Nowadays the dry cleaner bags I get are always clear, but until the 1980s they were usually printed with advertising. Even though the bags are flimsy and disposable, we often get donations come to the museum in old dry cleaner bags that feature colourful advertising and interesting graphics. I used to just throw them out without thinking twice, but then I realized that if we don’t document them, nobody will remember, so I now photograph all the bags that come in with donations and then thrown them out (they tend to be brittle or sticky, and filthy, so not keepable). A few years ago I photographed a mid 1960s bag that had a statement about not letting your child play with them – but these ones have no such warnings:
We recently acquired a prom dress from 1966 from the original owner complete with the original dry cleaning bag. Normally I throw those bags away without too much consideration, however this bag, although flimsy, had interesting graphics and a warning attached “Warning! To avoid Danger of suffocation keep away from babies and children. Do not use in Cribs, Beds, Carriages or Play Pens. This Bag is Not a Toy.”
I am reminded of an episode from Mad Men that shows Sally playing ‘spaceman’, while wearing a dry cleaning bag over her head. I don’t remember being warned of the dangers of playing with dry cleaning bags when I was a kid, although I don’t recall finding them all that interesting. However, this bag proves that by 1966 there were concerns.