Simpsons-Sears circa 1963
If you close to my age you’ll remember those great Simpsons-Sears catalogues, full of all that great stuff we loved so much as kids but could never talk our parents into buying for us. Bicycles, transistor radios, record players, board games; all of it was contained within the numerous pages along with those spicy pictures of bras and girdles.
My neighbours, who have sold their house and are clearing out the junk before the big move, offered me a few circa 1947 Vancouver Sun newspapers and a variety of pre 1964 magazines. I grabbed a few newspapers and a single Simpsons-Sears catalogue from December 1963.
See the bottom of this post for all the full size images.
1963 technology included the Tower 8 mm. push-button movie camera with Power Zoom (isn’t that Abraham Zapruder holding the camera?). A paltry $119.95 or yours for just $8.00 per month, about half your earnings. You could also buy the Speedwriter full size portable typewriter with 84-character keyboard for $49.97 or the Argus 35 mm. slide projector complete with four 60-slide ‘long-play’ trays for $67.88. Nerds suffered from a lack of cool technology in the early 60’s.
I’m a guitar player and am amazed at the high price of this Special single pick-up electric guitar with Silvertone amplifier. This things looks like a serious piece of crap and was priced at a staggering $72.95 which is significant when converted to 1963 dollars (roughly $192,763.12). There’s also the swing-down record player for $71.95 (what’s with the weird prices?) or portable radios from $27.88 to $58.88. This stuff was so very cool in those days but now it’s the garbage we can’t give away.
Have a look at the toys offered for sale and compare it to what kids have in the twenty-first century. Lie Detector or High Gear board games, a Dick Tracy rifle for $6.49, talking puppets for $5.79 or Chinese checkers (are they allowed to call them that any more?) for $2.88. The folding ranch style doll bungalow with patented hinges and locks will keep your annoying sister quiet for only $9.99. Most of these games and toys required a brain, not necessarily required in the 21st century.
Remember those nasty toilet, sink and bathtub colours in the 1960’s. No wonder they almost dropped nuclear bombs on each other after doing the business while looking at this stuff. Migraine medication must have been quite popular in the sixties.
How about trusting your family’s life to these Quality Allstate Retread Snow Tires. These puppies were guaranteed for 15 months (keeping in mind we only have winter snow for about 3 days here in Vancouver) and would put you back the princely sum of $9.95 each or $10.95 if you wanted the Storm King. Who the hell wouldn’t want Storm Kings when your family’s safety is at stake? But then again, they’re a dollar more per tire.
Stuff for the early 1960’s media room. A 23″ Silvertone Hand-crafted (?!) chassis and Silverphonic sound cost a whopping $268.88. Remember we’re talking about 3 channels on this black-and-white piece of crap and the price doesn’t include rabbit-ears with tinfoil balls. There’s also the De-Luxe AM-FM Stereo Radio Phonograph for your swinging bachelor parties. or a 19″ Silvertone black-and-white portable TV with free stand (worth $9.95!) for $179.99. Try and compare this stuff with what’s presently in your living or media room. Do you love your flat-screen, HD PVR and surround audio system a bit more now?
Fashions back then were pretty cool (watch Mad Men for proof of that) and the prices were quite reasonable. The black dress on the right is actually pretty hot but I’m not quite sure if a Jersey Shift is a dress or exactly what the hell it is. This stuff is making a comeback due to retro tv shows and movies. Women looked great back then and very few sported nasty tatoos on their backs, legs or breasts, to say nothing of piercings. Ah…the good old days when women were women and sailors had all the tatoos and piercings.
Here’s where all that nasty furniture in the FREE section of craigslist came from. Check out the recliner in the middle for proof of how bad furniture colours could be back then. The swivel rocker on the top right looks like the same chair where the police found your uncle’s body in his mobile home with a TV dinner on his lap after nobody had heard from him for over 2 weeks. And doesn’t the washable vinyl ensemble at the bottom look like any of the St. Joseph’s Hospital waiting rooms?
Here’s the page that most of us young guys would spend an inordinate amount of time perusing, usually locked behind a bathroom door. This was the pornography of my youth and I probably lost my virginity to a nameless lingerie model in the Simpsons-Sears catalogue. Thank you nameless lingerie model, whoever you were. I owe you dinner and some flowers.
Back in 1963 my dad was making around $3 per hour, so that would convert to 24 or 25 hours of pay. A lot of money but I don’t think the average guy makes $19,000 for 25 hours of work, just musing . . .:)
Thanks for posting this. I want to order some of those items!! Esp. the vinyl furniture. Reminds me of my parents’ home.
Any info please…have a vintage simpsons sears acoustic guitar model number 26149…made in Japan. Also has faded logo on headstock that say Gibson…