Vintage Sears Catalogue
Last night, I was made to watch a horrible, horrible movie called Bad Girls. It starred a significantly younger Madeline Stowe, Drew Barrymore, Andie McDowell and Mary Masterson as four young prostitutes who did a runner when one of them decided to kill the Colonel.
If I made it sound like an okay-to-good movie that you should watch because the actresses were young and they were honky tonks…please do not let me mislead you. It was a horrible movie.
Anyway, in one scene Madeline Stowe’s character was trying to buy a dress. So the shopowner asked her what kind of dress she was looking for, and she answered: “Oh one of them ready to wear kinds like you see in the Sears catalouge.”
So I thought,hang on a minute…Sears catalogue? In the 1800s?
A quick Google research later informed me that catalogues and mail-order business has been around since as early as 1744 when Benjamin Franklin (!) produced the first catalogue selling scientific and academic books [source]
"Those persons who live remote, by sending their orders and money to B. Franklin may depend on the same justice as if present" -Benjamin Franklin in what could possibly be the world’s first mail order guarantee
The first Sears catalogue was published in 1888 and throughout the early 20th century have offered a dizzyingly vast number of products through this medium.
Women’s hat sold for as low as $1.49. A rough approximate of $1.49 from the 1888 is around $36 of today’s money. Considering how expensive milliners’ services are today, this actually sounds pretty good. -_- [Picture source: hatshapers.com]
Sears also sold bicycle for $8.95! Cheap, eh? But consider the fact that $8.95 in 1897 is around $248.61 in today’s money…which is roughly what we pay for a basic bicycle anyway.[Picture source: Road Were Not Built for Cars]
If you’re a closet weirdo like me, this is the best part of this entry: go here to view a huge collection of Sears’ Christmas catalog dating from 1937 (also in this site: Spiegel’s, Lord and Taylor’s, Ward’s, JC Penny’s etc).