Coming Clean

Swift’s Pride Soap
and Washing Powder
was made in Chicago
by Swift & Company
from around 1875
into the 1930’s.

Swift was a famous
meat-packer, and
found that making
soap was a natural
extension of his
business – about
a dozen different
varieties of it were
manufactured at
the Chicago plant
as well as in Atlanta,

They included
several perfumed
soaps and specialty
cleansers like:
Swift’s Pride
Washing Powder,
Sunbrite Cleaner,
Swift’s Wool Soap,
and a product called
Lexard Superfatted
Toilet Bar .

The cards featured
on the blog today
are advertising cards
for the Swift’s Pride
line of soaps from
around 1905 ;

As you can see,
they’re beautifully
illustrated with a
child and
the shadow
of an animal —-
nicely litho’d,
and containing
a witty verse on

For instance:

” Susie’s song
was very sweet,
She never
a note,

Her voice was
a little bleat,

It sounded like
a goat. “


” Bertha’s bonnet
is the style,
Maybe you have heard, 
Bertha’s clothes
and Bertha’s smile
Make her
quite a bird. “


!!! HOY !!!



Friday Mailbag

It’s weird….

Here we are
October already,
and I’ve barely
gotten a tan yet.

I guess
I’m gonna
have to break
out my old
trusty , dusty
sun lamp –

I’ll be as
pale as under-done
buttermilk biscuits
by December.

I’m actually a big
fan of autumn,
but I have to get
my head around it
and these damned
Christmas TV
aren’t helping.

I noticed the first
one way back in
the beginning of
September ……

Now, I know I
piss and moan
about it every year,
but doesn’t it seem
like a third of a year
to get ready for Xmas
is just a little
ridiculous ?

Oh, I know….
It’s just me.


Maybe if I didn’t
get coal in my
so carefully
hung by the
every year,
that might make
a difference,
I dunno.

And that
TV commercial
I mentioned
that ran
back in
September ….

It was for
a plastic

Yes, sir…
nothing’ll put ya
in the mood for
Christmas like the
piquant aroma of


The truth is that
I wouldn’t
mind celebrating
the holiday
if it got half
as sexy as the
cards on today’s

I figured
I’d surrender
to the whole
4 months
of Christmas thing
and bring you
these cards that
really do Christmas
Muscleheaded style.


!!! Enjoy !!!


Love’s Calling

flirt1920'sFlirting has always
been a part of life.

Even today,
situations sometimes
call for flirting to be
done with a little more
subtlety than others.

our predecessors
had it much,

Manners were
of the utmost importance
to the people in the American
middle and upper classes
of the late 19th century–

— every aspect of life
was strictly governed by
a set of societal rules,

gThe violation of which,
would subject a person
to social sanctions–

— ranging from a simple ‘hrrrrmph’ or an insult,

to complete isolation from
the community at large.

So many of the rules of
polite society had to doblissful
with the conduct of
unmarried men and women.

Strict adherence to these rules made a person ‘eligible’ for marriage —

Someone who paid little
or not attention to them
was likely to be consideredflirt
immoral, rude, and
a ‘bad’ potential match.

One of the more common conventions
involved a requirement
for single men and women
to be “formally introduced”
before they could interact.

This formal introduction
could only be made by
a friend of the family,
or relative–

A young man would be
vetted by a girl’s father and
mother before they could
even speak to each other
in a social setting.

flirtationcardAs you can imagine,
this made meeting
new people very difficult
for Victorian age singles —

….. but, of course,

as with anything,
there were ways
around it.acq16

The “Acquaintance Card”
was one interesting approach…

— sometimes called a “Flirtation Card”,
“Invitation Card”,
or “Escort Card” —

They were similar in some
respects to the ‘Calling Cards’
of the era,

But, they were usually
written and produced
in a more
witty, florid and
informal style.

Containing bits of poetry,
droll verse,
comic wisdom, etc.,

And, occasionally,
you’ll even see one
with a humorous
double entendrea1
that makes one
wonder about the
propriety of it all ….

Making love hasn’t changed
all that much over the years,
and the parlor was mostly
just a euphemism, after all.

dogandrifleThe cards were used mainly by bachelors to introduce themselves to ladies of interest not of their
previous acquaintance…

–without following
the strict rules governing
such things,

and hopefully —cards

–without violating
or offending
her Victorian-age
sense of etiquette.

Not that her parents
would have approved,
of course,

— but the lady in question’s
response was the one with
which the giver was most concerned —

All issues of formal introduction
for the family’s sake could be
managed once her acquaintance
and acquiescence were acquired.

It was a rather sticky
wicket , though …

retrunThings could get out of hand for either or both party,

in any number of ways —

— since this was obviously a detour around the proper, socially prescribed path.

So, to protect the lady’s reputation,
escortand perhaps the health of the sender,

— the cards were usually handled in a rather clandestine manner —

A card could easily slipped
to the lady in a parcel or
letter, for instance.1

But it wasn’t uncommon
for them to be presented personally,

in an off-hand, casual manner that perhaps
belied the somewhat
more serious interests
that the cards implied.

I think modern collectors
are often charmed by the
innocent humor and
charm of the cards,

….. without spending
a lot of time
thinking about the courting
conventions of the era which
produced them…

harryAnd naturally so,

I guess, since many of them have been lost to history.

These cards were part of that history —

By this very cautious
but lighthearted means,

— many Victorian and Edwardian
age singles became acquainted
and eventually married —

Among other stuff,icu
of course.

Your Great-Great Grandfather
may very well have made a
successful pass at your
Great-Great Grandmother
with one of these cards,
for all we know.




If Lovin You Is Wrong

(Memo from the
legal beagle office
of the
Muscleheaded Blog)

to all the V-D
haters out there:

While it is technically a
Muscleheaded Felony

to dislike Valentines Day,
and the fines are quite severe,
I have personally consulted
with counsel about your situation,
and we will give you
in exchange for having to put up
with at least 3 more VD posts
that are still coming
down the pike on
this here blog.

please try to get in
the spirit of the thing,

as society itself hinges upon your cooperation,
and you’re going to be expected
to both read and comment
upon any and all posts on the subject in future.

buck up buttercup.

Thank you.

We now return you
to your regularly scheduled program,

—- now in progress.



My friends ,

I know I’m probably going to be drivin’
you plum crazy
with Valentines Day
stuff, but I just can’t
help myself, man.

— it’s beyond a doubt
a favorite holiday of mine, and I always
enjoy posting
about what it’s all about.

If I only really knew.


You can call it love, sure.
Or lust, sure.

Or romance, sure.

Or a combination thereof …
hell, that’s even better.

But, if there’s one holiday
that plum confuses us men
more than any other one,

It’s Valentines Day.

You ladies out there
have it easy on this holiday,
— because you know exactly cuffs
how to make your men happy—

But, we men don’t want
poems or poseys —
(but it does start with a ‘P’… )

you can put your head back
in the gutter now, if you want… )


Just give him something that’s
got anything to do with you naked,

…..and you got the ideal present.

Give him a naughty pic
with a dirty message,
and he’ll lust …

( I mean… ) …selfie
LOVE ya forever.

But for us guys…

that’s another story –

’cause women are complicated creatures….

with complicated wants, needs and desires…

Oh sure, it’s easy enough
to go out and order a
couple of the $59.99 specials
on long stem roses,

……. and the genericok
“Hey- you’re ok with me” Valentines Day cards.

It’s when you’re tempted
to get a little creative
that the trouble starts.

‘Cause there are all kinds of rules
about Valentines Day that no one
has bothered to explain to us…..

and I’m not sure even
WOMEN really understand…….

I’ll give you an example.

vaI have this friend who decided to do something nice for his special lady last Valentines Day…..

now, she was a BIG fan of lovemaking – a BIG FAN – and she was wearing this ole boy out….

(……. and he obviously never read my blog on supplementation for keeping the yang up…)

…… he figured why buy her flowers-
when he could sorta make an ‘investment’ –

he would get her something special,
that might take the ‘heat’ off a little…….

…….. so he went out and spent
about 300 bucks and bought her
this high-tech “love lounger” – – sybian

it’s this thing that has all kinds of attachments and vibrating parts and protruding items of all shapes and sizes…..

ummm hmmm…

well, it’s year later ….

he’s only gotten to see her 6 or 7 times since then,

and she has bought a SECOND ONE of these gizmos in the meantime….

bzzzzz……….. bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…………………..


6footRule Number UNO:

—- whatever you get her , no matter what you do –

don’t make yourself redundant.

Just ask yourself –

is she gonna like the present more than she likes YOU ?

If you insist on buying a sexy present,

I recommend getting something SAFE-

something you can both enjoy –twsiter

maybe a sexy board game……….

hey, what red-blooded American girl doesn’t like a nice and lively game of Twister?


…………. blue circles .

Okay, maybe a food item.

candyOoooo, I know….

