The U.S. Postal Service has been reliably delivering mail for more than 100 years. Have you ever wondered what people received in their mail one hundred years ago? Probably not, but this author has.
In 1907 a large percentage of the population could only purchase certain items through catalogs, there were no shopping malls or Internet stores. The Sears catalog may have been the best known catalog but hundreds of other catalogs took a long time to float from printer to potential customer to barbershop to outhouse.
Actually, public sewers were well under way in many areas back in '07. The list below hints at that fact and others. Roads and sewers required all sorts of equipment to complete. Many names we still recognize today were already peddling wares of one sort or another. The Stanley Rule and Level Company, Merck & Co., Selchow & Righter, and J.I. Case Threshing Machine Company still thrive to this day. The Oliver Typewriter Co. most likely became Olivetti. And so it goes.
The proliferation of catalogs related to agriculture was no surprise. The industrial age was just about to penetrate deep into the rural farmland of America. Of course there were clothing, shoe, toy, and jewelry catalogs, some things never change. Long lists of medications for man and beast were distributed by mail back then.
Have you ever heard of the Maxwell Briscoe Motor Company? You will be pleasantly surprised to see gas engines already in use in applications other than automobiles. Water wheels were still on the market but already carrying the name "turbine."
What follows is a selection from a list of 1,800 catalogs that the U.S. Postal Service delivered to homes and offices during the year 1907. The numbers relate to a longer list of catalogs found here.
See what other interesting things you can learn about life in 1907:
THE MAKING AND SELLING OF AMERICAN MANURE SPREADERS. (Detroit MI, 1907).
35. AGRICULTURE. Fairbanks-Morse & Co. FAIRBANKS-MORSE SMALL VERTICAL ENGINES. CATALOGUE No. 80 C. (1907).
72. AGRICULTURE. [Livestock]. Cincinnati Union Stock Yards. COLOR PRINTED ENVELOPE + TYPED LETTER ADDRESSED + THREE SAMPLES OF PRINTED TAGS. (Cincinnati OH, 1907).
167. ARCHITECTURE & CONSTRUCTION. Barrett Manufacturing Company. BARRETT'S BOOK OF BARRETT'S BRANDS. READY ROOFINGS, TARRED FELTS, COAL TAR PITCH, TARVIA, COAL TAR CREOSOTE, ROOF COATINGS AND PAINT, BUILDING PAPERS. (NY, 1907)., 32pp.
188. ARCHITECTURE & CONSTRUCTION. Economy Manufacturing Company. SOME EXAMPLES OF THE RECENT USE OF CONCRETE STONE. (New Haven CT, 1907) 18 leaves,
214. ARCHITECTURE & CONSTRUCTION. J.B.Prescott & Son. RUTTY STEEL WALL PLUGS. MORSE STEEL WALL TIES. PRESCOTT STEEL CORNER BEAD. (Webster MA, 1907)., 28pp.
293. ARCHITECTURE & CONSTRUCTION. The Atlas Portland Cement Company. REINFORCED CONCRETE IN FACTORY CONSTRUCTION. (NY, )., 252pp.
329. AUTOMOBILES. Maxwell Briscoe Motor Company. *THE MAXWELL. *AUTOMOBILE NECESSITIES. (Tarrytown NY & Boston MA, ). 32pp. & 16pp.
4O1. CLOTHING & FASHIONS. National Cloak and Suit Company. ANNIVERSARY SALE OF CLOAKS AND FURS FOR LADIES, MISSES AND GIRLS. NEW YORK'S LATEST STYLES AT BARGAIN PRICES. (NY, 1907)., 16pp.
485. ENGINEERING. [Municipal Waste]. Pacific Flush Tank Company. AUTOMATIC, INTERMITTENT FLUSH TANK SIPHONS WITHOUT MOVING PARTS.. FOR FLUSHING STREET SEWERS. (Chicago IL, ). 24pp
499. ENGINEERING. [Road Building]. Austin Manufacturing Company. CATALOG C. THE AMERICAN MOTOR ROAD ROLLER. (Chicago IL, [1907-08])., 32pp.
5O3. ENGINEERING. [Road Building]. J. I. Case Threshing Machine Company. THE CASE STEAM ROAD ROLLER. (Racine WI, )., 20pp..
644. GAMES & TOYS. Selchow & Righter. LIST 1906-1907. TRADE CATALOGUE. (NY, August 15, 1906). 112pp
658. HARDWARE. Draper Company Screw Department. SPECIAL SCREWS AND MACHINE PARTS FOR GUNS, SEWING MACHINES, TYPEWRITERS, ELECTRICAL INSTRUMENTS, ETC. (Hopedale MA, 1907)., 31pp..
839. JEWELRY. Sigler's. JEWELRY FASHIONS. (Cleveland OH, 1907 4pp..
913. MACHINERY. [Engines]. The Middletown Machine Company. FRICTION CLUTCHES FOR MIAMI AND WOODPECKER GAS ENGINES. (NY, ). 8pp..
