Trade Catalogs Helpful Resource Material
Old trade catalogs are ideal for dating collections. They are also a useful source of background information.
The earliest catalogs had woodcut illustrations. Most of those still in existence are only found in museums. (Even then, old paper tended to be recycled.) Button makers and clockmakers were probably the first to utilize the trade catalog.
Trade catalogs were fairly common by the 1850s, and their use reached its peak in the late 1800s. They were the sole visual image of a range of goods available to many prospective purchasers. Consequently, they were often printed to the highest possible standard, on good quality paper, rather than on newsprint with only black ink.
They reflected the fashion trends of the day in everything from toys and clothes to some of the new “modern” gadgets.
Their value is difficult to pin down, but in general, if the items they portray are highly collectible, the price tends to be higher. This is especially true of they are publications of a well-known firm, such as Currier & Ives, or a famous department store, such as Macy’s.
Also commanding high prices are old auto merchandise catalogs and some depicting sports paraphernalia, especially those dealing with fishing.
Return to Index