NATIONAL MAIL ORDER CATALOG DAY
What was once one of the most popular ways of shopping is remembered each year on August 18th as it is National Mail Order Catalog Day.
This day marks the anniversary the first Montgomery Wards mail order catalog. On this day in 1872, Aaron Montgomery Ward of Chicago produced a catalog designed for direct order via mail. He aimed to remove the middleman from the business of buying and selling. As a result, he drastically lowered prices.
The very first catalog consisted of an eight by 12-inch single sheet of paper. On it, Ward included the merchandise for sale, price list, and ordering instructions. Before long, the Montgomery Wards single-page list of products grew into a 540 page illustrated book selling over 20,000 items.
It didn’t take long for enterprising merchants to copy Montgomery Wards’ idea. One notable merchant, Richard Warren Sears, mailed his catalog in 1896. As others entered the field, catalog sales grew. By 1971, catalog sales of major United States firms exceeded more than $250 million in postal revenue.
It’s interesting to note, according to the National Mail Order Association, Aaron Montgomery Ward wasn’t the first to conceive of mail order catalog. In the United States. Benjamin Franklin may have formulated the first basic mail order concept. He produced a catalog to sell scientific and academic books. Franklin also receives credit for offering the first mail-order guarantee: “Those persons who live remote, by sending their orders and money to B. Franklin may depend on the same justice as if present.”
Today, mail order catalogs have been replaced with internet websites. Additionally, the term “mail-order” has been replaced with the term “online shopping.”
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NATIONAL MAIL ORDER CATALOG DAY HISTORY
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