A Retro Fathers Day Fit for a King

art & advertising vintage illustration father with crown for fathers day1940s

Fit For a King

Once upon a time, but not too long ago, all Dads were king.

Not only for a measly third Sunday in June, but to believe the mid-century American advertiser, the head of the household was the sovereign ruler of his suburban dominion the year round.

But it was on that special date proclaimed Fathers Day, a day filled with pageantry and celebration, that all his subjects paid homage bearing royal gifts worthy of his majesty.

Photograph vintage 1950s familyserving  father with crown on Fathers Day

When I was growing up in the 1950’s and 60’s, Father’s Day was a day of protocol, precedent and custom.

Truth be told, in our house my father was known more as the Queen’s Husband than as Sovereign ruler, not unlike England’s Prince Phillip.

But not on Fathers Day, when his throne was never more secure nor its occupant more firmly rooted in his subjects affections.

A Suburban Fathers Day

While Mom was busy washing the dishes from the royal breakfast feast, our King for a day, his most excellent majesty, Marvin, sat in regal isolation in his Naughahyde  Barca-Lounger throne.

With a Kaywoodie briar pipe as his scepter, resplendent in his Dacron wash ‘n wear pajamas, he wore a crudely constructed cardboard crown given as a promotion from Big Al’s Appliance Store atop his prematurely balding head.


vintage illustration 1940s children giving Father day gifts to father

Contently he basked in the glow of the day as presents were offered on bended knee, displayed before him for his approval.

Nothing said “Thanks, Pop” like a splendid no-wrinkle Acrylan mu-mu sport shirt with authentic south sea prints. Who said  a ruler couldn’t be a snappy pappy?

What was more worthy of a king than a distinguished pair of fairway themed cotton boxers with golf balls and nine irons cleverly printed across the fabric?

Every imperial leader needed a touch of bracing after-shave now and again, the woodsy aroma the very finest in masculinity, whose daily use helped give the royal face a clean magnetic masculine air.

vintage Illustration art 1950s father in hamock and 1950s father and son

Vintage Fathers Day ads for McGregor Men’s Sportswear 1950’s

vintage illustration art& advertising 1940s fathers and family recieving fathers day gifts

(L) Vintage ad 1948 Textron Menswear “Let the King Have His Fling in Textron Menswear” (R) “When Dad is King For a Day” Vintage 1948 ad Reis Underwear

vintage Father Day ads 1940s

(l) Vintage Fathers Day ad Seaforth Men’s Grooming Products 1946  (r) Vintage ad Fathers Day Spiedel watch bands 1946

vintage 1950s man shaving with electric razor picture of graduate shaving

Vintage ad Schick Electric Shaver1953 (r) Vintage ad Schick Electric Shaver For Dad or Grad 1953


fathers Day ads pipe and slippers

A Pipe and Slippers Fit for a King (L) Vintage Fathers Day ad Evans Slippers  1951 (R) Vintage ad Zippo Lighters For Fathers Day

But for my Dad no princely ban-lon shirt, crush resistant slacks, tiki print tie, no, not even an out of this world, newer-than-tomorrow electric razor could light up his countenance the way something truly fit  for a Royal did -a 1 pound canister of Prince Albert tobacco– “the national joy smoke.”

The way to my Dads heart was through tobacco.

A Pipe Line to His heart

Lvintage illustration art & advertising 1950s father and son in hammocks

Like Old King Cole  Dad was never merrier than when smoking his briar wood pipe, packing it tight with his Prince Albert tobacco.

“More than you know, perhaps…you do wonderful things for Dad by giving him a Kaywoodie pipe.” the ads promised. “You give far more in fact than the countless sweet hours of relaxation this luxury pipe brings to a man.”

Of course governing can be a stressful job so when he wasn’t puffing on a pipe, Dad could be found relaxing with a soothing cigarette.

Lucky for us, mid-century tobacco manufacturers were more than happy to lend a hand on Fathers Day coming out with a  line of special gift-wrapped  Father Day cartons and canisters fit for a king.

vintage ads pictures of happy 1950s family cigarettes

Vintage ads Camel, Cavalier Cigarettes and Prince Albert Tobacco for Fathers Day 1953

RJ Reynolds Tobacco company reassured its readers that our choice was a wise one and truly fit for a beloved monarch:

“Nearest and dearest to Dad- next to you– are his favorite cigarette or his faithful pipe. One of the things closest to your father are his smokes-his cigarette or his pipe. He carries them with him wherever he goes…they’re always part of the picture when he relaxes.”

“When it’s a gift from loved ones it’s doubly precious”

vintage illustration 1950s boy holding gift

Vintage ad for Fathers Day Kaywoodie Pipes 1954

Of course not as precious as all those years lost from developing emphysema. And that pipe line to his heart eventually found its way there with a heart attack at age 60.

God save the King!


Copyright (©) 20014 Sally Edelstein All Rights Reserved


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  1. Hi there, I left a comment earlier asking for permission to use one of the cartoons for a school PA newsletter. it’s purely non commercial. This is for an international school in Singapore. Thanks in advance. Vaish


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