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Catalog History
  ⋅  History of the "Wish Book"
  ⋅  History of the "Big Book"
  ⋅  Catalog chronology
Catalog Q&A
  ⋅  Does Sears buy old catalogs?
Does Sears sell old catalogs?
Where can I find old catalogs?
When did Sears begin 
distributing the catalogs?
When did Sears stop 
distributing the catalogs?
Will Sears give permission 
to reproduce catalog pages 
or images from its catalogs?
Current Online Catalogs
& Internet Sites
Wish Book & Specialty Catalogs
1888      The R.W. Sears Watch Co., the first catalog issued by Richard Sears featured watches and jewelry.
1889 Evolution of the company involved various catalogs including "The Warren Company" and the "A.C. Roebuck & Company." Catalogs produced for these companies.
1893 First Sears, Roebuck and Co. catalog.
1894 Catalog expands from watches and jewelry to include sewing machines, sporting goods, musical instruments, saddles, firearms, buggies, bicycles, baby carriages, and some clothing.
1896 • Spring and Fall catalogs began.
• First specialty catalogs appear.
• Size of catalog increases from 6x9 inches to 8x11 inches.
• Groceries introduced.
• Hand cranked washing machines introduced.
• Encyclopedia Britannica introduced.
1897 • First color section appears. Features shoes in black, brown and red.
• Edison’s Graphophone introduced.
1904 Customer Profit Sharing program begins. Customer purchases are rewarded with a Profit Sharing Certificate, which was redeemed for selected items.
1905 • "Iowazation" plan begins, Sears asked customers to distribute catalog to friends and neighbors.
• School desks introduced.
1907 Customer Profit Sharing discontinued.
1908 Catalog homes introduced.
Richard Sears retires from company.
1909 Sears motor buggy introduced.
1910 Electric washing machines introduced.
1911 Sears Testing Laboratory begins operating.
Sears "Auto-cycle" motorcycle introduced.
1912 Silk stockings introduced.
Motor buggies (cars) discontinued.
1913 First specialty catalog for automobiles.
1914 Private Electric Lighting Plants introduced which provide electricity for the home or farm.
1916 Sears "Auto-cycle" motorcycle discontinued.
1925 First retail store opens.
1927 First of two Norman Rockwell paintings that appeared on the cover of Sears catalogs. The painting is on the Spring cover and features a couple looking for engagement rings.
"Satisfaction Guaranteed or Your Money Back" banner appears.
1928 Craftsman tools introduced.
1929 Kenmore laundry equipment introduced.
1930 Mail order chicks introduced.
1931 First and only year a paid advertisement appears in catalog. Two advertisements, one for Chevrolet motor vehicles and the other for the Curtis Publishing Company.
1932 Second of two Norman Rockwell paintings that appeared on the cover of Sears catalogs. This painting was titled, "At Work on his Washington Essay" which was made for the Washington Bicentennial.
1933 First Christmas Catalog.
1940 Easy Payment Plan introduced. An early buy on credit program.
1941 Sale of groceries discontinued.
Sale of items such as Coldspot Refrigerators and Silvertone Radios discontinued for the duration of the Second World War.
1942 Allstate Insurance company offers war damage insurance.
1948 Silvertone wire recorder, radio and phonograph entertainment system introduced.
1949 Television sets introduced.
Homart dishwasher introduced.
Silvertone hearing aid introduced.
1957 Automatic electric garage door opener introduced.
1966 The Sears Allstate Radial tire introduced.
1968 Phrase "Wish Book" first appears on Christmas catalog.
Diehard batteries introduced.
1969 Catalog selected as part of time capsule in Texas.
1971 Kenmore trash compactor introduced.
Kenmore Microwave oven introduced.
1985 Split catalog idea begins. Catalog split between soft lines, which are offered in Spring and Fall, and the Hardlines, which only are in one catalog.
1989 Toll free 1-800 number introduced.
1993 The "Big Book" catalog was discontinued. The Specialty Catalog Group was formed.
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