The Johnson Smith Catalogue

The above illustration is a collage of pages from the Johnson Smith Catalog, from photos
taken by Forrest Flanders, owner of the Old Catalogs website. Used by permission.

The Johnson Smith Company had a novelty catalog with the standard hand buzzers, wind-up clacking teeth, whoopee cushions, X-ray specs, and a pack of gum that snapped your finger like a mousetrap when you pull out a phony stick of gum. They also had a section dedicated to the paranormal. That’s the section I focused on.

It didn’t take long for me to see that these products were not as profound as they appeared, but just reading those long descriptions in the catalog opened portals in my mind to the vaguely transgressive secrets of the mystics. I could imagine some stories.

Below are some examples of things I ordered from the Johnson Smith Catalog, but I had to find pictures on the internet because Dad sold all mine at the Flea Market, because I said he could, along with other toys.

1966 Paperback Edition
Disappearing Coin Trick
“Jacob’s Ladder” Blocks