Historical significance of catalogs recognized

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Here’s a story for all you catalog lovers. There’s a new exhibition of 145 mail-order catalogs dating from 1874 through 1956 at the Enterprise Center of Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, Louisiana, that runs through October 3. It’s called “The Art of Commerce: American Mail-Order and Trade Catalogs, 1974-1956.”

On display are an 1874 Butterick’s dress-pattern catalog and a catalog from 1956 that promised to teach consumers how to turn concrete into gold by making garden statuary. There’s also a chronological survey of beautiful artistic catalog covers. If you can’t make it to Louisiana, click here to see a few of the covers.

The exhibition seeks to raise awareness of the cultural and historical significance of catalogs by encouraging historians to incorporate a broader cross-section of them into their studies and by making the general public aware of their significance.

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