January 19, 2021

Old Tyme Sears Modern Homes Advertising, 1920's

In a continuing series of articles, we'll examine the changes in Sears Roebuck advertising of the Modern Homes business over the decades. In this installment we will look at the advertising from the 1920's.

Towards the end of the teens, the Sears copywriters began exemplifying some creativity in their advertising, and had moved past simple illustrations of the houses and their corresponding prices.

Or so we thought.

Nooo! In the merchandise catalog of Fall 1921. Sears reverts to the old style of simply showing houses and their prices. "Sold on Easy Payments". At least the illustrations looked better than the plain pen and ink sketches in the past ads.

The cover girl on the 1922 Modern Homes catalog is the Sears Lexington, the third most expensive house Sears ever sold. They clearly wanted to portray the Lexington in an estate-like setting, rather than a typical suburban subdivision. Not every buyer could afford this house.

An authenticated Sears Lexington in Downers Grove, built in 1925.

In the Spring 1926 merchandise catalog, Sears continued the house/price lists, but the ads are now in full color. Additionally, around this time Sears started listing the total number of houses they had sold. In early 1926, they had sold 34,000 houses, and by the time the Modern Homes department folded in 1942, they had sold approximately 65,000 houses.

Also in 1926, Sears returned to the technique of appealing to parents. "Get away from the artificial living in apartments and flats and know the joy of living close to nature where your children have a chance to play in safety and where you have real friends and neighbors." The house is the newly launched Sears Barrington.

Later in 1926, Sears introduced a variant of the preceding ad, which was likely an effective one. Much of the same language is used in both ads.

The Glen Falls is on the cover of the 1927 Modern Homes catalog. Again, this model was one of the most expensive that Sears ever sold. This is the first catalog on which they mentioned the Easy Payment Plan on the cover.

In 1928, Sears continues to stress the Easy Payment Plan. Sears actually used this ad back in 1918, and they brought it back (updating the appearance of the family and using the Glen Falls house).

What a change! The brilliant cover of the 1929 Modern Homes catalog leaps out at the viewer. The Sears Mitchell is the house on the cover, and this is the first cover on which a car was pictured.

A Sears Mitchell in Mount Prospect, built in 1930.

Coming soon: Sears Modern Homes advertisements from the 1930's!


Architectural Observer said...

The 1920's seem to have brought about both improved graphic designs and a more confident use of color... it's easy to see why their catalogs must have very popular. Personally, I think "John Doe" looked way better in 1918 (previous post) than in his 1928 incarnation. I guess the transformation didn't hurt sales, though! I can't wait for the 1930's!

Seth said...

Thanks for compiling and writing this series!

Sears Homes of Chicagoland said...

Thanks for reading!

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