I Dreamed I Saw the Silver Space Ships Flying

By Richard Sheaff

Songwriter Neil Young, like many of us, grew up during intense worldwide fascination with rockets and satellites and space-ship-thinking in the 1950s and 1960s. Space travel fantasy had become quite popular in the United States in the 1930s with the exploits of Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon, and in the 1950s with Jim Corbett, Space Cadet. All along, science fiction books explored interstellar possibilities, as did magazines like Amazing Stories and Popular Science. But widespread space travel imagery really took off (sorry) with the successful Russian launch of the Sputnik satellite and the major powers’ space race that ensued. Related images sprang up everywhere.

Russians nationwide launched a space propaganda blitz, starting with Sputnik. Russian space vehicles, genuine and fanciful, were featured on all sorts of ephemera including postcards, Christmas cards, New Year cards, birthday cards, and shortwave QSL cards. There are hundreds of different ones to be found out there in the ephemera universe . . .

The United States, of course, responded in kind . . .

Cover of a pad of paper . . .

The naming of automobile models (and the adoption of tailfins and other flying/rocket features . . . this was also the era in which jet airplanes came into their own) . . .

Greeting cards . . .

“Don’t miss out on a great new hobby”, rocketry . . .

This elaborate modern card opens to reveal a robot (there is yet another fertile collecting area) walking down the gangplank . . .

And other countries certainly got into the act . . .

An atomic /space-age divided child’s plate