Last night I was catching up on a few missed episodes of Jimmy Fallon and during one interview he stopped to reminisce about the Sears and J.C. Penney catalogs of his childhood. How he would “fold over corners of the pages of things that they wanted.” Leaving these catalogs around the house with folded pages was a subtle hint that would almost surely ensure that your parents would see the gifts you desired.
You may learn a thing or two that you didn’t know about the Sears Catalog during this quick overview.
Richard Sears illustrated the cover of his 1894 catalog declaring it the “Book of Bargains: A Money Saver for Everyone,” and the “Cheapest Supply House on Earth,” claiming that “Our trade reaches around the World.” Sears also knew the importance of keeping customers, boldly stating that “We Can’t Afford to Lose a Customer.” He proudly included testimonials from satisfied customers and made every effort to assure the reader that Sears had the lowest prices and best values. The 1895 catalog added eyeglasses, including a self-test for “old sight, near sight and astigmatism.” At this time Sears wrote nearly every line appearing in the catalogs drawing upon his personal experience using language and expressions that appealed to his target customers.
The total page count at the time was up to 88 pages. In 1896 though, things changed. Distribution of the catalog was becoming much easier. Because of this, the catalog transformed into two editions. One spring edition and one fall edition but the catalog also grew this year – to well over 330 pages.
For the next 100 or so years, the Sears catalog reigned supreme at holiday time. Eventually they started churning out a special Holiday edition, which to this day are claiming anywhere from $100 to well over $1000 a copy on Ebay and similar sites.
As the holidays descend upon us and we find ourselves in cramped rooms with family we rarely see, perhaps its time to reminisce over previous copies of the Sears Catalog Wish Book. You are probably thinking – who can afford to buy one on Ebay just for family fun? Well InkOnDaPaper has the solution for you. Ancestry.com has logged over 100 years worth of Sears Catalogs and have placed them all in a searchable database. Check this out CLICK HERE. This link is a pass through to the ultimate database of Wish books.
Sit down with your family and pull up a few old editions of the catalog. You are sure to find smiles and joy in looking back at the Christmas Presents of years past.
Unfortunately, the catalog is no longer in production. J.C. Penney however did revive a print edition catalog – you can read more about that HERE