…….. some candy hearts with secret, subliminal messages.

Stuff you might not be able say with words,

……… can still be said with the tongue, ya know.

and, if she has a sweet tooth….


frenchDecisions, decisions.

Lingerie might be a good bet.

It’s certainly true….

… the old male maxim…

That there’s not a woman in the Universe,

who doesn’t look sexier in her undies…..

……………. but again, it has it’s pitfalls.

Like the man said, don’t free-overtime yourself out of a job.

damianaHmm… ok…

How about some exotic Booze?

You know,

… there are several types of alcoholic concoctions that are thought to
have aphrodisiacal qualities ……

….. like Bois Bande from the Virgin Islands………

(well, they were Virgins once…..)

or Damiana Liqueur from Mexico,

or my favorite …… ABSINTHE. absinthe

This is the stuff all those French artists went ga-ga over at the end of the 19th Century…..

and it’s got quite a reputation……

A good bottle of Absinthe can make all your V-D dreams come true.

Valentines Day, that is.

hey –

they didn’t call that guy Too-Loose Lautrec for nothing…….

(yeah, I know……………..
NEXT ! )

maybe candy IS safer—

Assuming, of course,
that it sends exactly the message that you wish to send—

Mistakes can be more than inconvenient, at times.

when it comes to this kinda thing…

It’s very much like Christine McVie sang:
” If we can’t be lovers, then we can’t be friends —
and I got some pretty wicked ways to get my revenge. ”

Words to live by, my friend.

Now, you’re probably just gonna get her a card.

But, you have to be careful about what you say in a Valentines card –
Things can get misconstrued quite quickly,

especially if you don’t know the lady that well,

and you’re trying to rectify that…….

The wrong choice of words,
or an incomplete explanation
can cause all kinds of linguistic and rhetorical difficulties.

See, that brings up another problem….

Valentines Day presents all kinds of temptations
to move a little too fast,
before you know a lot about a person….

Your Valentines Day card could be writing checks
that the rest of you ain’t ready, willing or able to cash……….

renoUnless ,
of course,
you’re just one of those one-stop-shop kinda guys.

And then…..

Well, I know a place
where you can get yourself hitched, inked and blotto
all in one convenient location.

Ahhhh, Reno.

hoosegowAnd you thought
it was only a dump with ten dollar hookers.

you really should think this one completely through.

I mean,
I hate to disappoint you,
but the course of treatment
you’re gonna need after your trip to Reno
is gonna cost you much more than 10 bucks….

Even if you just go for the bad ink,
quickie wedding,
and three day drunk route.

Ya know,
that $59.99 special on roses
is looking like a pretty good deal after all …..

HOY !!!


Thanks to Jen at Blog It or Lose It
for the 2nd and 3rd images,
and George Petty for this last one.


What The Butler Saw

You’ve probably noticed
the occasional “Mutoscope”
cards that have been posted
here from time to time
on the Muscleheaded Blog….

And you might have
wondered just what
the heck a “Mutoscope”
was, anyhow.

Mutoscope was actually
a trade name name of
a large company in Chicago-butler
the American Mutoscope

….who originally made an
early motion picture device,
similar to the Edison Company’s Kinetoscope, using flip cards on
a ‘Rolodex’ sorta wheel, to
simulate motion.

The wheel would hold
about 800 cards, but
would only display
for a few seconds,

… to see the whole
‘movie’, you’d have to
continue to put in coins.

I’m pretty sure that
you’ve seen the kind of
thing in museums
and some older arcades —

You put a coin in the device,
you turn the handle, a light
turns on inside, and you look
down into a viewfinder.

The most popular title back
in Great-Granddaddy’s day
was called:
What the Butler Saw ” —

—  a series of scenes
featuring a Victorian
Age lady undressing in1
her bedroom as if
seen through a
keyhole —

( at right, you can see
one of the more ‘explicit’ scenes from this vintage set )

which, when viewed by
contemporary standards
would be considered
very mild, even trite,
as far as pornography goes,

……………. but at the time
was extremely racy, indeed.

In fact, the short Mutoscope’s
suggestive title became a
catch-phrase to describe
the whole genre.

I love these things–
I’m absolutely fascinated
by them.

Not that I didn’t know
that those stuffy Victorians
got naked, exactly,
but that
they actually got turned on
by the thought of a pretty
lady doing it.


These things got so
popular, they were soon
found almost everywhere —

….. and were being made by a number of different companies
in a number of different formats.

Not all of them showed m3
risqué material, either —
far from it .

