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Collection Exhibition Themes
Ward's Catalog cover
Currently on display
From the Smithsonian Collection
This catalog cover illustration shows that Ward's was acutely aware that most purchase decisions that a couple or family might make from the catalog were joint decisions. So marketing approaches for all products had to appeal in one way or another to both genders - for example, stressing both style and economy was important.
Physical Description
Catalog cover, from Warshaw Collection
Date Made:
Warshaw Collection, NMAH Archives

Ordering goods by mail from a catalog became increasingly popular in the 1880s. The Chicago firms of Sears, Roebuck and Company and Montgomery Ward and Company were mail-order giants.

Through their catalogs, retail marketing became truly national, reaching customers in tiny rural communities as well as in cities. The catalogs included almost any product imaginable, from a toy to a plow to a dress to an entire house in kit form.

Delivery was by mail or by the Railway Express Agency. In either case, the product came long-distance by train, perhaps locally by truck.

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