Friday, December 1, 2017

Learn about the Solar System with Swift's Space Travel Guide

When we last encountered our intrepid heroes at Swift's Premium, way back in 2012, they were pitching us on the merits of "Party Giving with Meat Power," which basically involved a lot of Very Bad News for chickens, pigs and cows.

Now we have this nifty guide to travel within the Solar System, which was among Mom's things. Swift's Space Travel Guide — produced in 1958 by Specialty Advertising Service Inc. of New York — is 4½ inches wide, if you include the slight bulge for the circle that holds all the rotating planetary information.

In addition to a snazzy illustration of a rocket, the front includes windows in which you can learn the astronomical sign, maximum surface temperature, distance from Earth at closest approach and period of revolution around the sun for each of the planets, plus the moon.

Mom's name is written across the top of the front and back. And there has been a lot of doodling on the various sections of the wheel. As you can see, there are a pair of dog heads next to Pluto. Mercury has a thermometer doodle, Venus has a heart with an arrow through it, the moon has smiley faces, and Neptune has a pair of tridents. Very clever!

I thought it would be interesting to compare the 1958 scientific estimates on Pluto with today's known numbers.

  • Maximum surface temperature: THEN, -348° F; NOW, -369° F
  • Distance from Earth at closest approach: THEN, 2670 million miles; THEN, 2660 million miles
  • Period of revolution around the sun: THEN, 248.43 years; NOW, "about 248"

Meanwhile, the back of this Solar System info card compares the size of the other planets to Earth. It also offers the obligatory advertisement for Swift's Premium products, the meat that made this educational material possible. The copy states: "OUT OF THIS WORLD recipes on the back of every package. GET INTO SPACE ORBIT with .... Satellite Surprize, Interplanetary Delight, Supersonic Sandwiches or Space Snacks."

On the wonderfully named and long dormant blog "Doc Atomic's Attic of Astounding Artifacts," Doc Atomic wrote the following about this item in 2009:
"All in all, this is a great little premium from a time when kids still considered science and space exploration cool. Yeah, it's educational -- but it's also the type of thing that a young Flash Gordon or Buck Rogers or Tom Corbett would drop in his pack, along with his Space Phones and ray gun, before running out to play with his friends."


  1. 1. I tend to overuse the word fabulous; but this is FABULOUS.
    2. I want to make Interplanetary Delight (unless it involves shredded coconut or anchovies). Heaven Forbid should it include both.
    3. I want every single raygun on "Doc Atomic's Attic of Astounding Artifacts"

    1. Thanks! I had a hunch you might like this one, what with rockets and some retro action. I'd like need the tofu version of Interplanetary Delight, given what Swift's Premium likely has in mind. .... And we're in agreement on Doc Atomic. What a treasure that website is. I hope it doesn't fade completely away.