Telegram: “Everything”, London

The 1912 Harrods catalog has been scanned and proofread to be read online. It took thirteen years. SO much material history of the last peak of globalization before ours, within the age of fossil fuels but well before fossil fuels’ dominance, and catering to Imperial structure.

Globalization: not just luxury goods but commodities. I noticed wheat could come from at least three continents.

Fuel: Harrods sold wood, several kinds of coal, paraffin heaters, petrol ditto, cars, bicycles, working horse and pony and donkey tack, electric or gas appliances, electric plant designed and installed, nightlights that were little threads of fire (longer ones for winter than summer), and a tablecloth with wires embedded in it that you jammed electric lights into wherever you wanted. (One of those survives in working order!)

Imperial: So much stuff from everywhere, and so many servants at home. And over and over it explains how Harrods will outfit anyone abroad who needs a social or military or exploratory uniform: telegraph Harrods for shoe buckles appropriate to your stations.

Most of these are illustrated with engravings, so if you’re curious I really recommend a version with the pictures, but it can take a moment to download. (Hundreds of Mb.)

Gardening equipment, patent medicines, pus basins, all manner of things to drink, a circular slide rule that looks like a pocket watch, fancy chocolate boxes including some that seem to be literally made of cute dogs taxidermied to be hollow, home water distillers because a lot of people still needed them, very nice slop buckets ditto, hobby equipment for fretwork and pokerwork, instruments and sheet music, a book list which is still pretty Victorian (gently improving throughout), and so many ways to keep warm, whether at home or travelling. The Domes of Silence were a bit of a disappointment. The tubs lived up to the recent post.

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