There is a gargantuan amount of fascinating history and anecdotal information shared in BedTimes magazine’s review of its long history. The inaugural August 1917 issue carried a count of 13 advertisers and a few years later came the publication’s first tagline–‘The Bedding Man’s Trade Journal.’
Above is the August 1925 cover, reflecting the first of several previous magazine names. As BedTimes explains, this was a landmark issue:
Each month, the cover text changed, but not the overall design itself until August 1925, when the magazine unveiled its first image-oriented cover. And it was quite an image—a moody illustration of a king sitting on a throne atop the world, two female figures forming the rough outlines of the United States and Mexico on the globe below him. There’s a night sky in the background, and a banner above the king’s head proclaims The National Bedding Manufacturer to be “dedicated to the sovereigns of sleep who rule the rest of the world.”
It is something to behold and, in fact, readers beheld it for a few years—it repeated monthly, changing only in terms of its coloration. In August 1927, the magazine removed the king of sleep from his throne and ushered in a more modern era of design, with a new front-facing photo or illustration each month. In 1931, the editors surprised readers with a holiday present: an illustration on the December cover by famed artist Norman Rockwell of Santa inspecting a globe in search of “good boys” deserving of gifts.
In the 1960s, the publication started getting especially creative with ad formats. For example, the July 1964 issue included a Jones & Laughling Steel Corp. insert advertisement that doubled as a 33 1/3 RPM record, with a bit by Jonathan Winters, Mike Nichols and Elaine May promoting “Measure Your Mattress Month.” And in a 1967 issue, Polyken Industrial Tapes included an actual physical specimen of their product.
Today, BedTimes magazine is free to mattress manufacturers and International Sleep Products Association (ISPA) company members. But back in 1917, it cost 25 cents an issue or $1.50 for a subscription year. To managing editor Beth English, editorial director Mary Best, content editor Barbara Nells and the rest of the BedTimes crew, we say Happy Anniversary and thanks for a thoroughly entertaining look back. The piece includes many more cover illustrations and advertisement samples from the archives, as well as even a few cartoons to boot! The ad below is from the February 1932 issue.