Most were completely mundane —
like cartoons, news films,
travelogues, etc……

But there were a number
of devices that, while not
containing actual salacious

( and sometimes not
even a ‘moving’
image, but a
picture card
or a diorama )

….. would have a ‘come-on’ sign
advertising something very
confidential and prurient–
(using the old PT Barnum rule)

IF one would only put
in a coin to see for themselves.

Like this one-
The sign advertises
” Very Naughty ”
” Strip Poker ” –
put your coin in,
and ‘ voila ‘ –


The joke would then
be revealed —
——— usually an innocent view,
some kind of pun or
a play on words.

for a penny….

Not a bad price to enjoy
a laugh on oneself, I guess.

I remember one from
my childhood that was
in the corner of this
old candy store —

escoIt said:
on the machine,

….. and when you
slipped in a nickel,

( hey, even I’m not old enough
for the penny version )

…………….. you got a magnified
view of a living ant farm.

By the 1920’s, the whole genre of
coin operated gizmos were being
called “Peep Show” machines —midgetmovie
and they were usually found
in penny arcades.

The flip card format
was especially
good for displaying
still images slowly –

So, more and more machines
were set up to show 12
images for a coin —
– timed at 3 second intervals.

This was used for all kinds
of materials, views of a city
for instance, or humorous cartoons….

…..  and came to be called
“Exhibit Cards”.

But the most profitable
ones displayed Pin-Ups.

Sure, there were cards for sports,
comics, fortune telling, movie stars, flowers, and patriotic themes, (just about anything!),
but the ‘girlie’ ones , especially
those featuring Pin Up Art,
were top draws.

The cards for these machines
were done by artists who are
now considered to be past
masters of the Pin Up genre —

…….. including Gil Elvgren, Zoe Mozert,
Rolf Armstrong, Earl Moran, etc.

a2The pin-up exhibit cards were soon also finding a marketplace outside arcades, at news-stands, in magazines …..

And especially, in vending machines, selling them individually, or in series.

Their popularity hugely increased once World War II broke out….

Every serviceman had at least one set of these, it seemed.

Two major companies were marketing the majority of the cards, Mutoscope, and Exhibit Supply Company,

….. although today, most people
just generically call them
“Mutoscope Exhibit Cards”.exhibit

The cards had a very distinctive look then, and now,

……and most are easily identified,

because of their ethereal colors and simple, airy design  —

— printed, as they were, to display just as well under the lights and magnification of a Mutascope machine,

………… as to hold in your hand and view them up close.

Usually, they had some kind of legend, pun, or title that was vaguely relevant to whatever position or activity the pin-up girl was engaged in —

………..  well known titles of individual Pin-Up Exhibit Cards included:

Disturbing Elements ” ( Gil Elvgren ) disturbingelements

Hit the Deck
( Zoe Mozert )

I’ll Say So
(Rolf Armstrong)

Visibility Perfect
( Earl Moran )

Jutht My Thize
( Howard Connolly )

Anchors Aweigh
( K.O. Munson )

Up to Par ” ( Edward D’Ancona )

Red, White and You
( Billy DeVorss )

Would You?
( Earl Christy )

Air Minded
(Mable Rollins Harris )

Total Eclipse
( Haskell Coffin )

Shoulder Arms
(G.C. Orde )

Sailor’s Sweetheart
(Hy Hintermeister)

Keep ‘Em Flying
(Vaughan Alden Bass )

All told, there were at least
10 sets of these Pin Up
Exhibit Cards printed in
the early 1940’s —

……… or, about 500
cards in all, although some
were repeated
over several sets.

Unfortunately, many of these
wonderful vintage cards
have no signature,

………….. and we can only guess
who created the artworks contained on them.

The cards fell out of favor
after the War, as many servicemen returned and
settled down to domestic life —

Sexy returned to
being something
out of the social mainstream…
taboo and undesirable
for the ‘new prosperity’.

And even the greatest
pin-up artists
of the time were pressured to
‘tone down’ their more risqué
work for peacetime printing
applications — calendars, advertising, etc.

During the Eisenhower years,
pin-up girls were often pictured
wearing knee length garments,
with prim and proper posing,
and the cards with girls in
wispy lingerie again became
hard to get novelties.

it seems society’s
blue-noses always find
a way to piss on one’s
parade, it seems.

Not that a little ‘coyness’
once in a while can’t be
sexy, too, I guess.

Either way —
we still have these
vintage cards to
enjoy, right ?

!!! HOY !!!!