When Mickey Wore Gloves

As unforgiving as this year's outlook is, the prospect of a prosperous selling season was even dimmer 49 years ago, when Sears, Roebuck & Co. published its first Christmas catalogue. In that Depression year, unemployment was almost 25%, and the Sears "wish" book carried the blue eagle of the National Recovery Administration on its cover. The dollar as we know it today was worth $7.58.

The catalogue, 88 pages mostly in grim black and white, in contrast to this Christmas' 648 pages nearly all in color, was reprinted by Sears as a promotion. Then, as...

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