Spencer Gifts, 1954
Spencer Gifts, long the ubiquitous merchant of weird gifts in malls across the country (such malls as still remain, anyway) once purveyed their gifts via catalogs like this 1954 edition.
On the front cover, for just a buck you could be the owner of a square foot of Texas, that seriously exotic state (There was a particular national fascination with Texas and Texans in the 1950s, from Neiman-Marcus to “Giant”). It says right there it’s “the most unique gift in the whole wide world” — who could argue with that?
Still, it’s the item on page 12 that was really mind-boggling – a live Mexican Burro, shipped straight to you. “Loveable…huggable…extra tame…about the size of a medium size dog.” Other catalogs sold dogs by mail – why not a burro?
Do yourself a favor and read all the copy on these ads – Spencer’s were masters of the enthusiastic hard sell: “They are the easiest pet to raise you ever had. You can keep them in the house (if you are good at ‘anticipation’) and can train them to do many things. We know a pair that were trained to bring the morning and evening papers to their owners.”
They really make it sound like these are just exotic puppies…until you get to the tiny type on the next page which points out they grow to weigh 200 pounds. Oh, and they have a lifespan of 25 years – but that simply means “You’ll enjoy their antics for years to come.” No doubt the neighbors will, too.
This particular catalog was postmarked to a Mrs. Anna McDowell of Doon Iowa. I wonder what the folks in Doon eventually ordered?
If they were smart, it was the shoe rack.