Cover Collection: What Keeps Us Up at Night

Whether it’s work, weltschmerz, or worm farming woes, we all experience insomnia about something at some point in our lives. Here are some of our favorite covers of the things that keep us up at night.


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Whether it’s work, weltschmerz, or worm farming woes, we all experience insomnia about something at some point in our lives. Here are some of our favorite covers of the things that keep us up at night.

Checklist for Summer Camp
Ben Kimberly Prins
June 24, 1961

While our young camper dreams of fires and “bug juice” (that favorite beverage of camp mess halls), mom is willing to forego a few hours of sleep in exchange for four weeks of boylessness. Tomorrow morning mom will be informed by her son that, while most of the paraphernalia assembled here by artist Ben Prins is okay, a camper has not more use for washcloths and a pincushion than he was for silk pajamas and an arithmetic book. Why, with the space they occupy her could make room for important stuff such as candy bars, a whittling knife, and, for a little fun after lights-out, his rubber snake and a package or two of sneezing powder.


Lightning Storm
M. Coburn Whitmore
March 22, 1958

Of course, the children haven’t been frightened by Papa’s snoring, but by the awful sounds of Nature on an electrical rampage. So mother will gather them in her arms and love away their fear. Coby Whitmore’s man of the house, buried there in the bed. must be the deepest sleeper this side of the proverbial log. How does she get him up mornings—rap on his head with the book?


Late Night Hat Check
Constantin Alajalov
April 13, 1957

We see by the cover that Mlle. Rosalie de Paris has unloaded on madam a chapeau avec beaucoup de flower garden topside. It is darling, madam is fully convinced. And if you think it is a malformed nightmare whose logical repository is the ash-can, you must be just a puritanical old fogy, for it is also regarded as a masterpiece by that great American designer, Monsieur Alajalov de New York. As for the character in the other bed, for once in his life he is noticing that his wife has a new hat.


Who’s Turn?
M. Coburn Whitmore
January 21, 1950

Who’s going to get up and give the baby her bottle and a new deal in underwear? Mom and dad dearly love their little alarm clock, but they do wish that babies came equipped with a lever by which they could be set, the night before, to ring at 7:30 a.m. instead of at one of the more unholy hours. Mom and dad will battle it out for a few more howling minutes to see which one will totter out of bed and do the honors.


Sunday Funnies
Jack Welch
December 20, 1947

Some years ago, Frank Kilker, an associate art editor, heard artists complaining about a fellow named Jack Welch, of Valhalla, New York, who worked for an advertising agency. Welch did sketches of proposed illustrations, for the guidance of the artists who would do the finished job. But the rough sketches were so good that it was tough for the artists to better them. Kilker looked Welch up, and Welch started doing illustrations for the Post, including this one—his first cover. In painting his picture of a father’s Sunday reveille, Welch was drawing on experience with his two daughters.


Nighttime Fly Fight
Russell Sambrook
July 23, 1938

We’ve all been there at 3 a.m. when a fly dive bombs your head or that invisible mosquito whines in your ear. Much has changed since 1938, but two things haven’t: that fly swatter and the fact that this guy isn’t going back to bed anytime soon.




Madam is remorseful about her own greed,” commented famed contract-bridge authority Charles H. Goren about the dilemma of the sleepless bridge player depicted by artist Constantin Alajalov. “It has dawned on her that withholding her ace of diamonds on the first trick, because she would have had to waste her singleton king, may have been penny-wise and pound-foolish,” said Goren. “If she had been satisfied with two diamond tricks instead of three, she could easily have made her game at three no-trump, by playing the ace from the dummy. She would then have been in position to take the important club finesse. But when she all too frugally won with the king in her own hand, she had no way to reach dummy without letting East in, and that character rudely led back the queen of hearts, so that Madam lost five tricks.”

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  1. In a few days, God willing,I will be eighty eight years old. The Post has been with me almost all the way. There is no way to express all of the joy it has given to my life.

  2. All incredible covers, of course! The timing is perfect because this Sunday is the dreaded ‘spring forward’ in the winter. Weltschmerz indeed. When it used to happen the last Sunday in April (until a few years ago) I only felt ‘thrown off’ for a day or so. Now it’s until—not surprising—late April. This feature reminded me to get to sleep an hour earlier NOW to hopefully fool myself.

    I appreciate all of the extra time and effort you put into describing the covers; especially the top and bottom. You pulled my leg (at first) with those names on Alajalov’s ’57 ‘hat’ cover. Oui, oui.

    ‘Lightning Storm’ is beautiful. I love the contrast of the pink against the colors of the wall, carpet and blanket. It’s also why John Falter’s 1955 Christmas cover is another favorite.


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