Monday, November 15, 2010
When I cracked the cover of this book, I made a noise that I normally reserve for sporting events. That is because I realized I was holding a relic of American retail history - a 1932 wholesale catalog from the Fort Dearborn Watch and Clock Company. This 900 page catalog features jewelry, furniture, linens, accordions, luggage, candy jars, and just about anything else you can think of. It was intended to be set out on the counter at department stores for customer's to flip through and select from. Sister copies of this catalog are in libraries - they are extremely, extremely rare.
This book has enough material to fill the blog for over a year. Every page is outstanding and reveals so much about the time period. I took it to a local consignment shop to show my favorite lady, Susie, who was born in 1933 - the year after the book was published. I joked that I would like to buy all the rings and purses at the 1932 prices and she reminded me (rather somberly) that, at that time, the average American worker made $3 a week. So, buying a $30 ring was a big deal. Anyway, Susy and I looked through the book together and when we were done she said, "Just add two zeros to these prices, and you have today's value." I think she is just about right.