Mail Order Nostalgia

My bedside reading looks like the drop off to a recycle center, with stacks of magazines and catalogs awaiting my attention. I have favorites, like Johnnie Boden, from which I will order baby gifts for two sets of newly arrived twins, and for me, a brightly patterned skirt and a pink sweater, as proof positive and spirit lifter that spring is but a few months away.

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New catalogs arrive several times a week, and their delivery elicits genuine excitement. From the way I behave, you’d think the year was 1930, I lived a rural existence, and Montgomery Ward’s “Wish Book” had just arrived.

Back then, millions of Americans shopped “Monkey Ward’s” catalog for items unavailable to them locally. Everything imaginable was offered, from full-sized bungalow-style homes (delivered as individual pieces requiring assembly) to Famous Broadway Records (5 for $1.49). While the larger catalogs showed over 10,000 items on 200 pages, there were smaller, seasonal editions as well, like this one advertising a summer sale Blog_Windsor Stove_Wards front cover [640x480]

During the 90-day sale, every item was priced at a savings double that of the regular price. With money scarce because of the depression, any savings was a good deal Blog_Windsor Stove_Wards fabric page [640x480]

And if one was in the market to upgrade an appliance, this was the time to buy. $59.95 during the sale, double the amount come September 1.

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The 1930 MW catalog is one of many in my collection of vintage publications. I’ve been working on a piece about the old catalogs and had recently looked through this particular edition, which is why this item in the February Country Living really got my attention.

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I just knew I’d seen it advertised in the MW catalog, and sure enough. Valued today at $2000.00, the original was featured in the 1930 summer sale catalog for $48.45!

Montgomery Wards Windsor ad black and white

The Windsor of 1930 would have been purchased when women knew how to use it up, wear it out, make do or do without. And what they did own was carefully tended.

The value of this immaculate antique stove in today’s market would flabbergast the original owner. Were she here to see her Windsor featured in CL and appraised at 40 times what she paid in 1930, her reaction would be one of those glorious Antiques Roadshow moments, and absolutely priceless.


Tie One On…an apron, of course!