Playboy Magazine December 1953 vol.1, no.1
December 1953... Click for larger.
Weight ≈ 143g
Cover Marilyn Monroe
Click for a larger image in a new window...
Marilyn Monroe
Sweetheart Marilyn Monroe from the  John Baumgarth Calendar Co., Melrose Park, Illinois taken by photographer Tom Kelly.
Pictorials Unnamed model swimming nude

Articles and Features

An Open Letter from California Miss Gold-Digger of 1953 by Bob Norman,
Strip Quiz (games)
Tales from the Decameron (fiction) by Norman Holland.
The Dorsey Brothers by Arthur Silver
VIP on sex (humor)
Love Affair by Bob Roderick,
A Horseman in the Sky (fiction) by Ambrose Bierce,
The Return of the All-Purpose Back (featuring Red Grange) by George Jennings,
Gentlemen, Be Seated. Desk Designs for the Modern Office.
I think most people would agree that this issue has a certain home made feel to it, which I guess only adds to it's charm.
Essentially it was - Hef doing much of the work himself. The paper stock is heavy and somewhat unusual, not at all what we are used to from modern magazines. Back in 1953 Hef had to keep production costs to a minimum so perhaps the chosen paper was a cheap option, then. I don't think it'd be cheap now, quite the opposite in fact.
This, the first issue, sold 54,175 copies at 50c each. Not bad for a new magazine with little advance publicity. How many of these are still around? Not many, though if you do want one they range in price from about £350.00 to £2000.00, depending on condition. Let me know and I'll keep a look out for one for you.
The original had 2 staples and a black square in the upper right corner. The reprint has 3 staples and a black rectangle in the upper right corner. Otherwise they are identical. The 20k reprints are not numbered.
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  Technically Marilyn Monroe was neither a Playmate nor a Playboy Centerfold as she was "Sweetheart of the Month" and her pictorial appeared on pages 16 to 18 rather than the center pages.
This cover image of Marilyn is not the greatest and would not pass muster as a cover image now. It was taken in Atlantic City on September 2nd 1952 at the Miss America Pageant while Marilyn was riding in the back of a car in her capacity as Parade Grand Marshall.- it may even have been moving at the time.
For the cover the background, buildings, photoghaphers and members of the general public have been removed, not digitally of course but in a darkroom., and - it's been printed reversed. It's possible therefore that the actual image on the cover is in fact a copy of a copy, of a copy, resulting in a degree of degradation.
Watch a video or view some more stills taken at the time.
The famous Marilyn Monroe "centerfold", also printed reversed in the magazine, was shot on May 27th 1949 in Los Angeles, just before she got her break.
Of all of the covers over the years there are few that rely solely on a black & white image. That is with no other graphics constituting the cover except content highlights. There's this one,  those of May 1973, July 1988, January 2007 although the earlier two both have a slight sepia tint and the June 1993 cover of Anna Nicole Smith photographed by Daniela Federici.
Marilyn also appears, September 1955 and many more issues..
44 pages of period adverts, pin-ups, fiction and articles with lots of quality photographs and illustrations.
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