Sunday, September 7, 2014

1953 envelope from the Around-The-World Shoppers Club

This illustrated envelope for the Around-The-World Shoppers Club is stamped November 6, 1953, on the back.1 The club was based at 71 Concord Street in Newark, New Jersey.

(The envelope itself, in case you're wondering, was a trademarked Pennysaver Envelope produced by Samuel Cupples Envelope Co. of Brooklyn, New York.)

I found a full-page advertisement for the Around-The-World Shoppers Club in the January 25, 1954, issue of Life. There's a picture of a wrapped box with the text: "This surprise gift mailed direct to you from a foreign land to demonstrate the beautiful gifts you will receive from all over the world for about $2 each, postpaid, duty free!"

After that, there's A LOT of small type about how wonderful this program is and how you could be eligible to win a trip around the world by Pan American Clipper or a 1954 Studebaker Ranch Wagon or "Any One of These 475 Magnificent Prizes."

The whole "duty free!" aspect of this operation became controversial. The Around-The-World Shoppers Club was charged a federal excise tax for the merchandise that was purchased by by club members and shipped by international third parties. The Club took the United States to court on that issue and lost. Around The World Shoppers Club v. United States was decided in the defendant's favor in United States District Court on October 31, 1961. An appeal to the United States Courts of Appeals, Third Circuit, was heard and denied very quickly in October 1962.

It's fairly interesting legal reading, if you're jazzed by that sort of thing. And it's easy, too, to see how Around-The-World Shoppers Club lost its argument.

But at least, during the company's existence, it produced some attractive pieces of ephemera.

1. On that same date, composer Masao Oki premiered a symphony titled "Atomic Bomb." This premiere came approximately one year after the first "successful" test of a hydrogen bomb during Operation Ivy in the Enewetak Atoll.


  1. I have a post card - to my great grandfather - in 1953 - from Paris.

  2. My mother belonged to that club....she got some AMAZING gifts, some of which I still have! One was a little perfume bottle, blue glass with silver overlay and a small funnel...perfume was inside. I often see the on E-bay or in Antique stores. I also remember a small Blue Delft Lamp from Holland.....I wondered what had happened to the club--thanks for the info!

  3. I just received from my aunt, 3 lace handkerchiefs, made in Belgium, that were purchased through this Around-The-World Shoppers Club. She said that the handkerchiefs were given to my Grandmother or were purchased by her. My Grandmother passed away 40 yrs. ago.

  4. i collect Cuckoo Clocks and came upon a German Black forest Mini 1 weight cuckoo clock from the Around the world shopper club, it came with the original paperwork. i cleaned the movement and reoiled the clock and it is up and running to this day

  5. I have a small oil painting and the advertisement for purchasing of other oil paintings.