Never one to give up, I continued to search. I stumbled across the Hathi Trust Digital Library that has searchable digital Sears’ catalogs from the 1950s through the mid-80s. Unfortunately, you cannot view the pages due to copyright law. You would think Sears might give the Trust an exception, oh well. I was not deterred. I used key word searches and the reported pages to figure out which years had “contemporary” or “modern” on the same page as “mailbox.”
The issues from 1957 till 1959 were missing, but I was able to figure out that the mid-century modern mailbox likely started to appear in 1961. After spending a couple hours searching the volumes electronically, I thought, hey maybe one of the University libraries in North Carolina has some Sears Catalogs.
Eureka! Davis Library at UNC-Chapel Hill had the 1950, 1951, 1957, and most issues from 1961 to 1978. I jumped in the car and drove 30 minutes to the library, within the hour I had document the Sears mid-century modern mailbox from 1961 through 1978.
The Sears Spring through Summer 1961 catalog was called the Diamond Jubilee – Sears 75 Years. When I turned to the mailbox section, the mid-century modern mailbox was featured on ¼ of the page. I could hardly contain my excitement! I even made a self-video, but it is a bit scary…way to much energy.
The product listing from the Limited Library Edition of the 1961 Sears catalog is shown here. [Click here to see the full catalog page.] Notice the angled steel post in the inset too! Take some time to read the ad. Notice the reference to the baked enamel finish…tougher than your lawn mower finish. The mailbox is heavy-gauge steel and was tested in the Sears laboratory too.
I like the detailing of the aluminum door handle and cap on the flag assembly. Notice the two-tone color options.
Great inspiration for a modbox design!
Helps defines the material/finish standards and level of quality. Definitely mid-century.
The 1961 Sears catalog is at the heart of modbox, so I decided to buy a copy. Remarkably, there was a listing on ebay, and the folks lived in Raleigh! The owner’s father, who had passed recently, liked to hold onto things. They found the Sears Diamond Jubilee catalog sitting on a shelf in the garage and figured someone might like to have it. I’ve included the product listing here, as it has different information.
Notice the ad copy: Here’s the beauty that will be replacing the “old look” in R.F.D. boxes throughout the United States. Great color combination on the smaller mailbox, top half is light blue and bottom half is white.