Tag Archives: US Rubber

Ad Campaign – Howland Swim Caps, 1952

Soft, Lovely, Dry Hair Thanks to 

U.S. Howland Hair-Dry Swim Caps

1 Incurving V-Ribs keep water out!

2 Watertight suction band seals hair in!

3  Small, medium, and large sizes assure perfect fit.  Special size for children.

Swim and dive all you like, Howland protection stays with you.  Buy U.S. Howland Swim Caps wherever bathing accessories are sold – in Chartreuse, Red, Yellow, Blue, and White.

Note that the “in-curving ribs” are patented.  Whether or not the ribs actually worked is another matter, but  patents are good because patent numbers are often found inside swim caps  and are a useful tool in dating an otherwise tricky item.  Just remember that the date is not necessarily the date the item was made; it is the earliest possible date of manufacture.

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Filed under Advertisements

Ad Campaign – Eskiloos, 1960

The big draw for winter is ESKILOOS

(warm, washable, over-the-sock boots)

Eskiloos – the sleek-fitting, snug-feeling, smart-looking news!  Made by U.S. Rubber of striking new fabrics, all warmly lined, all winterproofed.  Light on the feet, yet sturdy.

I don’t need to tell you that I love these, right?  That if I had a time machine before me with only one trip to the past I’d set the dial to “wherever the newest in shoes is sold,”  September 1960?  I’d buy five pairs in both styles, in all the colors available so I’d have a lifetime supply of Eskiloos.


Filed under Advertisements, Shoes

Ad Campaign – 1958 Bathing Caps

Blossom out in flattering flowering Swim Caps by Kleinerts.  Cap your curls in these beauties and never worry your head about waves!  Hair stays dry for sure…

Look at the wonderful new things that have happened to swim caps.  Fabulous new textures… beautiful new designs… an array of colors to set the beach ablaze with a never before kind of swim cap flattery.

Two different ads with two different approaches to selling swim caps, but note how both use the word flatter, and both have cap-covered heads sticking out of the water.  Both ads appeared in the June, 1958 editions of American magazines.


Filed under Advertisements, Summer Sports

US Rubber Swim Cap, Circa 1960

My shopping time in St. Louis was severely limited, but I did manage to visit a nice antique mall that was across the road from our motel (now how did THAT happen?)  and I did find an item I had to take home with me – a black swim cap covered with shiny vinyl “hair.”  In the title I dated it at 1960, but these were being made in the the mid 1950s through the mid 60s.

In the 50s bathing caps became quite ornate, with applied decorations such as you see in my new cap, and with designs molded into the rubber of the cap.  These continued to be popular until the increasingly casual nature of hair styles in the 60s changed the status of the swim cap from necessary accessory to old-fashioned has-been.

Parents and our local pool officials tried to convince us in the late 60s that swim caps were necessary for girls.  The only problem with their argument was that by that time many boys had hair longer than the girls and no one was trying to make them stuff their heads into hot rubber bags!  So swim caps were left to the competitive swimmers and the grandmas with their salon-styled hairdos.

As much as I hated swim caps as a child, I adore them today.  As a collector of sportswear I can tell you that I’m a whole lot more likely to find a super swimsuit in good condition than I am to find a vintage swim cap that is not cracked, yellowed or just plain melted and trashed.  Rubber does not age well, especially when put in the temperature extremes often found in the storage areas of homes.   I found a really nice one several years ago that the seller was displaying on a headform, and when she removed it to sell it to me, the darn thing split in two pieces.

If you are looking to buy vintage bathing caps, always check carefully for any cracks or brittleness in the rubber.  Trust me, a cap with a hole is getting ready to split, and should never be put on a headform (or a head!).  Also, areas of discoloration can be an indication that the cap has been stored exposed to heat or light.  Proceed with caution.

I’ve heard all kinds of stories about women who have found the perfect swim cap to wear to a vintage themed event, only to have it self-destruct in the middle of the festivities.  I’m of the opinion that these are just too fragile to attempt wearing.  The good news is that vintage style caps are readily available, and are much cheaper than vintage ones.

If you run across a cap that looks vintage, look inside to see where it was made.  Most of the vintage caps I’ve handled were made in Great Britain, the United States or Spain.

This similar cap was featured in the June, 1958 issue of Glamour.  It was made by Kleinerts, a leader in the bathing cap industry for many years.  They are still in business, but unfortunately no long make swim caps.


Filed under Collecting, Proper Clothing, Summer Sports, Vintage Clothing

No Shoes, but a Great Box

For some time now I’ve been looking for some great swim shoes.  From time to time they come up on eBay, and are usually Edwardian, and always expensive.  Most of them are pretty plain – just black or navy with a bit of white trim.  But in the 1920s and 30s, there were some fantastic, Art Deco inspired ones made, and that’s what I’d really love to find.  So in my never-ending search for them, I did happen to find this great box:

Interestingly enough, the bathers in the pictures seem to all be barefoot!

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Filed under Shoes, Summer Sports