Endless Entertainment – From an Old Vintage Catalog

The cover of the 1921 Sears Building Materials catalog has proven to be a source of endless entertainment for me. But then again, I’m pretty easily entertained. I’ve started scanning catalogs and ephemera so that it may be preserved and shared with a larger audience. And this website‘s traffic is growing every day. In May, this site had more than 22,000 visitors.

Read the captions below to see what *I* see when I look at this 1921 catalog’s cover.

Pretty darn interesting!

The cover

The cover of the 1921 catalog is so interesting for so many reasons.



We have the people showing up to look at the new house under construction.



Like the opening scenes of a low-budget horror flick, they have no idea that a massive elephant has surreptitiously blended into the landscaping behind them, and waits to pounce. Red arrow above is centered atop the forehead of the threatening beast.



"We just came from looking at those crappy little houses behind us," the man might be saying. "Over yonder is one of those little Sears kit homes." Pictured through this window is the Sears Ashmore, a classic Arts & Crafts bungalow.



"That's right," says the woman who wears a hat with a flared brim and oversized bow." The kitchen in that crummy Elsmore right behind me was abysmal."



The second man speaks up and says, "And that Verona was so blase! Who'd want to buy a cookie-cutter kit home when you can have something nice that you've designed yourself!"



"Yes," the man with the blueprints says, "We looked at those three little boxes behind us, but we want to talk to you about this nice house that you're building here!"



But oh no! These people shouldn't be turning to this fellow for help and guidance! He doesn't even know how to build a carpenter's tool box! How could he possibly build an entire home!



The house isn't even roughed in yet, and the door isn't set, and yet he's putting in the lath board! Plus, there are several puddles with a strange yellow substance throughout the house. Icky!



And some of that yellow stuff is on the carpenter, too!



And perhaps most interesting, the house featured on the cover is clearly not a Sears kit home. Sears never ever offered a house with these arched windows. So the homebuyers have turned their back on the three Sears Homes (behind them), and are talking to this fellow about a custom-built house. Pretty darn interesting. And this image shows a better view of that angry elephant in the background.


And yet, the back page of the catalog features an advertisement for Seroco Paint (first syllable of Sears, Roebuck and Company), and in that graphic, there are several Sears Homes featured.

And yet, the back page of the catalog features an advertisement for Seroco Paint (first syllable of Sears, Roebuck and Company), and in that graphic, there are several Sears Homes featured. Top is the Sears Sherburne, and along the bottom are the Sears Roanoke (two left) and the Sears Matoka (two on the right).

To read another article on Sears Homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

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  1. Dave Spriggs

    Now … let’s analyze the body language and other possible captions:
    The Builder (right): “And this is where I have placed your Man Cave, complete with refrigerator, wet bar, recliner, 60 inch built-in flat screen TV, and 1000 watt 10 speaker surround sound system.”

    The Husband (center): “Oooooo … look, Honey. My Man Cave. Just think how much fun I will have there.”

    The Wife (left, with the well-known “arms akimbo” posture of disapproval): “Are you men finished deciding what is going to be in my house? I can tell you right now. I don’t like it. I don’t like any of it. And you can forget about that Man Cave. I don’t want you spending all of your time in there avoiding the chores I have set for you. You had better rip up those plans and start over or I will go live with Mother.”

  2. Sears Homes

    @Dave Spriggs
    David, you’re probably right. I hadn’t noticed that her arms were akimbo until you mentioned it! She looks pretty miffed!

  3. ShariD

    Maybe in order to construct the “Man Cave” she just discovered that they did away with the space for her walk-in shoe closet?