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Before Amazon: Mail Order in Appalachia

A virtual exhibit exploring mail order in Appalachia through the Artifacts in the Appalachian Artifacts Teaching Collection

In rural Appalachia, like all of rural America, the advent of mail order shopping was hugely impactful.  Evidence is found in the array of things people owned and used—the material culture of Appalachia.  Below is a selection of mail order objects found in our Appalachian Artifacts Teaching Collection.

Sheep Shears

This sheep shear is from an unknown household in the Great Smoky Mountains near Gatlinburg, Tennessee.  Sheep once were more common in mountain homes.  It is artifact number 1969.1.310 in the Edna Lynn Simms Collection.



From the 1895 Montgomery Ward & Co. catalogue:

Carriage Wrench

This carriage wrench is from an unknown household in eastern Kentucky.  As carriage and wagon parts and assembly became standardized, combinations wrenches like this became popular.  It was designed to fit all of the common bolts on the carriage or wagon.  The large square end was for the axle nut.  It is artifact number 1981.13.87 in Appalachian Collection.



From the 1895 Montgomery Ward & Co. catalogue:

Hay and Corn Knives

These knives are from an unknown household in the Great Smoky Mountains near Gatlinburg, Tennessee.  They are artifacts number 1969.1.286 and 1969.1.344 in the Edna Lynn Simms Collection.



From the 1895 Montgomery Ward & Co. catalogue: