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Montgomery Ward Catalogue of 1895 (Dover Pictorial Archive) Paperback – Facsimile, August 1, 1969


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Product Details

  • Series: Dover Pictorial Archive (Book 57)
  • Paperback: 648 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications; Facsimile edition edition (August 1, 1969)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486223779
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486223773
  • Product Dimensions: 11.6 x 8.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #99,760 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Tea gowns, bleached damask, and yards of flannel and pillow-case lace, stereoscopes, books of gospel hymns and ballroom gems, the New Improved Singer Sewing Machine, side saddles, anti-freezing well pumps, Windsor Stoves, milk skimmers, straight-edged razors, high-button shoes, woven cane carpet beaters, spittoons, the Studebaker Road Cart, commodes and washstands, the "Fire Fly" single wheel hoe, cultivator, and plow combined, flat irons, and ice cream freezers. What man, woman, or child of the 1890s could resist these offerings of the Montgomery Ward catalogue, the one book that was read avidly, year after year, by millions of Americans on farms and in small towns across the nation?
The Montgomery Ward catalogue provides one of the few irrefutably accurate pictures of what life was "really like" in the gay nineties, for it described and illustrated almost anything that anybody could possibly need or want in the way of "store-bought" goods. In fact, in that pre-department store era, it was usually the only source for such goods. Imagine if Montgomery Ward had issued an illustrated catalogue in the days of Louis XIV, or Elizabeth I, or Charlemagne: what insights would we have into the daily life of the "common folk," the farmers and shopkeeper, housewives and schoolchildren . . . what sources of information for historians and scholars, collectors and dealers, what models for artists and designers.
In 1895, Montgomery Ward was the oldest, largest, and most representative mail-order house in the country. The brainchild of a former traveling salesman, it issued its first catalogue in 1872, a one-page listing of items. By 1895, the catalogue, reprinted here, had grown to 624 pages and listed some 25,000 items, almost all of them illustrated with live drawings. Montgomery Ward was by then a multi-million dollar business that profoundly affected the American economy; and since it reached the most isolated farms and backwoods cabins, its effect on American culture was almost as great. Now once again available, it is our truest, most unbiased record of the spirit of the 1890s.
An introduction on the history of the Montgomery Ward Company and its catalogue has been prepared especially for this edition by Boris Emmet, Ph.D. (Johns Hopkins), a foremost expert on retail merchandising. His monumental work Catalogues and Counters has long been recognized as a landmark in the study of American economic history.

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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See all 10 customer reviews
You can lose yourself for hours reading about life "back in the day."
Rosemary Thornton
This wonderful book is a reprint of the 1895 Montgomery Ward & Co. catalogue.
Kurt A. Johnson
Just looking through the pages of books you could order was enlightening.
Lawrance Bernabo

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Chrijeff VINE VOICE on October 9, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Like the Sears Roebuck catalogue, which sits beside it on my shelf, this unabridged reprint is an indispensable tool for anyone who wants to know the kinds of items that might have been found in a typical middle-class home a hundred-odd years ago. In some ways it's even superior: the illustrations have reproduced more clearly, with their details better visible, and the type, though you may still want a magnifier to read it, is also more easily made out. Prices are of course included, though you'll want to allow for the fact that MW was at that time not a conventional retail house, but confined to mail-order, which allowed it to undercut the "traditional" merchants just as Net sellers can today! There's a full index right at the front, where you can easily look up whatever you may be interested in at the moment; or you can simply open the volume at random and start browsing. And, unlike Sears, it even has a toy section! Like all Dover books, its paper and binding are superior in quality, and will doubtless last very well. Since the items listed don't duplicate exactly, I strongly suggest purchasing both catalogues. As a writer of historical fiction, I use both frequently. Highly recommended.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Lawrance Bernabo HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on November 8, 2002
Format: Paperback
This "Montgomery Ward & Co. Catalogue and Buyer's Guide" from Spring/Summer 1895 is better than a time capsule. Most of my ancestors were still on the far side of the Atlantic that year, but for my maternal grandfather's ancestors here are 25,000 items (most of which are illustrated by woodcut) that they could have either had in their homes or dreamed about owning. From straight-edged razors and high buttoned shoes to tea gowns and the New Improved Singer Sewing Machine. Historically, Montgomery Ward prided itself on being the friend of farmers and the official supplier to the Grange. Ward was the first to offer a product guarantee that became the key to earning the respect of rural consumers and building the business. However, in 1887 Ward's main competetior Sears put out his first catalog and upped the ante by showing the customer what they would be buying before they bought it (okay, he also offered lower prices). By the time this 600-page catalogue came out in 1895 Ward was following suit. Flip through it and see what sort of amenities were making their way out to the farms at the end of the 19th-century. You could buy a buggy for $60 or spend $200 on a piano. Here you can get a bathtub, chairs, watches, hats, and even a Star Raisin Seeder. How about a solid-gold eighteen-karat wedding band for only $5? Looking through these pages will give you a sense what it was like in 1895, when the average worker had to put in 16 hours to earn enough money to buy a hair brush or 260 hours for a one-speed bicycle. Just looking through the pages of books you could order was enlightening. Actually, this is more like a time machine than a time capsule.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Rosemary Thornton VINE VOICE on January 26, 2006
Format: Paperback
I've given away several of these reproduction catalogs as gifts and they're always a big hit. Instantly, the recipients open the book and start studying its pages, remarking at the prices and oohing and ahhing over the more curious items of the day.

This book gives a detailed and accurate picture of a typical "day in the life" 110+ years ago. Think about that for a moment. Can you really imagine someone looking at a 2005 newspaper in the year 2,110?!

Buggy whips and patent medicines and cook stoves (fired by kerosene, wood or coal!) and portable bathtubs and cream separaters and more were featured in this catalog.

This is a wonderful resource and a fun read. You can lose yourself for hours reading about life "back in the day."

A little trivia: There's a story (as told on PBS's documentary, "Mr. Sears' Catalog") that the Sears Roebuck catalog was a tiny bit smaller than the mail order catalog offered by his competitor, Mr. Aaron Montgomery Ward.

Sears (a marketing genius) knew that the farm wife would probably have both the Sears and Ward's catalog in her home. Sears made his catalog a little narrower and shorter than the Ward's catalog, so that when the little lady was tidying up the house, the Sears catalog, being smaller, would end up stacked on TOP of the Ward's catalog!

Rose Thornton

author, The Houses That Sears Built
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By David Johnson on March 5, 2011
Format: Paperback
This, coupled with the Sears catalog from 1897, offer just incredible insights in to late Victorian society. Domestic history is incredibly fascinating to me, and these two books especially offer a peek at the past in ways that traditional history texts don't. The range of products available is stunning, and in some cases quite a laugh. Some of the medicines to cure "women's problems" are quite mysterious. If you are interested in domestic life at the end of the 19th century, this should be in your library.
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Format: Paperback
This wonderful book is a reprint of the 1895 Montgomery Ward & Co. catalogue. Everything is there, along with the pictures for each item, looking just the way they did more than one hundred years ago! My family and I had a high old time thumbing through this book, laughing at the funny styles of clothing, the strange items our forbearers needed (or thought they needed), and generally being amazed at the prices. This is quite a fascinating book to read, one I recommend to any history buff!
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Montgomery Ward Catalogue of 1895 (Dover Pictorial Archive)
This item: Montgomery Ward Catalogue of 1895 (Dover Pictorial Archive)
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