March 20, 2011

What A Book!: 'Catalog - The Illustrated History of Mail-Order Shopping'

Hello, everybody! Today I want to tell you about a terrific book I discovered. Whilst poking about the shelves of our local Border's book store, I stumbled upon 'Catalog - The Illustrated History of Mail-Order Shopping' by Robin Cherry. I tell you, this gem of a book is FILLED with wonderful examples of mail-order consumer products, and it is a visual pleasure to be sure!

"In 'Catalog - The Illustrated History of Mail-Order Shopping', Robin Cherry traces the timeline of these snapshots from American history and discovers along the way how we dressed, built and furnished our houses, worked, played, and got around. From corsets to bell-bottoms, from baby-doll dresses and Doc Martens all the way to iPods, the history of these catalogs is the history of our lives and our culture."

With a book like this, you hope for more images than text, and, fortunately, this one really delivers! And guess what? I selected some of my faves to share with you. I'll bet you didn't see that coming...

Montgomery Ward, 1930
Men's Flannelette Pajamas

Boy, they must've felt REAL manly
wearing their "flannelette" pajamas.

Sears, 1928
Women's Hats

Ladies, measure your
head size carefully...

Sears, 1971
Men's Body-hugging Underwear


J.C. Penney, 1974
Women's Polyester Bell-bottoms


Sears, 1959
Erector Set

Consult your physician if you
experience any toy creation
erect longer than 4 hours.

Sears, 1958

Be a doll, would you?

Johnson Smith & Co., 1940
Novelty Toys and Masks

Holy crap, that Hitler mask
gives me the willies!

Sears, 1961
Play Kitchen

Now, get in there and fix my dinner, bitch!

Sears, 1971
Shag Bath Carpet

All this talk about "pile" makes
me have to use the toilet...

Sears, 1961
Aluminum Xmas Trees


That'll do it for this edition of 'What A Book!'. I sure hope you had as much fun as I did. But if you didn't, well, lighten up, would ya? See you next time...


  1. Great.
    Another book I feel I absolutely must have.
    Thanks a lot, Anthony.
    Love, Heidi

  2. Wow, the python and leopard print men's under... "garments" or whatever those are... That's priceless. Also love the absolutely hideous bell bottoms, the shag carpet which must quickly reek of pee, and all the rest. Excellent. You're right, too, about "flannelette" seeming less than manly. And the Hitler mask is terrifying.

  3. Omigosh! I totally want this book! And a gray day like today is the perfect day to flip through its pages and step back into a bygone era. That gold was such a popular color in the 70s, maybe 60s, too. But gold underwear? Umm...pass. But I wish I still had my cool bell bottoms. I especially love the old toy ads. And those Clara Bow hats! Stylish, smart & sassy! I've got to have one to wear to critique!

  4. What a terrific find. Could see spending the day gawking at that book, oh wait, will gawk at your blog instead - it looks like more fun than finding a Hitler mask under your Aluminum tree on Christmas morning! Am your newest follower.

  5. Thank you, DearHelenHartman!
    I'm glad that you're enjoying my circus, and it's always nice to have a new Captivated Spectator! I hope you continue to enjoy the show... :)


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