28 November 2011
Mail Order Monday: Burton By Post
Mail order was my birthright as a kid. Sears and JC Penny? Mere amateurs. Sometime in the late '60s, just after the Whole Earth Catalog made its splash, an understated book came out called, The International Catalog of Catalogs. It was nothing more than the world's best catalogs in one book.
Segmented by product type, like cooking or camping or apparel, it might have included the UK's version of Sears, Burton By Post as seen above. The magic of international mail order was not so much in the ordering but in the dreaming. That, and it was an insight into a country. The difference in clothes, cameras, slippers and underwear. It was an amazing trip to take.
I miss that. I know I have the world at my finger tips via the Web but it isn't the same. In a catalog, there was a story. I don't care if it was intended or not. It was there and I was a part of it. I was shopping in Manchester or Rome or Mexico City.
It was a pain. International money orders at Deak-Perera, shipping charges, stamps...But something beyond magical happened when the package arrived. Foreign stamps everywhere, with sevens crossed and custom forms stuck to brown paper. I saved it all. I still save it all.