The First Archie McPhee Catalog

Archie McPhee Catalog Cover, 1985

To celebrate our 25th anniversary, we’ve scanned and posted our first catalog! The text below it is from the introduction to our upcoming book written by owner Mark Pahlow describing exactly how this catalog came to be.

I did the primitive layout for those first few (catalogs) myself.   I’d take bad black and white photos using my Pentax 35mm Spotmatic. Then the photos, developed by the first Costco in the nation, were taken to Bozotronics in the funky Fremont neighborhood to be made into halftones. I’d cut these and paste them onto paper using rather toxic rubber cement. With an IBM Selectric typewriter, I’d type out copy to go with the images.

The strength in those early catalogs was not in the presentation, but in the writing. Since the pictures were often dark and printed in muddy black and white on cheap newsprint, it was difficult to make out details. My descriptions of the products were often honest statements detailing how terrible the product was or rambling humorous screeds that mentioned the product only in passing. This suited my character and seemed to connect to certain eccentric members of the public. You know who you are.

Click here to see the whole first Archie McPhee catalog.


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