAY rayon crepe suit from revivalhouse
Vintage 1940s Navy Blue Oxfords 8.5 A from SmallEarthVintage
Vintage 1940s Miss Bette Navy Blue Straw Hat Grosgrain Accent from KitschNCollectibles
Lunch With Judy Vintage 1940's Navy Blue Corde' Clutch Purse from VixVintage
Gold Sienna Art Deco Earrings with Swarovski Cream Ivory Pearl from Lulusplendor
Snappy Vintage 40's Two Tone Jacket and Pants Set from Planetclairevintage
Fluttering Leaves - vintage 1940s dress semi-sheer novelty print from traven7
Vintage 1940s Dressing Gown 40s Dressing Robe Saybury from chicvintagevixen
1940s vintage ALABASTER MESH sack swimsuit from allencompanyinc
Deeply Carved Pierced Jet Black Deco Period Bakelite Bangle from MercyMadge

Men's fashions enjoyed a variety of themes as well - from swing era Zoot Suits to college hep...

(l-r, top to bottom)
Amazing 40's Pin Stripe Suit from yesterdazed
Vintage Men's Star Fedora Black Hat from TeaAtHomeWithOlivia
Vintage WINGTIP spectator lace up oxfords from fluffypinkbunnies
Vintage Deco ADAM Mens Panama Straw Hat from marvita13
Vintage 1940s CLASS OF 46 Burgundy Wool Cardigan Washington State Letter Sweater from fabgabs
Vintage JOHNSTON and MURPHY mens SADDLE SHOES in two tone brown, size 8 from AudreysClosetVintage

No tribute to a decade would be complete without a touch of pop culture... so here are a few great vintage finds of items produced during the 40's.

WW 2 post cards New York City from IronsideVintage
1940's Kodak Brownie Target Six-20 from JuniperHome
Vintage 1940s Van Tellingen Pat. Pend Salt and Pepper Bears Hugging from widgetsandwhatsus
1942 American Womens COOK BOOK WARTIME EDITION with VICTORY SUBSTITUTES from WhiskeyCreekCottage
Beautiful Art Deco Crosley Radio c 1946 from 4EyesAndEars
Vintage 40s drip COFFEEPOT hammered aluminum - 8 cup from forrestinavintage

I hope you enjoyed this walk down memory lane... I'm sure a lot of you may remember some of these items from your youth, or mom and dad's house, or even your grandparent's photo albums and tales of "back in the old days"! Tomorrow I'll be showcasing goodies (although not quite as many!) from the decade of my birth - the fabulous 50's! If anyone has anything they'd love to see featured, just click here for the submission form to e-mail me the link to the page of the shop where I can see your items or your favorites from another shop.

'Til tomorrow, hope your day is great!


Sesenarts said...

Great selection! they were a classy mob back then.

Karen/Small Earth Vintage said...

Wow, Karen--what beautiful collections you've made here! Naturally I love seeing the women's fashions on display, but that zoot suit-y men's grouping gave me a little thrill, too. Thanks for including me.

Emily said...

Thanks so much for featuring my camera! The 1930's & 1940's are definitely my fave decades! :D

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