Literary Pursuits

The Workbasket – July 1953

This installment from my collection of vintage Workbasket magazines comes to you from July 1953. I thought the cover doily was so pretty that I made it myself! That was a fun project.
And while they got off to a good start with such a lovely crochet pattern, it must have been the month to recruit Christmas card salesmen… er, salesladies.

Page 4. “Ladies! Make Good Money Selling Exclusive 50 for $1.00 Christmas Cards!”

That does seem like a quite reasonable price. But what’s the deal with a ‘bonus’ of “Low-Cost Hosiery to New Agents!”? We’re supposed to sell nylons alongside the Christmas cards? That seems like an odd combination to me. And I have no idea what “60 gauge 15 denier” means. Do you?

Page 7. “Think of it! …there are $$$ and $$$ of CASH PROFIT waiting for you in these wonderful boxes…”

Presumably “$$$ and $$$” means “dollars and dollars.”

“…cards so handsome they’ll be remembered and treasured through the years!”

Yep. Grandma hoarded the ones she received through the years. She really did!

“Your own good sense will tell you there must be literally hundreds of folks right in your neighborhood who’ll thank you for introducing them to these cards.”

I’m pretty sure that’s not what my own good sense is telling me.

“If you are a fund raiser for an organization, please check here.”

Oh, yes. That would be me. Not a person with neighbors. I’m a fund raiser.

Page 9. “A balanced selection of 21 lovely, heart-warming cards… just right for every name on every list.”

Yet there’s a little note that says “This is only one of our 50 assortments.” If the original “sensational” box is just right for every name on every list, why do they need to offer 49 other assortments?

Page 13. “Meet Your Santa Claus for 1953: The Hedenkamp Family.”

It’s unclear to me what makes this family my Santa Claus for 1953… and exactly which one is Santa Claus. They can’t all be. Can they? And how are they a family? Mama, Daddy, and the three children? Their pictures don’t exactly give me that impression. Maybe they’re siblings.

Pages 16-17. “Just let your friends and neighbors and co-workers SEE these lovely Doehla Christmas and All Occasion box assortments. YOU don’t have to say another word!”

All ya gotta do is smile and nod. No need to speak at all.

 Page 19. “$50–$100–no limit to what you can earn in spare time…” and they “sell themselves,” of course.

What else would you expect?

Oh, we’re not anywhere close to being done yet.

 Page 21.  “I Earned $57.04 In less than 2 HOURS showing the Phillips Christmas line to a group of my neighbors.”

Very important to be precise, you know. It wouldn’t do to round it off. Also, I would like to see “Wags the Dog ‘In Action’.” Sounds interesting!

Page 23. “New Easy Way to Make… Extra Money.”

I have no idea how Easy it was to sell greeting cards 60 years ago, but I’m sorry. This was not New! It just wasn’t. They need to quit saying that.

“Sell New ‘Life-Like’ Greeting Card That Move!”

What in the world is a ‘life-like’ card? When were cards ever alive? I guess that would be something new all right.

Whoops! Looks like  I missed an ad for selling Christmas cards on page 24… and there’s another one on page 32. Oh, well. Moving right along…

Page 35. “30 Actual Cards…”

as opposed to… um, what? Fake cards?

“You can make every day ‘pay day’ from now to Christmas.”

So you’re thinking I would actually get out there and sell cards every day for 6 months, huh? What a novel idea!

Pages 40-41. With testimonials! “I am nine years old and selling your cards is the only way a girl as little as I am can earn money and have fun!”

Bless her heart! She probably wouldn’t have as much fun with any of the other card companies.

“One lady bought $19 worth in one hour!”

Some of us take longer than that to make up our minds how we want to spend our $19. Just be patient with us. We can’t help it.

Skipping over another small ad for selling cards on page 43… and one on page 44… honestly, I thought I had scanned them all. I think they’re multiplying while I’m not looking!

