The History of The Saturday Evening Post, Part 6: The Flourishing Fifties

The 1950s brought Americans peace and prosperity, ideals that were reflected in the pages of the The Saturday Evening Post.

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Featured image: Cover by John Falter from April 21, 1956 (©SEPS)

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  1. This ’56 opening cover shot foreshadowed the eventual, insurmountable dark shadows television was already casting, even well before then. I was very shocked to learn here in 1950 the Post only netted $6 million from a gross of $150 million. It happened, but I don’t fully understand how; it’s so outrageous. The issues through 1960 seemed to very robust, with the thinning only becoming evident or apparent in 1961.

    Collier’s, the Post’s closest competitor went from a weekly to a biweekly in 1953, but was shut down at the end of 1956. Since Look was also a biweekly, they “incorporated” features of Collier’s into it, starting in ’57 and took on their subscribers sending them Look for the duration of whatever time was left, and/or extending their Look sub if they received both.

    There was also a strange circulation war going on between LIFE, Look and The Saturday Evening Post around 1959 & ’60. Part of it had to do with increasing newsstand sales. LIFE had increased its cover price from 20 cents to 25 cents in late ’57, only to drop it to 19 cents from May ’59 through 1960, then raising it to 20 cents in Jan. ’61, until it went up to 25 cents again in early 1963. Confused yet?! I am, because none of them should have been raising their circulations and costs when less ad money (due to TV) was coming in to offset increasing costs, including postal.

    In another oddity regarding Look, it increased its cover price from 35 cents in 1966 to 50 cents from 1967-1970, only to lower it AGAIN to 35 cents in January 1971 touting “New Lower Price!” with the 35 cents very visible on the cover, away from the date. It was shut down that October. 50 years exactly, next month.


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