Sears Special Sale Bulletin, 1918
Wristwatches and diamond jewelry from 100 years ago – items that Antiques Roadshow would happily appraise for you today, undoubtably for more that the prices pictured here (which topped out at $12.75).
This catalog of special bargains is undated, but based on a Silvertone Victrola-style phonograph pictured on one of the other pages, almost certainly dates from 1917 or 1918. Which makes the “Wrist Watch” a very state-of-the-art timekeeper. Men’s wristwatches were a new development, spurred on by war and the need to keep tabs on the time without having to fish out a pocket watch. As the copywriter put it, “The practical watch for the practical man.” Wristwatches really took over the market when Johnny came marching home after World War One, and by 1930 were outselling pocket watches 50 to 1.
If you’re not in the market for a watch, how about a diamond ring for a mere $10? Granted the gold is 14 carat, and the diamond is 1/8 carat — well, almost. Zoom in to read Sears’ remarkably-honest fine-print copy — you’ll find they admit that most of the diamonds are actually a little smaller than that, but “some scales hardly show the difference.” It must have been the same copywriter who described the rugs on the catalog’s front cover as “Fairly good grade.”
How can you argue with that? Certainly the handsome young couple in the delightful woodcut-style illustration seem pleased with their purchases.