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The Latest Piece of Home Decor for Uni Watch HQ

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As many of you know, I have a large collection of vintage uniform catalogs. I keep them in plastic sleeves in a series of big three-ring binders, and then the binders are stowed on a bookshelf. And that’s really the problem with this type of collection: The catalogs mostly just sit there on the shelf — it’s pretty rare for me to pull them out and look through them. And even when I do, that enjoyment is pretty quick and fleeting, because I just put them back on the shelf. The main pleasure that comes from this type of collection is just knowing that it’s there, which is nice but not fully satisfying. It feels a bit more like hoarding than collecting, and that’s always bugged me just a teeny bit.

As you may also know, I’ve been doing some redecorating here at Uni Watch HQ, and it recently occurred to me that some of the more attractive pages from the old uni catalogs might look good if they were framed and hung on the wall. Obviously, that would necessitate removing those pages from their catalogs. On the one hand, tampering with an artifact like that seems blasphemous. But the more I thought about it, the more it seemed like keeping the catalogs stowed away on the bookshelf wasn’t an ideal situation either for them or for me. I have many dozens of these old catalogs — in the big picture, how blasphemous would it really be to tear out a page or two from a couple of them?

So I recently sat down with the catalogs and began paging through every single one of them, looking for pages that might work well as stand-alone objets d’art. I had put Post-its on a few such pages when I came across a 1940s Goldsmith basketball catalog that wasn’t a traditional paginated publication — it was more like a giant fold-out poster. On one side was a fairly pedestrian mishmash of items listed for sale (sneakers in first photo provided for scale):

And on the other side — well, see for yourself:

I had no memory of owning or acquiring this item. I must have found it on eBay (that’s where I got most of my uni catalogs), and then I guess I filed it away and forgot about it. But it was perfect for what I had in mind — the side with the one giant poster image would look great on the wall, and I wouldn’t have to tear out any pages from anything!

The poster is big — 22 by 34 inches — so I mail-ordered a big-ass frame for it and am really happy with how it looks:

I really love it — the colors, the wacky uniforms, all of it. And the creases aren’t as visible in real life.

Thanks for once again letting me play show-and-tell!


ITEM! A Visit to the Jackie Robinson Museum

For this week’s Premium article on Substack, I wrote about my recent visit to the new Jackie Robinson Museum here in NYC, where I photographed all sorts of cool stuff (including the ticket stub shown above, which is from the Brooklyn Dodgers’ 1956 tour of Japan).

You can read the first part of the article here. To read the entire thing, you’ll need to become a paying subscriber to my Substack, which I hope you’ll consider doing. Thanks!

Comments (19)

    As some further background, the museum has been in the works for going on 20 years (with multiple delays and funding shortfalls along the way). My working theory as to siting it on Varick was that the building boom in Brooklyn was a couple years out from kicking off. The funny thing is, if the JRF waited a couple more years in the initial planning phase, it would probably have ended up in one of those big new buildings near BAM or in Downtown Brooklyn.

    The various colors make this pop so well for a decoration. Very cool.
    Not quite the same, but this takes me down memory lane of receiving eastbay catalogs when I was a kid. Was probably in middle school at the time, and fully into uniforms and logos. While the catalog had loads of professional team merch, it also included sneakers, uniforms, and practice gear you could order for your team. I loved looking at all the design templates and color options available, and would sort of picture how they’d look for the youth teams I played on and for our rival teams in other towns.

    A very cool wall decoration indeed! I would have picked a natural wood grain frame instead of black, but wow, what a great item! These Goldsmith uniforms and track suits must have looked wonderful in real life as well.

    Paul, the poster looks great but now I’m feeling depressed about the many unread books on my bookshelves that I’ll probably never get to in this lifetime.

    If you decide to take pages out of some catalogues, just remember to digitalize them so you can have the file of how it looked together (in case you need/want to look at them again)

    The posters look awesome!!

    I just went to the Jackie Robinson Museum myself last Saturday, so many cool artifacts in there! Also provides super in-depth knowledge and context around his fascinating life; I wish I had taken even more time to fully digest everything in there than the hour and change I spent inside (went late in the day and they were closing for the night unfortunately). I highly recommend checking it out. Timely write-up too as Jackie’s birthday (and my own, coincidentally) is next Tuesday!

    Love your “new” art piece! Great idea!

    Following on Omar’s post: A good poster shop will be able to digitize and blow up images from catalogs- so that might open up more possibilities. My son was really into arctic explorers and maps. The original image was from a page in a map book. Our shop in Boulder Co.- Art Source International- made this poster for him for Christmas one year. He liked how the map identified the farthest point each expedition reached.


    Of course there are limits to how much you can enlarge, but it is a way to preserve the original and have a great piece of art.

    Hey Paul,

    A friend of mind is a professional printer. He could scan in the pages that you want to make posters of…even shoot them with a professional camera if that is better…then clean up the images and blow them up. You will have poster size, quality prints and won’t have to take apart the catalogs. He could even mount or frame them,

    That poster looks great Paul. Now my head is spinning with ideas for my own “man room”.

    I don’t even like basketball, but I would probably hang that poster if I had a “man cave!”

    Probably because the partner in the house is not crazy about sports, advertisements and the combination of both hanging on the wall in the living room or hallway. I know all about that and fortunately I am able now to hang on any of my walls whatever I like, but not all of us are in that position.

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