Mr Jalopy has posted a delightful rumination on the mail-order catalogs he's discovered on his yard-saling adventures, spurred by the publication of the fabulous-looking Catalog: The Illustrated History of Mail Order Shopping (a book I really want to lay hands on!). Astute Boing Boing readers may have noted just how much similarity our layouts bear to old Sears and Whole Earth catalogs.
While it is knee slappingly funny to gawk at the shag bathroom sets of the 1970's, the richest bounty lies in the early catalogs from a time that the Sears catalog really meant something. Before the interstate highway system and the internets tube system, the Sears catalog was a profoundly important and optimistic source. It was a catalog of empowerment. One day, you are Joe Nobody, without a fiddle or an egg for breakfast. Weeks pass and it must have seemed like a miracle when that new fiddle, kerosene-fired incubator and careful wrapped fertile eggs arrived in the mail. A community event, I suspect.
Having used inflation calculators, I have compared the 1932 prices of the everything from screen door hinges to chore jackets. Selvedge denim dungarees from North Carolina mills were the equivalent of $25, while bicycles were terribly expensive. Of course, the world changed. Labor, materials and container shipping have shifted business so radically, that it is a testament to Sears that the doors are still open.
Catalog: The Illustrated History of Mail Order Shopping,
Mail Order Catalog Brilliance
F Scott Fitzgerald, in a 1928 letter to Blanche Knopf: "As ‘cocktail,’ so I gather, has become a verb, it ought to be conjugated at least once." (via JWZ)
Vlad Taltos is the (anti)hero of Steven Brust's stupendous, longrunning fantasy series (which is nearly complete, a generation after it was begun!); Issue 220 of Dragon magazine (August 1995) included a feature by Ed Stark explaining how to play the human assassin and witch who lives amidst a race of nearly immortal elves, against whom […]
The inaugural Heavy Metal Knitting World Championship were an unqualified success, with competitors from the US, Russia, Japan and beyond converging on Joensuu, Finland to thrash and knit: competitors such as Woolfumes, Bunny Bandit and 9" Needles thrashed to heavy metal music while knitting, for an audience of about 200. The winners were the five-person […]
With the rising temperatures on tap this summer, the climate is going to be a frequent topic of conversation, and those conversations won’t be happy ones. Luckily, there’s a way to do a little climate change of your own – in a safe and sustainable way. When it comes to personal air conditioners, EvaPolar is […]
Whether you’re using them for next-level selfies or steady tracking shots, gimbals are a must for anyone who wants to maximize the potential of these powerful smartphone cameras we’re all carrying around. But those smartphones are also supposed to be portable, and let’s face it: Gimbals tend to offset that advantage. Weighing in at just […]
It’s too hot for yard sales, but hey: The internet is here for you. Here are the top ten deals on some of the Boing Boing Store’s best gear, just in time for summer. It’s everything from grills to security cameras to MacBook Pros, and they might be as low as they’re ever going to […]