Edit ModuleShow Tags

From the Archives: A 1949 Holiday Gift Guide

A peek into San Diego's gift-giving past—cigarette accessories and all!


Next year, San Diego Magazine—the oldest city magazine in the country—turns the big seven-oh. With an archive stretching back to its inception in 1948, we have access to a unique peek into our city’s past. A lot has changed in those 70 years—while other things, not so much. Gift guides, like the one in this issue, have been a holiday staple from the start. The December 1949 gift guide, poetically titled “New finds upon an old occasion,” included gems such as “loafer socks in almost all colors” ($2.95) and a “long playing record of Miss Liberty, with original Broadway cast” ($4.85). Today, accounting for inflation, those socks would cost $30 and the record just under $50. (Maybe that explains why people don’t buy records anymore.)

But perhaps the biggest culture shock for a reader of today is the number of gift ideas designed for cigarette smokers. The four-page feature lists eight gifts with the fashionable smoker in mind. It wasn’t until almost a decade later, in June of 1957, that Surgeon General Leroy E. Burney would declare the connection between smoking and lung cancer the official position of the US Public Health Service. In 1949, smoking was still very much a casual habit ingrained in all levels of society.

Among the unisex gift ideas is a “Moby Dick ashtray, molded to the palm of the hand” ($2). For him, a “Dunhill humidor of calf leather and wood for cigarettes, cigars, and tobacco” ($19.98). And for the special lady in your life, why not consider a “cigarette box and case of sterling silver from Bangkok, Siam” ($66 and $121, respectively). Siam had officially changed its name to Thailand earlier that year, but it seems like San Diego Magazine hadn’t gotten the memo just yet.

Some things that haven’t changed in the last 70 years? We still recommend jewelry for her and leather footwear for him. See all 70 of our picks.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Related Stories

The Pet Lover's Guide to San Diego

Living your best San Diego life with your pet by your side just got easier

From the Archives: 'Scuse Our French

San Diego's French cuisine was more classy than casual in 1976

Meet the Tastemaker: John Resnick

The owner of Carlsbad's Campfire restaurant shares his must-have items
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. The Best Burgers in San Diego
    These burgers are food critic Troy Johnson's finalists for the best in San Diego
  2. San Diego's Best Restaurants 2018
    Dig into the 260 winners defining San Diego’s food scene in 2018
  3. The Best of North County 2018
    Our annual list of what we’re loving above the 56, from bites and brews to shopping, wellness, and arts and kids’ activities galore
  4. Your 2018 San Diego Summer Bucket List
    Here’s our insider’s guide for Memorial Day through Labor Day
  5. The Coolest Things Happening in San Diego Beer Right Now
    A dive into the new, notable, and lesser-known in our city’s beer scene
  6. San Diego's Best Restaurant of 2018: The Finalists
    San Diego Magazine's Best Restaurants issue comes out in June. Here are food critic Troy Johnson's finalists for the best of the best.
Edit ModuleShow Tags


Vote Now for Your Orangetheory Winner!

Winners will be announced at our Sweat event on May 12

Not Your Grandma's Orthotics

New year, new – shoe? Staying on your feet for long hours at a time just got a whole lot more comfortable with Wiivv’s BASE custom insoles
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module

Connect With Us:

Edit ModuleShow Tags


AquaVie: 10 Reasons It’s Downtown’s Best Kept Secret

The best workout and spa getaway around? It’s actually right underneath your nose.

Enter a Drawing You Could Actually Win

There are more than 1,700 prizes in the Dream House Raffle
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags