1970s Charlie Chaplin Beach Towel

In the past I have written about the early 1970s nostalgia craze. Retailers were quick to catch on, and so it was easier to buy a shirt decorated with the face of Little Orphan Annie than it was to find one featuring current rock stars. One favorite was Charlie Chaplin.

I’ve dated this towel to circa 1973. In that year one could also buy a sweater with Chaplin’s face, and if you had acted very quickly before the product was pulled from the market due to copyright issues, you could buy a Whiting & Davis mesh handbag. 1973 seems to be the year that Chaplin made a comeback. It was the year after he had been awarded an honorary Oscar for his ground-breaking work in film, so he must have been on people’s minds.

It almost seems like there are two types of vintage beach towels. There are the very thin, brightly colored towels with printed beach scenes. I’m betting most of these were actually sold in gift stores and beach shops at the coast (Anyone else remember the fabulous Gay Dolphin store in Myrtle Beach? It’s still open!) I have several of these, dating from the 1950s through the 70s.

The other type is like my Charlie Chaplin towel. It’s thick and full, and the design is woven in rather than printed onto the terrycloth.

Royal Terry International was one of the trademarks of Barth & Dreyfuss of California. The company was an importer, mainly of household and novelty towels. Being made in Brazil, this was one of the first wave of imports that led to the eventual collapse of towel manufacturing in the USA.

That RN number on the label proved to be the key to the company that produced the towel. There is an online database where you can type in the number, and it tells you who owned the label. It’s a handy little tool.


Filed under Collecting, Novelty Prints, Sportswear, Summer Sports, Textiles

5 responses to “1970s Charlie Chaplin Beach Towel

  1. jacq staubs

    1973 – you were entering college / i was going -to my first real job! Thank you for the towel info. They couldn’t copy the “Warholesque” art form enough could they? Loved it.Thanks for the 70’s rush!Stay safe & cool!


  2. Ultrawoman

    I saw Charlie Chaplin everywhere back then. IBM used his likeness in a campaign for the first PC’s.


  3. Debs

    Interesting to see. Charlie Chaplin was born in the area I lived in, SE London, and we even had a local pub named after him until very recently (the developers moved in!). Very iconic image.


  4. Mary Ann Rodman Downing

    If you can’t find it at the Gay Dolphin, it doesn’t exist! I just discovered your blog a couple of weeks ago, and am hooked. (I write historical fiction for kids.)


  5. I love the bold graphic quality of this! It’s so modern!


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