|The earliest tool catalog in my collection is a Holtzapffel Catalog (foreground) from 1863. Similar to earlier tool catalogs from the company it is basically a list of tools with prices. There is no description outside the basic contents and the catalog is really for the person who already knows what they want. Illustrated tool catalogs from the period (and earlier and in color) exist but they are rare and the exception. Mail order at this time didn't really exist and most of the surviving catalogs were really for hardware stores to order from.|
The second catalog is a 1930's tome from Buck & Ryan (center). It's typical of tool catalogs from about 1890 to the 1940's. There is very little description ( the 1896 Chas. A. Strelinger & Co. catalog with their long explanations is a rare exception) The lists of tools and sizes have been expanded to include engravings and there is some descriptive text.
Catalog remained mostly the same with a transition to black and white photographs until the 1970's when Garrett Wade came on the scene. Garrett Wade turned the tool catalog world on its ear. Gone was stogy photos and in were luscious tableaus of tools in use in a workshop. The Garrett Wade catalog peeking out from the right corner is a 2007 descendent. This type of environmental catalog is still popular and we see it all over the industry. They are big, colorful, expensive to produce, and very popular.
We have always got the overwhelming share of our sales from the internet but we felt the catalog was important because - well customers like leafing through catalogs. Our first catalog was a very small black and white affair (upper left - actually the second catalog). Over the years we have added pages and a color cover (upper right). However between changes in the way people shop - more and more of you are doing your shopping on the Internet, all over the catalog industry retailers are wondering how useful a full line catalog is. For a tiny company like ourselves the catalog was an overwhelming task and would consume myself and several other people for the entire summer. So last year we announced that our catalog was our last. It was. There is no new catalog being mailed this year. We do expect to mail something but we want to mail something to you that where the experience can't be replicated on the web.
Just because we don't have a catalog it doesn't mean we haven't been busy all summer. As you might have noticed we have a new website. While the current new release is mostly cosmetic it is designed to make the experience of learning about tools and occasionally buying tools more fun and informative. We hope with the new presentation it will be easier to browse and the experience will be more like a printed catalog - just with all the extra content we are known for. This current version has the same content as before but look for lots of new pictures and videos in the coming months. Also please look at our store on your other electronic devices. We don't use gestures on the iPad version yet but we will and while we work on mobiles now, in the next months more enhancements should make mobile surfing even easier.
Please let me know what you think both the good and the bad.
joel and everyone at tfww.
PS - sorry about the small picture it should be more readable but for some reason it isn't.
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