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Friday, May 20, 2011

Setting Scenes with J. Peterman

For those of you who missed it, I wrote a post last October on the J. Peterman Catalog and was surprised that many of you though it was "only a television thing" based on the recurring character, Mr. Peterman, on the hit sitcom Seinfeld.

In the real-life catalog, each item for sale (ranging from clothing to antique coffee grinders) is described in a literary blurb designed to create atmosphere.

Many of the blurbs are over the top and make for highly entertaining reading, especially if you add a British accent (don’t ask me why—the company is based in Lexington, KY, but an accent makes everything more fun, so pick your favorite one and have at it). Read them and you could learn a thing or two about setting scenes.

And if you're short on novel ideas, you might just get a handful from the catalog. Check out this advertisement for luggage:

Try looking in the attic first. You don't have one? Then it's time maybe to go to the secret barn. Somewhere there is one. And it's filled with everything.

Look…there under that huge pile of saddles and hats…it seems to be the hood of a car. Oh no. It's the Packard. It's the 12-cylinder Packard convertible somebody (Emily?) once drove across the country. The doors are locked.

…but inside the car seems to be stuffed with old clocks, framed oil paintings, a leopard skin, books, boots, brass fishing reels, stamp albums…

You can't take it all in. At the other end of the barn you notice a marble table, a beautiful slim-wheeled two-seat carriage, a stack of a dozen carved chairs, a leather trunk…it's all too much at once…
You trip on something. What is it? A leather suitcase of some kind. You lift it by its handles. It has old European hotel stickers on it. You grab it and practically run…you'll come back to the barn some other time…

In broad daylight you examine it. A beautiful, mellow old leather Gladstone. (That's what they used to call them.) Rather defiantly and ruggedly old-fashioned looking. Strong enough to go down the Nile, across the Alps, through the Canal, over the oceans, but still small enough to carry aboard a plane. A thing like this would cost a fortune these days…

Heirloom Gladstone Bag (No. 1006). Rich Brown full-grain cowhide, handsome but meant to be abused. Brass fittings throughout. Cloth-lined. Big enough to swallow a lot, but not too big: 9-1/2” wide x 18” long x 14” tall.

Click the links for more entertainment and an interesting selection of beautiful/handsome/eccentric items from around the world :)

Main Website

One-of-a-Kind Page

Request a Catalog

~~

On another note, I’m taking a break from blogging next week due to traveling. Where, you ask? Perhaps the outskirts of moonlit Paris, or the deep jungles of Burma? I’m afraid not. I’ll be in Iowa, visiting my parents.

Until June, happy writing!

33 comments:

  1. I love the way they give these products a whole back story!
    Have a wonderful time visiting your parents.

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  2. Wow - I need to check out that catalog. I'm not sure which accent I had in my head as I read that...something sweeping and dramatic for sure. :) And I actually love that luggage!

    Have a great time with your parents!

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  3. I think I actually remember that post! Yeah! Except now you have made me covetous. I want that Gladstone bag and I'm afraid to peek at the price.

    Happy visiting! I am off to NC to visit a friend next weekend. Certainly expect better weather than what the Rockies have been doling out lately. Sheesh.

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  4. Wonder how I could get on the J Peterman catalog mailing list?

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  5. Wow, where in Iowa? My hubby went to college in Davenport IA and we both grew up in Galesburg, IL. Small world:) Good post, I always have loved the J Peterman catalogue. Sometimes the write-ups just flat out make me laugh.

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  6. I never knew a catalog could be so exciting.

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  7. Haha i love that, had never heard of it, brilliant :)

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  8. I loved that catalog. It had such great stuff. It's still around? I haven't seen one since...hmmm...it was the '90's...yeah, it's not coming to me. But it's been more than a decade.

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  9. Happy travels. Love it when an object has its own story and lights a fire in the world of the MS.

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  10. Make sure you take your Gladstone with you!!

    Ha!

    I heart J. Peterman.

    The old Banana Republic catalogs use to be awesome, too.

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  11. That was great. I think I read it with some '50s type voice, I think. :)

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  12. Classic!

    And, hey, Iowa's pretty cool. At least my hubs, who grew up there, thought so. Safe travels!

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  13. Just bookmarked the site! Looks like a fun place to browse through. Thanks for the link :-)

    Wishing you a great trip. Enjoy!

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  14. But Iowa is LOVELY this time of year. Hee, hee. No really, that catalogue is a gold mine for story material. I could learn a lot from their over the top item descriptions. :o)

    Have a great night!

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  15. Have a great time in Iowa! :P Visits home are always interesting.

    Thanks for your kind post on my blog. :)

    Cheers!
    L Finch

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  16. Have a fun vacation, even if you are in Iowa! ;)

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  17. Great post! And, I've tagged you over at my blog!! Check it out. :)

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  18. Have a great trip! We'll miss you until then, and amusing posts like this one.

    -Vicki

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  19. How awesome! And thanks for the link to request a catalog, because as I was reading the blurb I was thinking, "I need to find this catalog and make it my own."

    Have a great trip, too :)

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  20. That's a serious amount of backstory for a bag! One of our favorite games is to look at the scenes pictured in the LLBean Catalog (or any catalog really) and make up captions based on whatever scenario we think is happening - the funnier the better!

    Have a great time visiting your parents and stay away from tornados!

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  21. Wow, that is a very British-sounding ad. I'm with you! I'd love to write those for a living.

    I thought it was made up on Seinfeld too.

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  22. Happy visiting and see you when you come back. You do so much for us, you deserve a break. :)

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  23. Hey Jess. Love your blog. I gave you an award on mine. I see you already have it though, but wanted to let you know you rock! Thanks for all the info!

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  24. Those catalog blurbs are great! Yep, I'm one of those who thought it was just a Seinfeld thing. *sigh*

    Enjoy your vacation, and stay safe.

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  25. I'll definitely check this out, and pass it on to my daughters, who love to speak with British accents! What a great idea to use a catalog to inspire writing.

    ~Debbie

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  26. Whoa...all the ideas! #flippingthroughcatalogandsighs. Thanks for checking out my interview. Following you, now. :)

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  27. LOL That sure beats the Sears catalog descriptions. :D

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  28. Have fun in the midwest! LOL that catalogue is HYSTERICAL. So that's the kind of job unpublished literary writers get...

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  29. It's not a purse, it's a satchel! :-)

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  30. Fun post. Have a great time in Iowa

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  31. Got a good chuckle out of this. Will try to post this response, not the first time, but I'm trying.

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