Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Commercial Catalogs at the California Historical Society

"The comforts of home while on the road are assured to all owners of Mendel Wardrobe Trunks," customers of Cincinnati’s Mendel & Co. read in the tenth edition of the J. Prince Trunk Co. catalog. "No wearisome packing or unpacking. Everything in sight when you open the trunk and every garment accessible without disturbing any other garment.”



At home on the road At home on the road - The J. Prince Trunk Co., San Francisco, Cal. [Cover: Mendel & Co., Cincinnati catalog]- Publ.: Mendel & Co., Cincinnati [Edition 10]
“Commercial catalogs collection, California Historical Society, CC M 52.001”
The pages below depict the Mendel Make wardrobe trunk - "the best wardrobe trunk made" - in its closed position, along with a warning to avoid imitations that don't bear the company's triangle brand. "Demand our name plate and label as shown above," the company urged. A range of styles offered in this catalog ensured that every traveler could be "at home on the road."



The Mendel Make - Mendel Wardrobe Trunk [p.2 Mendel & Co., Cincinnati catalog] Publ.: Mendel & Co., Cincinnati [Edition 10]
"Commercial catalogs collection, California Historical Society, CC M 52.002”

At home on the road - The Standards of Quality [p.3 Mendel & Co., Cincinnati catalog] Publ.: Mendel & Co., Cincinnati [Edition 10] “Commercial catalogs collection, California Historical Society, CC M 52.003”


Hundreds of commercial catalogs dating from the 1850s to the 1950s are found in the collections of the California Historical Society. From gardens to farm equipment to terra-cotta tile, they offer a wealth of information to an endless variety of researchers: architectural preservationists, fix-it hobbyists, and landscape historians among them. Fun and quaint to the untrained eye, to those seeking real data or period observations about society, catalogs are the ultimate primary source.




Allen's Water Gardens, Los Angeles, Calif. [Catalog cover] Printed by: C. Wesley Denning Co. Los Angeles, CA
“Commercial catalogs collection, California Historical Society, CC AL 5.2.001”

For a complete listing of the collection, click here.

Shelly Kale
Managing Editor

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