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!