Friday, June 30, 2006

Pleasure & Profit



A few months back, I was the lucky recipient of a July 1951 copy of The Workbasket: Home and Needlecraft for Pleasure and Profit. (Thank you, A!)

The Workbasket is most definitely a forerunner of craftster.org, etsy.com and all our crafty blogs: a place where women could share craft ideas and make a little pin money on the side. I’m a sucker for the ads in vintage magazines, and the entrepreneurial schemes advertised in The Workbasket have me entranced. There’s no doubt in my mind that were I a housewife in middle America in July 1951, I would have sent away for the no obligation FREE BOOKLET Thrilling Work Coloring Photos at Home.

Absolutely no doubt. (As a Berkeley student in San Francisco in 1994, I paid actual money for a publication advertised in a free weekly purporting to reveal the key to riches reading unpublished book manuscripts.)

Listen to this:
Fascinating hobby and vocation learned at home by average man or woman who is artistically inclined. Work full or spare time. Modern method brings out natural, life-like colors. Many have earned while learning.

Sign me up! The Workbasket is full of these enticements:

$25 in Gifts for You! Not One Cent To Pay!

Shine Shoes Without “Polish.” New invention. Lightning seller. Shoes gleam like mirror. Samples sent on trial.

FABULOUS EARNINGS – Fascinating pastime. Growing Genuine, living miniature (Ming) Trees. New sensational Business or Hobby. Astounding information Free.

MAKE MONEY making new greaseless doughnuts at home with electric machine. Wholesale to grocers, drug stores, cafes, hamburger shops. Send for free recipes and plans.


Of course, there’s something slightly sinister about all this, but I’m guessing that The Workbasket’s readers weren’t anymore naïve about their chances of striking it rich than we are, and anyhow, nobody’d try anything if they weren’t just a little bit naïve, don’t you think?

3 Comments:

Blogger Di said...

I love it all- it's quite amazing how things have changed, and yet how they haven't.
(do tell- did you ever make any money reading manuscripts?)

9:56 AM  
Blogger Meg said...

Beautiful. the latest thing I fell for was a chain letter (yes, I know, never give me your postal address, you never know what you might receive) which required me to send one 2nd hand book to the first person on the list, add my name, etc...and I was to expect something like 24 books to come flooding to my mailbox within 6 months. I ran an office sweep to see how many books I would get. I think I got one or two. It was a disappointment.

1:05 PM  
Anonymous Alicia P. said...

Part of what's frustrating about reading The WB is not being able to send for crap. . . .

6:09 AM  

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