Home / Pin-Ups / Alberto Vargas Esquire Calendar “Varga Girls”_OB [86]


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Alberto Vargas  1896 – 1982

Varga Calendar Girls

Calendars were published almost exclusively by specialty houses not magazine publishers.  Mr Smart, the publisher of Esquire Magazine, decided to test the market by publishing a calendar in 1941 using his new feature artist, Alberto Vargas.

Mr Smart’s objective was to promote the new “Varga Girl” and test their popularity.  The gatefold was replaced in the December 1940 issue of Esquire magazine with the 1941 calendar, it was also offered for sale by mail order.  The “New Yorker” magazine took note of the “Varga” pin-ups and in part said (Vargas) "could make a girl look nude if she were rolled up in a rug".  Kind of a backhanded complement coming from the “New Yorker”.  A better measure of success was for 25 cents each, Esquire sold 320,000 calendars.

It’s estimated that Esquire sold a total of 2,000,000 Varga calendars in seven years. For Mr Smart this was all profit, Vargas was only paid his normal salary and Mr smart laughed all the way to the bank.

Note:  The images of the “Esquire Varga Girls” posted below are small likenesses of Alberto Vargas paintings.  They do not have the detail of the original paintings or the correct coloring. Having never seen a Vargas painting, an Esquire magazine “Varga Girl” or any of the poster reproductions there is no way to accurately represent Vargas work. The coloring is only a best guess and what looks good, if they closely match the original Vargas painting it’s dumb luck, nothing more. OB

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