Thursday, May 26, 2011

In the Field

More classic era adventuring gear, this time a selection of canvas tents taken from the 1922 "Jubilee" edition of the Montgomery Ward's mail order catalog. I like material like this because of the insight it provides into the technology of the time period. It also makes handy filler material when you're prepping prop newspaper and magazine pages.

As an aside, I use a tent almost identical to the one in the first ad when I'm camping because it's luxuriantly roomy and almost indestructible. Nylon is far lighter and more resistant to mildew, but it's also prone to UV damage from extended sun exposure. Canvas seems to shrug off the sun, and I think it has superior water resistance in all but the most saturated conditions. Not to mention I get to pretend I'm on an expedition while using it. Ten years ago I was into the whole sil-nylon tarp/titanium cookware/lightweight hiking thing, but now that my back has succumbed to the ravages of time I'm getting a real appreciation for vintage-style camping.

Just click through for the high resolution versions.


CoastConFan said...

Sears and Roebuck reprint catalogues are fairly common on the web and make great reference material. The most common dates of reprints available for CoC interest are 1900, 1908, and 1927. Most of the Montgomery Ward (Monkey Ward) catalogue reprints seem to be either 1890s or 1950s.

You can get other reprint catalogues like the Bannerman;s catalogue of obsolete military items from 1927. It shows all the surplus military equipment available on the market in the mid 1920s.

Most of these catalogue companies would ship purchases via mail or railroad anywhere in the U.S., which is a boon to adventure outfitting. The other upside is that you get a guide as to how much the products cost in period money.

Propnomicon said...

@ CoastConFan

Those are all excellent suggestions. Period catalogs, along with classic era atlases and encyclopedias, are some of the most cost-effective game supplements available. Catalogs in particular are excellent references for answering some prop related questions, like common paper sizes and binding methods. You won't find spiral binding until well into the 30s, but modern ring binders without plastic fittings or coatings would be right at home in the 20s.

Tyler said...

Canvas tents are amazingly rugged. I only used one once at Boy Scout camp, but I was taken by obviously robust they were.

On the other hand, the old style isn't nearly as good at insect control as a modern nylon and mesh tent with zips and all that. The tent was a blessed refuge this weekend in the Vermont woods.

Mr. Sable said...

Ten bucks?! Wow!

So where would a fella get a modern wall tent?

Propnomicon said...

@ Mr. Sable

Sadly, the decimal point has moved a bit in the intervening years.|/pc/104795280/c/104779080/sc/105517980/Cabelas-Outfitters-Canvas-Wall-Tents/732409.uts?destination=%2Fcatalog%2Fbrowse.cmd%3FN%3D1102375%26WTz_l%3DSBC%253BBRprd732409&WTz_l=SBC%3BBRprd732409%3Bcat105517980

CoastConFan said...

Put these cheap prices in perspective, a dollar was hard to come by. The Model T Ford cost $290 in 1925. Fords held a 40% share of all cars manufactured in the US in 1926, mostly the Model T. A gallon of gas was generally .17 cents. However, an unskilled working stiff made $40 a week take home pay in the mid 20s. The average annual salary in 1925 was $1,200 for skilled workers and middle class guys with a modest degree or a clerk. The work week averaged only 44 hours in these post war years. The unemployment rate ran under 4% until the Crash of 29. A $20 dollar gold piece was a chunk of change, both then and now. The following link has some good information for the 1920s RPG player