As a history graduate student—with a focus in U.S. military history—nothing has given me greater joy than browsing the JCK magazine archive from the 1940s.
The archive—which spans five months in 1942—is chock-full of breathtaking covers, articles focusing on what the industry was doing to help the war effort, and jewelry ads promoting patriotism. The type, imagery, and language designers and journalists employed are all remarkable keepsakes from the era defined by World War II.
With Memorial Day approaching, I thought it would be worthwhile to spend some extra time in this archive over the next couple weeks. If anyone has any memories of what their grandparents or parents went through during the war, please feel free to share in the comment section, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To begin with, check out my five favorite patriotic jewelry ads from 1942.
JCK May 1942
Wadsworth Watch Case Co.
An ad depicting how the population envisioned a U.S. soldier: young, good-looking, and smiling in the face of danger
JCK August 1942
This is one of the coolest-looking ads I’ve ever come across in any publication. The provocative scene of the bombers puts jewelry aside in order to tie the business firmly to the war effort.
A subtler—and perhaps more effective—way of fusing jewelry and the military
JCK September 1942
Can’t go wrong with a catchy tagline and an image of three hardened-looking soldiers bracing for battle.
Kousin Jewelry Co.
My grandfather went AWOL right before he shipped out for the front to marry my grandmother. They didn’t see each other for another four years. This ad reminds me of them.
This is one of the few propaganda jewelry ads I felt comfortable publishing here. There are several others that showcase how far government and business officials went in order to demonize the enemy and encourage support for U.S. military goals. As righteous as the cause may have been, these ads are chilling all the same.