Saturday 4 March 2017

Online Ordering, the Catalogue Method

With everything online these days you don't see many catalogues anymore.  So, it was a real treat to find the T. Eaton Co. Limited 1901 Spring Summer Fall Winter catalogue!  This store sold everything from women's, men's, and children's clothing to horse equipment to furniture to groceries.  The catalogue itself is 10" long, 75" wide, and 1" thick.  The front and back covers are heavier cardstock and the pages are newsprint - with rather small font I might add!   The back shows the store as it was in Toronto.  If you look closely, you can see the street trollys, bicycles, and horses and buggies on the streets.

There is a small paragraph in French at the front of the catalogue addressed to "Our French Customers."  Eaton's advises they prefer to receive orders in English, however, if that isn't possible, they ask that you write in French very clearly.

Below are some pictures from the catalogue that give us a good idea of what people were wearing in this period.  Interesting that they have ladies' skirts for walking and bicycling.

Boots and shoes - can you tell the difference?

Horse equipment in a department store!  Long replaced now with automotive supplies.

Household furniture and appliances.

Hats and men's clothes.

The groceries section is introduced by saying "Our Grocery Department is very complete, and the highest standard of quality is maintained.  You will always receive carefully selected goods.  It is a good plan to make up an order once a month (or you and your neighbors together), and include what groceries you need.  We can then ship by freight, and the charges will be very low."  Usually the front page in a grocery flyer has the more commonly purchased items.  The list below is quite different than what we see today!  If anyone knows what the "blue" is, please leave a comment.

The list of groceries on the first page includes:

arrowroot (not the cookies)
baking powders
baking soda, etc.
bird seed and gravel
butter "We guarantee this brand of butter as strictly first-class, and receive our supply daily"
candied peel
catsup "Our own make tomato catsup brand" (not ketchup)
cream and milk
cheese - clearly states "Prices subject to market fluctuations"

It's always interesting to take a quick walk back in time to see what people's daily lives looked like 100+ years ago; what they wore, what they bought, and how much everything cost.  (2011.040.01 H-591)


  1. Its an education to leaf through an old Eaton's catalogue and see the styles popular at the time as well as the many diversified items available. Not to forget that before the popularity and availability of bathroom tissue, the Eaton's catalogue was being re-cycled in the little two-holer building out back of the house!

  2. Blue might well be a laundry additive, used when washing whites. It made them appear brighter and whiter, and helped prevent yellowing.

    1. Kings Co. Museum6 March 2017 at 20:55

      I think you are right about the "blue" - there are still some products on the market today that are "blue." Thank-you for the post!

  3. Información muy útil. ¡Espero ver más posts pronto!. Metodo apollo