Sunday, July 3, 2011

Over 1,000 tested and proved ideas for making money at home*

Members of the family gaze intently at father's bank account book in this image from the promotional brochure for 1954's "The Complete Home Book of Money-making Ideas" by Douglas Lurton.1

The brochure states: "You don't need extraordinary ability or a lot of money to get started. It takes careful preparation, plus a common-sense understanding of what you'll have to do to succeed."

Money-making ventures described in Lurton's book, according to the brochure, include:
  • Altering clothes
  • Appliance repairs
  • Carpentry
  • Catering
  • Child-care service
  • Dress-making
  • Gardening
  • Poultry
  • Beekeeping
  • Craftwork
  • Photography
  • Whittling
  • Raising animals2
  • Raising herbs
  • Renting rooms
  • Typing
I was about to say that the book, refreshingly, doesn't promote scams or pyramid schemes. But I don't think that's entirely true. There are chapters titled "How to Make Money at Home By Mail Order" and "Ways to Make Money by Telephone" that sound a bit questionable. And the brochure also states:
"A mail-order business offers an ideal way for a couple to make money at home, with a minimum investment. You can sell hundreds of things -- from canaries to kitchen gadgets -- by mail, and there's no middleman to share the profits. The book tells you what you need to know about mail order, to be successful."
Still, Lurton's book seems to be filled with useful information, if the brochure is any measure. It urges potential readers to "stop sitting on good ideas that can make you rich!" It describes how to copyright ideas and patent inventions, and it includes a list of 100 "needed inventions." (It would be interesting to see that list today and note how many of those inventions have since come to pass.)

And what could you do with all this extra money in 1954? According to the brochure: "That extra income can mean a luxurious fur coat3, a new TV set, a cherished piano, an expensive new car, a better college for the children, or whatever you want."

So order today! With the card below (and a time machine), you can get your copy of "The Complete Home Book of Money-making Ideas" for just $2.95 plus shipping from Book Club Associates Inc.4

*My apologies to those of you who came this blog hoping for actual advice on how to make money from the comfort of your own home, and were deeply annoyed to find a post about historical ephemera. You have to admit, though, that this entry's title is fantastic for search engine optimization. The only thing that would have made it better would have been to title it "Justin Bieber's 1,000 tested and proved ideas for making money at home." But that would not have been accurate or honest. It would have been gratuitous to mention Justin Bieber. This would also be gratuitous: "Justin Bieber. Justin Bieber. Justin Bieber." Also, "Scott Baio."

1. There's still a fair market for the book, 57 years later. Copies are available on Amazon and can be had for less than $4.

2. Among the animals it states can be raised are chinchillas! The brochure states: "Chinchillas are immaculate, and can be kept in small cages in an attic or basement. Best of all, each of these beautiful fur-bearing animals can be fed for an entire year for not over $3.00!" (Sigh. I wonder how many poor animals got stuck and neglected in cages left in people's attics?)

3. Perhaps a luxurious coat made from chinchilla fur? (Sigh again.)

4. Justin Bieber not included.


  1. Great post, Chris! I didn't know you were a "Belieber"! :D

  2. Don't be too quick to write off the mail order ideas. The 50's and 60's were the golden age of mail order, and I remember knowing and dealing with people who turned hobbies into extra income that way. Advertising was cheap, even in the dozens of nationwide specialty magazines. I remember being fascinated by things like "10 old postcards for $1.00" or "tumbled gemstones for 10 cents each." To be honest, I rather miss them.