Tag Archives: beach towel

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

Rose Marie Reid

I grew up in the days of the premium – the advertising freebies given away by companies to keep their brand name literally in front of you.  These freebies took many forms, and were sometimes given out in department stores but more often were offered through the company’s ads in magazines.

I found this great Mid Century design towel from Rose Marie Reid on ebay back in the winter.  I’m not sure that it is a premium, as the Rose Marie Reid company sold bathing accessories along with their famous swimsuits.  But there is something about the quality – or rather lack of quality – that hints that this was given away rather than sold.  But quality aside, I love the design, with the big rose hat and the beachy symbolism.

Many companies used premiums to their advantage.  Many of them were geared toward impressionable children, but there were also many opportunities for girls and women to send in a dime, a proof of purchase,  or a stamped envelope to receive a “gift” in the mail.

In the mid 1960s, this was how so many of the paper dresses were sold.  Companies printed their advertising on the dresses which were offered through magazines for one dollar.  Probably the most famous was the Campbell’s Soup dress, but these were also made for The Yellow Pages, Green Giant Foods, and of course, the company that started the craze for paper dresses – Scott Paper.

A sampling of premiums from 1966 and 1967:

Stainless spoon for 25 cents.

How to plan your engagement and wedding booklet.  This ad is from Seventeen, which was always full of engagement ring ads!

Free charms from the Kotex Charm tree!

Skin care trial sizes

200 page cookbook for 25 cents.  Who knew there were 200 ways to use Campbell’s Soups?

Flatter Pins from Kleenex.  This expired January 1, 1967, darn it!  I’d love to get a Golden Puppy pin.


Filed under Advertisements, Curiosities, Summer Sports