Wednesday, February 6, 2013

WWD Co., Novelty Catalog (PT. 2)

The last half of the World Wide Diamond Co. mail order novelty catalog contains another 14 pages of wildly ridiculous, MUST HAVE junk! Yes, as you will see, this stuff was meant to train you from an early age on how to trick your friends, and then later when you get older to possibly join up with the Masons or some other prestigious type cult! I am left with many questions of my own, i.e. How many variations on the finger injury trick exist? What is The Secret of the Blond in the Bath Tub-- and how does it differ from the Mystic Mummy? Do the love potions really work? How many people got their lights knocked out by an unappreciative, sans sense of humor type victim of pepper gum, trick beer, bitter cigs, etc? The world may never know...

job by Mr. Cavin!


Mr. Cavin said...

More awesome pages (I think I like the Whistling Boy / Tita the Frisky Monkey page the best--or maybe that one with the ghastly rings). Thanks again! These things are hella fun to color in.

KL from NYC said...

They have the Fighting Scotties, but no Compass In A Rubber Truck Wheel??? Both of those were often in vending machines in the 1960s (in highway chain restaurants and at airports) along with a comb & case and some other not-so-neat junk -- 25 cents in the early-60s, then 50 cents in the later-60s (and the prices were considered high).

Two things that lead me to believe that this catalogue is pre-1960s:
It was illegal to send cash through the mail (some bottom panels ask for money, stamps, or a money order), and it was illegal to sell push-button switchblades (but that may have been just in NYC -- not that it stopped people from getting them).
I don't think there were any COD deliveries in NYC by the 1970s, but I don't know about Chicago.

Mr. Karswell said...

>I think I like the Whistling Boy / Tita the Frisky Monkey page the best

Can we expect another colored page then, Mr C?

>Two things that lead me to believe that this catalogue is pre-1960s

Well it could be, but the guy I got it from said it was early 70's... although obviously a lot of the art elements in these ads probably goes back to possibly the 50's (or even earlier) and were just endlessly recycled over the years.

KL from NYC said...

...maybe early-70s considering some of the prices, but those wig styles seem pretty outdated (a Page-Boy hair extension?).
But they could have kept things in the catalogue until they ran out of stock. That's probably why there was no date on it.

KL from NYC said...

I found something at Wikipedia:
"Switchblades remain illegal in U.S. interstate commerce since 1958 under the Switchblade Knife Act (15 U.S.C. §§1241-1245)."
The same info was at a couple of other places I checked, too.

A mail-order catalogue would probably be considered "Interstate Commerce."

Crafty C said...

i love those page boy extensions! i wonder if they really worked or just looked like you had a hairy ring around your head?

i also always wonder about the size of a lot of these things - like those 3 love books and the junior accordion.

man i love looking at this stuff. :)

Brian Barnes said...

@Mr. Cavin: Good job with the coloring!

@KL: The switchblade thing worried me, too, as I knew they were illegal, but what I'm going to guess is happening is they aren't really switch blades. If you push the button, they probably pop out a little, but not fully open, which would weasel in under the regulations.

@Kars: You're probably making a joke, but both the mummy and the blonde look to be the same trick -- i.e., magnets pop them out if they are in one position but not the other (by them having differently poles on different sides, and you turn them around.)

This brings up another question about this catalog: what was the audience? I mean, a lot of stuff would only interest young kids, but some of it is relatively adult. There's a small cross-over age, but by the time you care enough for girls (notice it's all straight male titillation), I don't know how interested you'd be in the squirting pen gag. I might be really mistaken about this, because they certainly made a lot of money.

I'm old enough to want Fatima :)

KL from NYC said...

The major audience for most mail order catalogues was low-income and retired people. (Catalogues like Lillian Vernon carried some of these items.) I would never be surprised to see a senior citizen wearing X-Ray Specs as a joke.

The Love sachets and perfumes, and the cheap hair dye were probably aimed at gullible adults, and the hair pomade and illustrations for eyeglass frames appeared to be aimed at blacks.

Maybe Karswell can tell us where this catalogue was advertised?

Mr. Karswell said...

As mentioned in the intro to the part one post, I remember seeing ads for this guide in comic books... the thing you guys are not seeing are the boring pages I did not scan of rings and wrist watches that make up the entire other half of this catalog. A strange mix of gag gifts and lo fi bling... possibly these catalogs were aimed at people looking to get all of their Xmas shopping done via mail order for their cheap ass relatives.

Crafty C said...

oh man, i would have been geeked beyond belief if my stocking was full of this stuff!!!!!!!

Mr. Cavin said...

Thanks, Brain!

Nothing more than anecdotal evidence, but my grandfather was very much the audience for this kind of thing, at least he was when I was growing up. He was sort of a good time guy, late forties early fifties, into hanging with the rest of the scoundrels down at the bowling alley pool room--and he ate this prepackaged humor type stuff right up. He certainly spent a lot of time entertaining me with the like. He was the kind of guy who bought rubber tomahawks at Gatlingberg or pet rocks or key chain-sized Round Tuits; he loved Stuckey's and Spencer's and we'd spend hours at Myrtle Beach magic shops.

Yeah, he was awesome.

Mr. Karswell said...

Your Grampy sounds a lot like me, Mr C! I just bought a rubber tomahawk last week...

Carol: be careful what you wish for!

Drazen said...

I think the Whistling Boy and The Adoptive RIte Ritual of Order of the Eastern Star would sit comfortably on the same shelf. These would be awesome stuffing stuffers for sure. Too much fun.
And that is a great colored page Mr. C!

Mr. Cavin said...

Thanks Drazen! I like the wig twins in the bottom row. They remind me of Henri-Georges Clouzot's abandoned L'Enfer.