The History of a Catalog

Salesman's sample book 1784

1784 A salesman’s sample book (England). Four hundred sixty one fabric swatches arranged in an accordion fold book. Such book was a treasure itself, since all textile production techniques were a closely guarded manufacturer’s secret.


1811 “The Ackermann’s Repository” (England) was a monthly magazine reviewing the latest styles in fashion, interior decoration and furniture design. The magazine became popular because of featuring swatches of new fabrics.


1880’s “Child’s Wool Hats” – a page from a catalog published by Reinerth & Company (USA). Every hat has been skillfully engraved on a printing plate. 


1890 Tri-fold brochure/catalog published by Colchester Rubber Company (USA). Chromolithography technique made multi-color printing quite affordable. 


1910’s Forty pages “Color Plate Catalog” from California Perfume Company (USA). The screw-binding was quite innovative because it facilitated the easy removal of old pages and the quick addition of updated material – all accomplished without requiring the replacement of the entire catalog.


1930’s This book with fabric swatches shows a variety of colorful patterns available for women’s dresses (A.B.C. Fabrics, USA). 


1940’s “Everything for the Garden” published by  Peter Henderson & Company (USA). Just like in the 1920’s, the combination of b&w and color pages helped to reduce printing costs and increase circulation.  

Kitchen 1953

1953 “New Kitchen Designs for Living!” published by American Kitchens, Inc. (USA). 


1962 First published in 1951, the annual IKEA catalog was considered to be the main marketing tool of the company. Since 1962 IKEA began using large photos of real interiors as the catalog cover images. 


2013 By scanning selected pages in the printed IKEA catalog, you can view films and 360° room sets, and get to know the stories behind the products. New this year is the ability to place selected furniture from the catalog in your own room!

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