Today marks the 139th anniversary of when Montgomery Ward published their very first catalog. Thirty-two years later, in 1904, the catalog weighed a whopping 4 pounds! Sadly the Montgomery Ward catalogs last publication was in 1985. While Mail Order Catalog Day (not Mail Order Catalog Printing Day like we previously had) falls on this date because of the influential Montgomery Ward catalog, catalogs have a history that dates back 100 years prior to Ward’s first catalog. According to the National Mail Order Association, Benjamin Franklin is believed to have formulated the first basic mail order concept when he produced his first catalog in 1774. In 1848, Alfred Hammacher started a business offering mechanics tools and builder’s hardware. In 1881 Hammacher offered his first catalog. Today the Hammacher Schlemmer is the oldest catalog still in publication.
I remember a time when people would have to order from a catalog if a strore didn’t have what it was that they wanted. I have very fond memories of looking through the Sears and Montgomery Ward catalogs during the Christmas season. I’m not sure if my parents ever ordered anything from the catalogs, but I always liked to think they had. Before my parents got the internet I would even make my mom call Bass Pro Shops so I could get a catalog, order a fishing lure, and get a free hat. There is just something fun about mail order catalogs. You are sure to always find something fun and different within the catalog’s pages.
I don’t get much mail other than the usual credit card offers. Today’s holiday has, hopefully, solved my lack of mail issue. As part of my celebration I decided I would subscribe myself to at least five different mail order catalogs. I’m starting to think that this may have actually been a bad idea, as I may now get more mail that I would prefer to get. I subscribed to the following catalogs: