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Publishers WeeklyStarred Review.
In this fascinating and fully illustrated study, veteran direct marketer Cherry guides readers through the evolution of the catalog, defining its place in American commerce and culture. Starting with traveling salesman Aaron Montgomery Ward's revelation in 1872, Cherry charts the rise of direct-by-mail stalwarts like Sears, Hammacher Schlemmer, Williams-Sonoma and Neiman Marcus. Beginning at the turn of the century, customers could order all the blueprints and materials they needed to build their own home; more recently, Neiman Marcus set the standard for extravagant gifts in their annual Christmas Book: his and hers Beechcraft airplanes, Swarovski crystal-encrusted Mr. Potato Heads. Cherry packs her book with trivia and colorful characters like Erector set inventor A.C. Gilbert, but the main draw is Cherry's gallery of faithful, full-color reproductions from hundreds of catalogs, fascinating in themselves (the styles, the colors, the awkward copy) and sure to stir memories. A thick slice of Americana-women's underwear that comes with an Eddie Fisher, Perry Como or Elvis Presley record; the first home video game, Pong; a brightly-colored selection of "toe-inviting" shag bath carpet-this volume should set adult readers to page-flipping just like a kid with the new Toys R Us Christmas circular. 375 color and 125 b&w illus.
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