The “Souvenir of Duluth” decorative pillow cover

It’s certainly no odder than the Pink Aerial Lift Bridge Dollhouse Toilet, but the Duluth pillow cover still qualifies as an oddity. I nabbed the image from an eBay listing circa 2018 and figured it was a one-off thing someone made, but then …

I noticed there is a current listing of a different version of basically the same thing.

Was the “Souvenir of Duluth” pillow sham a thing? I mean, were a bunch made and tourists could buy them at a trinket shop in 1982?

Below are the segments of the pillow, isolated for better view, with apologies for the awkward-at-best American Indian depictions. The term “squaw” was probably not intended to be derogatory by the pillowcase maker, and whether it’s historically offensive is debatable, but it is clearly considered derogatory today.

But wait … there was also another variation on the Duluth souvenir pillow sham, now marked “ended by the seller,” which certainly appears to have been created by the same artist.


Barrett Chase

about 4 months ago

These were a thing, not just locally but everywhere, from the 1940s-60s. Men would send them home from wherever the military positioned them.

Paul Lundgren

about 4 months ago

Interesting. I see the term "sweetheart pillow covers" used to describe them. Most of the info I can find indicates they tended to be sold at military bases and featured a poem to the recipient, the most common being a "to Mother" verse.

The Duluth pillow sham might be a post-war spin on the original concept. 

After the war, the country prospered and people loved to travel.  The pillow companies continued to produce their pillows featuring tourist towns or states for people to collect on their travels. 
-- Houston Home Journal
Then, in 1959, Alaska and Hawaii achieved statehood, and vintage souvenir pillows once again became a popular collectibles, as travelers were now able to venture to these faraway places faster and more affordably thanks to the fledgling commercial aviation industry. Bringing back a pillow bearing the insignia of one of the nascent states was as much a badge of honor for the traveler as getting his or her passport stamped. Other states soon followed suit, and the pillows were purchased as a symbol of pride in one’s home state, a vacation souvenir or as inspiration for a dream trip.
-- Cottages and Bungalows Magazine

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