WishbookWeb was created in October 2006 to be a place to come and freely view the Christmas catalogs of the past.
Until now, only select pages of these catalogs have been available online for viewing, such as toy pages, or a few pages of clothing. If you wanted to see these books you had to be satisfied with the few reprinted pages online, or track down the books on Ebay. WishbookWeb is an attempt to change all that.
WishbookWeb is the brainchild of two catalog preservation enthusiasts, one known appropriately as "Wishbook". Wishbook set up a freely-viewable site on Flickr.com and attracted much attention and support from those who found it. People were able to see the catalogs they enjoyed from their past, and reminisced at the memories they triggered. Wishbook also hoped to place the catalogs in historical and cultural context, revealing how consumerism reflected the trends and and thinking of the society they were made for. Wishbook's Flickr.com site attracted Jason and the two began sharing their catalog scans and visions of how to bring them to a greater audience.
WishbookWeb.com hopes to take this enthusiasm and make it even easier to access and enjoy. Although the existing efforts to obtain, scan, and post the catalog images have been exclusively the domain of the two hosts of the site, we hope to invite others to scan their catalogs or donate them to the site, and make WishbookWeb.com an "open source" project.
WishbookWeb hopes to one day be a thorough, searchable resource and archive of historical vintage catalogs. For now, it is a beginning.
So far, it's been a labor of love. We've gone out and purchased catalogs, mostly on Ebay. Once we get them, they are carefully disassembled and scanned. This process destroys the binding, but leaves each page free to be scanned as flat as possible. As an example, a 400 page catalog takes roughly eight or nine hours to scan and crop. Most of our catalogs have been scanned at 300dpi and permanently stored as tiff files, although the viewable jpegs on the site are lower resolution than that. We'd like to have the full-resolution images available to all, but for now, it's not practical. Once a catalog is scanned, the loose pages are stored, in case they are needed at a later date.