Finally! Here are some ideas for making “cents” that don’t involve knocking on doors with sample boxes of cheap greeting cards! And while these ideas wouldn’t go over today, I thought they were pretty interesting for the time… making foot stools out of tin cans… and cookie jars… excuse me, “cooky” jars out of shortening cans. Grandma definitely knew how to up-cycle, didn’t she? I especially like the one about offering country dinners to city folks who are out for a “ride into the country.” Can you just imagine?

I’m surprised there’s not an ad for Christmas cards on that page. Never fear, though, they aren’t going to let that idea go.

Page 51. “Do you need money? $35.00 is yours for selling only 50 boxes of our 300 Christmas card line. And this can be done in a single day.”

Sure. If I get that woman who is willing to spend $19 in a single hour, and one of her friends who is willing to do the same. Then they’d each have 25 boxes of cards, which they’d still be sending out to their grandchildren and great-grandchildren 40 years later, in spite of the fact that the cards were beginning to turn yellow around the edges.

Page 53. “It’s easy! No trick offers! No gimmicks! Just show prize-winning Elliott Christmas cards… to Friends and other Folks.”

And you can pretty much count on the Friends moving over into the Other Folks category if you’re gonna bug ’em like that all the time.

Page 55. “Aggressive Detroit Com-
pany can help You or your club earn EXTRA MONEY!”

Gotta get that line break in there at the right place, dontcha see? They also offer a large assortment of geegaws if greeting cards aren’t going over quite as well as you might expect.

And now let me show you the lovely dress patterns, which I always enjoy poring over in each issue of the Workbasket.

Oh, no… say it ain’t so… yet another ad for selling Christmas cards on the opposite page?

Page 57. “I Made $93 and I Know How Easy It Is to Earn Extra Money the Southern Way!”

I was trying to figure out what Mrs. J.R. Shields meant by “Southern Way” since she’s from Illinois. That’s not the South last time I checked. Oh! Turns out the company is named Southern. That explains it.

Page 65. “…startling NEW $1.00 box assortments”

That’s what I want. Startling Christmas cards.

And now, more pretty dress patterns.

Wait! What’s that little ad about a quarter of the way down the next page? Sure enough, yet another opportunity!

 Page 69. “At last! Something new and sensational in Christmas cards!”

Well, good. I was getting tired of the same-old-same-old.

Aren’t we done yet? Not quite.

 Page 71. “Amazingly Different and Smart…”

I guess I’m gonna have to order these, too, to find out what the amazing difference is, because this ad sounds suspiciously like the previous one.

Page 73. And here’s another company asking “Do You Need Money?”

This one sounds a lot like the ad on page 51, but they are supposedly different companies. Weird!

Page 74. By now I’m about to go cross-eyed reading the tiny print on these silly ads. The dollar signs fading into infinity aren’t helping any. This one admits to selling cards from other publishers. I wonder how many of these companies actually did overlap?

Page 77. “Run a spare-time card and gift shop at home.”

That’s the one I want. No knocking on doors for me. Let the customers come to my shop! Because, I’m sure they will.

And on the back cover, guess what? Yet another ad for Christmas cards! Are you surprised?

So, how many Christmas card ads is that? Let’s see… I scanned 21 of them… plus the 4 I overlooked. 25 ads for pretty much the same thing in one issue of a small magazine like The Workbasket seems like overkill. I’d say they were staunch supporters of Free Enterprise! Or brainwashing.

Don’t you want to get right out there and sell some Christmas cards in your spare time?


  • Natasha Marie

    The doily is beautiful!!

    And this made me laugh, "And you can pretty much count on the Friends moving over into the Other Folks category if you're gonna bug 'em like that all the time." ;D

  • Rebekah

    There's nothing like a bit of "say it enough times and someone will believe me" when it comes to adds. 🙂 I guess they hadn't come up with all the other ways to make you spend money to get money.
    Cute dress patterns though.

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