quirky vintage catalogs
March 11, 2009 7:24 PM   Subscribe

A Crooked Gambling Supplies catalog from 1960, a 1914 Cyclopedia of 5,000 Puzzles, dozens of magic posters from the '20s to the '40s, and more fun ephemera from Old Catalog's flickr sets.
posted by madamjujujive (15 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

Good lord, the artwork from the 1944 Johnson Smith catalog looks just like it did in the 1970's when I got those catalogs. There was something just so wonderfully crappy about Johnson Smith catalogs that Archie McPhee or Stupid.com have not been able to capture.

Thank you for a fine post and more proof that the world, is indeed, a wonderful place.
posted by marxchivist at 7:34 PM on March 11, 2009

Link to 1944 Johnson Smith catalog here.
posted by marxchivist at 7:36 PM on March 11, 2009

Sam Loyd's Cyclopedia is directly downloadable here.

Great post.
posted by cog_nate at 7:36 PM on March 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

I've gotta say, the prices are very steep in 1960 dollars. $45 bucks for fake cards- comes to $304.87 according to my cursory search for an inflation calculator.
posted by mattoxic at 8:03 PM on March 11, 2009

Neat, D&D dice.
posted by cj_ at 8:08 PM on March 11, 2009

mattoxic: my thoughts, exactly. Pricey.
posted by bz at 8:10 PM on March 11, 2009

$45 bucks for fake cards...

I think the price includes the "Fucking Cheating Scumbag" tax.
posted by turgid dahlia at 8:23 PM on March 11, 2009

Worst DM ever.
posted by xorry at 8:25 PM on March 11, 2009

I've gotta say, the prices are very steep in 1960 dollars. $45 bucks for fake cards- comes to $304.87 according to my cursory search for an inflation calculator.

Those cards don't cost money pal, they make money!

Though if you get caught by the wrong folks, I imagine they cost a lot more in body parts.
posted by inthe80s at 8:41 PM on March 11, 2009

Crooked Gambling Supplies catalog! That's mad. Some googling for more info on the K.C. Card Company turned up this great story about a search for someone who could do a 'middle deal'. Here's the relevant excerpt from The Magician and the Cardsharp:
The two doggedly made the rounds, hitting gambling joints, bars, and pool halls. But when they asked about a center dealer, they came up with little except shakes of the head. It began to look as though the Mexican had merely passed along another version of Sprong’s fairy tale. When they visited the K.C. Card Company, they were directed to still another gambling den, a tough, rundown joint guarded by a man who kept a .45 revolver openly displayed on his wheelchair. Vernon gave the name of K.C.’s manager, Elbert (“Red”) Langworthy, as a reference and got past the guard to face the stern men who ran this backroom dive. What do you want here? they demanded of Vernon, as Miller hung back. Vernon casually stuck to his cover, explaining that he was a mechanic and had heard there was a cheater in town who could deal from the center of the deck. He told them he was eager to get in contact with the man. The men stared at him, and then one of the toughs spoke up. “What mail-order catalog’ve you been reading? What do you mean, dealing from the center of the deck? It’s tough enough to get the second card! That’s a lot of hooey. Nobody does that.”
I won't spoil the ending for you.
posted by tellurian at 8:57 PM on March 11, 2009 [5 favorites]

That's why some gamblers covet their United Airlines or Eastern Airlines playing cards. Apart from some cigarette gimme decks, these were about the hardest to mark there were.
posted by Bernt Pancreas at 9:23 PM on March 11, 2009

Johnson & Smith looked like that in the 80s too. I even placed a couple orders and was largely disappointed. Still loved the catalogs, though. I should see if they still put one out and get my kids into it.
posted by DU at 4:34 AM on March 12, 2009

Holy crap, this is awesome. I wish I didn't have anything to do today so I could just keep on looking at (and looking for) this kinda stuff.
posted by Spatch at 5:14 AM on March 12, 2009

This is lovely. Thank you.
posted by grabbingsand at 7:41 AM on March 12, 2009

Love this kind of thing, thanks. Added bonus is that the crooked supplies catalog is the same age as me.
posted by telstar at 5:55 PM on March 12, 2009

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