America's Wish Book

The Sears catalog is not just a potent sales tool. It is America's family album. When the 1897 catalog was reprinted in 1968, 150,000 copies were sold at $15 each. "One can find evidence of our present vices and our present virtues in this splendid volume," wrote Journalist Richard Rovere. "This catalog is at once a product and a display of our culture, especially our mass culture." This summer 12 million copies of the fall-winter edition were sent free to customers who had ordered at least $30 worth of merchandise in the past six...

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