Back in 1909, the Sears and Roebuck and Co. Catalog advertised on the cover as being the cheapest supply house on earth with trading around the world. Practically anything was available on order from the company based in Chicago. In later years, even an entire house kit could be purchased in several different styles.
Not only was the catalog sent to most homes, once orders were placed, the catalog served a most important purpose with prominent use in the privy or outhouse. These were the days before toilet paper.
Fourteen karat gold pocket watches ranged from $13 upward with silver watches as low as $2. A 14K gold wedding band was $1.44. A 1/2 carat diamond 14K gold ring sold for $47 to $66. The 26-piece silver plated flatware set, purchased in a case for storage, sold for $3.42.
Home furnishings were very reasonable it appears, although money and wages were very low. A good carved wooden tall table clock was available for about $2.50 and up for more ornate designs. One hundred piece sets of china were available for $4 and up. An oil or kerosene lamp with chimney could be purchased for 35 cents. Pianos ranged from $80 to $138. Organs were very popular for the parlor back in the day with prices for those for the home from $24 to in the $50 range for models used in churches. Banjos were $2.45 to $19.65. Buggies ranged from $26 to $39. Shotguns ranged from $9 to $30. Twelve-gauge shotgun shells sold for $1.32 per 100. Leather baseball gloves ranged from 82 cents into the $4 range.
Hearing horns (early hearing aids) sold for around $1. Graphophones (early music players) ranged from $8 to $45. Many played waxed reels or wax records. A man’s work shirt sold for 38 cents. Women’s leather shoes sold for about $1.50.
Chairs went from $1.75 to $11 with leather. A wooden sideboard for a dining room ranged from $10 to $35, which was very elaborate. A buffet sold for $9 to $20. Parlor tables went from $1.20 and up. A bedroom dresser ranged from $5.35 to $21.50. Iron beds ranged from $1.30 to $12.95. Iron baby cribs listed for $4 to $5. An early washing machine fetched $5 to $7. A Burnett typewriter was advertised for $22.95.
A complete set of blacksmith tools listed for under $40. An enamel steel range (stove) sold from $22 to $31.
All sorts of cures and concoctions ranged from 25 cents and up touted to cure heart ailments, blood ailments, catarrh and other disabilities. Nerve and brain tablets listed for 35 cents. Lots of tonics, hair potions and early cosmetics including face powder and rouge were 10 cents and up.
The thing that was missing from the Sears Catalog I remember during my lifetime was toys. Most things in the catalog for 1909 were items necessary to furnish a home or farm. It is interesting to see how things available to purchase have changed as did prices through the years.
This was written by Susan Exley of Historic Effingham Society. If you have photos, comments or information to share, contact Susan Exley at 754-6681 or email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.