Magazine Subscription Stamps of the 1980s

In the early 1980s I was on a gazillion mailing lists, including the well-known Publishers Clearing House and their competitors, American Family Publishers. Their envelopes were like the AOL CDs of the 1980s: while everybody got them, most people didn't want or need them and some people even put them to creative uses like wrapping presents.

In a thinly-veiled attempt to get you to purchase lame (even by 1980s standards) magazines, they would send you sheets of brightly-illustrated stamps bearing magazine names at discounted prices. The sheer volume of stamps on each sheet made for an eye-popping display of earth-tones-meet-primary-colors that only somebody like Andy Warhol would appreciate. Even more bizarre than the graphic design and strange magazine names were the prizes you could win.

When seen in their entirety they make for an interesting display of colors.

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Things really start to get lame when you read the ad pitches:

"So c'mon -- order your!"

Wow, aren't they chummy?

"We'll get to work on your order just as soon as we hear from you. Many thanks."

Do they really mean "many thanks" or did they add that phrase just to fill space through the end of the line?

"We're here in Port Washington--ready and waiting to serve you. Many thanks!"

Wow, they sound so expectant that even today I feel guilty not ordering.

What, no heartfelt appeal? No honest thanks? Oh, that's because this one is from American Family Publishers. Clearly they don't care as much as the folks from Publishers Clearing House.

This doesn't mention Publishers Clearing House anywhere so I'm guessing it was one of their competitors but who knows?

I wasn't aware that everybody wants a Cadillac Seville. I wonder whether the choice of in gas or diesel was supposed to reassure people after the gas crisis of the early 1970s.

If you won the Grand Prize or Second Place and elected to take the cash, would you really get a stack of greenbacks in brown wrappers with big "$" signs on them?

This is just a variation on the one shown above. Here they're flogging the oil well prize; no mention of a house, although you can take the $100,000 in cash if you prefer.

It's interesting to note that of the Cadillac, VCR and Polaroid camera, 30 years later every one of these companies or technologies would be obsolete. Heck, even the oil well would probably have dried up or prices crashed.

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Last modified: Sat 17 October 2009 12:50:46