947. MACHINERY. Nagle Engine and Boiler Works. CATALOGUE No. 60. ENGINES AND BOILERS. (Erie PA, 1907)., 82pp
985. MACHINERY. The Sandusky Foundry & Machine Co. DESCRIPTIVE CIRCULAR. FIG. 14. GENERAL SERVICE TRIPLEX SINGLE ACTING PUMP. (Sandusky OH, 1907). 8pp.
1O19. MEDICAL. [Pharmaceutical]. Merck & Co. MERCK'S 1907 INDEX. THIRD EDITION. AN ENCYLOPAEDIA FOR THE CHEMIST, PHARMACIST AND PHYSICIAN.. CHEMICALS AND DRUGS USED IN CHEMISTRY, MEDICINE AND THE ARTS. (NY, 1907). 472pp..
1O26. MEDICAL. [Veterinary Medicine]. Dr. A. C. Daniels Inc. HOME TREATMENT FOR HORSES AND CATTLE. DR. A. C. DANIELS' WARRANTED VETERINARY MEDICINES AND HOW TO USE THEM. (Boston, 1907). 132, pp.
1O64. MISCELLANEOUS. [Auction]. J. E. Conant and Company, Auctioneers. SWAIN TURBINE & MFG. CO., AT NASHUA, NEW HAMPSHIRE. THE BEST TURBINE WATER WHEEL KNOWN. (Lowell MA, 1907). 32pp.
1O96. MISCELLANEOUS. [Cemeteries & Undertaking]. Georgia Marble Finishing Works. *NUMBER 7. CREOLE BEAUTIES, BEING A COLLETION OF SPECIMENS OF MONUMENTAL MARBLE DESIGNS. *PRICE LIST OF REGAL BEAUTIES. No. 9. (Canton GA, 1907-09).; 16pp.
128O. MISCELLANEOUS. [Lumber & Logging]. S. C. Overpack. THE MICHIGAN LOGGING WHEELS. (Manistee MI, [1907,4pp
1371. OFFICE SUPPLIES & EQUIPMENT. [Accounting]. The McCaskey Register Company. DESCRIPTIVE CATALOG. THE MC CASKEY ACCOUNT REGISTER. (Alliance OH, ). 61pp.
14OO. OFFICE SUPPLIES & EQUIPMENT. [Typewriters]. The Oliver Typewriter Company. THE OLIVER TYPEWRITER. (Woodstock & Chicago IL, ).24pp.
1516. PUBLISHING. F.M.Lupton, publisher. GRAND PREMIUM LIST OF THE PEOPLE'S HOME JOURNAL FOR 1907. UNPARALLELED OFFERS TO SUBSCRIBERS AND CLUB-RAISERS FOR THE COMING YEAR. (NY, 1907). 8pp.
1561. SCIENTIFIC INSTRUMENTS. The Scientific Shop. CATALOGUE D. OPTICAL PARTS. TELESCOPIC OBJECTIVES, TELESCOPIC MIRRORS, EYEPIECES, TEST PLANES, PLANE PARALLELS, PRISMS, LENSES, ECHELON GRATINGS, INTERFEROMETER PLANES, ICELAND SPAR PREPARATIONS, QUARTZ PREPARATIONS, ROCK SALT PREPARATIONS, DIFFRACTION GRATINGS, MICROSCOPIC LENSES, PHOTOGRAPHIC LENSES, ETC. (Chicago IL, ). 48pp.
1572. SHOES. Daniel Green Felt Shoe Company. *ON A FELT FOOTING. 25th ANNUAL EDITION. SEASON 1907-08. *Ditto, TWENTY-SEVENTH ANNUAL EDITION. Season 1909-10. *Ditto, TWENTY-NINTH ANNUAL EDITION. SEASON 1911-12. Together, three catalogues. (NY, 1907-11). 28pp.
1588. SHOES. Regal Shoe Company. REGAL SHOES FOR MEN AND WOMEN. SPRING AND SUMMER. VOLUME XVII, No. 1. (East Whitman MA, 1907)., 48pp.
1618. SPORT & SPORTING. [Guns]. Francis Bannerman. SUPPLEMENT TO 1907 CATALOGUE OF MILITARY GOODS. (NY, 1907). 32pp..
1644. STOVES. Henry N. Clark Company. CATALOGUE OF SUMMER RANGES. BOAT STOVES. LAUNDRY STOVES. OIL HEATERS, ETC. (Boston, 1907). pp.
1723. TOOLS. The Stanley Rule & Level Company. CATALOGUE No. 34. A MECHANICS' REFERENCE BOOK CONTAINING U.S.STANDARD RULES, PLUMBS AND LEVELS, IRON AND WOOD PLANES, TRY SQUARES AND BEVELS, BIT BRACES, MITRE BOXES, SCREW DRIVERS, AND MISCELLANEOUS IMPROVED WOODWORKERS' TOOLS. (New Britain CT, 1907). 144pp.
1752. WATER & WATER SUPPLY. Jewell Water Improvement Company. PURE DISTILLED WATER. JEWELL H2O. (Chicago IL, 1907). 15pp.
1763. WATER & WATER SUPPLY. Pacific Flush Tank Co. VARIOUS INSTALLATIONS BACTERIAL SEWAGE FILTERS. SHOWING APPLICATIONS OF AUTOMATIC APPARATUS. (Chicago IL, ). 54pp.