The Model Publishing Company Catalog

My wife and I lucked out when visiting a local antique shop. The proprietor, who knows us pretty well, let us in on a secret: he just got in a bunch of paper and ephemera at an auction, and although he hadn’t priced it yet we could pick through it if we liked. We pulled together a respectable pile of things, and in the pile was this booklet:


The Model Publishing Company of Chicago, Illinois no longer exists — and that’s about the only thing I can truly say for certain about it. The address, 443 So. Dearborn, is at the north end of Chicago’s famous Printer’s Row, a neighborhood of publishers of all shapes and sizes. Several publishers have claimed the address 443 So Dearborn from the late 19th century until the 1940s, but later show up again with a different Dearborn street address, which leads me to believe 443 saw several publishers come and go over the years, and small publishers didn’t leave their stakes down too long in any one office. Somebody else does have a copy of this catalog for sale, and they list it under ‘geology’ as a category, and dates it at 1934. My copy advertises an almanac for 1931, so I’d say mine is a few years older, from 1930. The books that Model Publishing put out (what few I could actually find) all were published in the late 1920s or early 1930s, which would indicate that Model wasn’t around for more than 10 years.

Categorizing the catalog as “geology” is a good guess just from looking at the cover. A rock pick, a compass, a book titled “minerals” would all make it seem that Model’s catalog is for the serious prospector, a mining man looking for oil or valuable minerals. It’s not quite the case; Model’s catalog has a bit of what we’d call today as “occult” items, and in my mind I associate it with the Johnson Smith Co. “Things You Never Knew Existed” catalog. Because I’m trying to make Infomercantile more directly research-based, rather than “cool thing I found today,” I’ll be deconstructing the Model Publishing Catalog over the next several days.

Tags: , , ,

Leave a Reply