Baby Stuff: High Chairs, Cribs, Strollers and Car Seats




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  • Baseline CPI 1962 – 15.9
  • Today’s CPI (April 2016) – 128.3 (May CPI not yet available)
  • 1962 prices in today’s dollar – 1962 price X 8.07

Since our daughter is expecting a baby in August (our first grandchild) I thought I’d compare baby products from 1962 with those of today.

The 1962 Eaton’s Spring and Summer Catalogue has fifteen pages of items for baby. Styles and most notably, safety in design, has changed significantly since then. Many of the products for sale back then were surprisingly flimsy. Many of the baby products from 1962 would, in fact, be illegal now.

The catalogue index has just over a column of products under the title Baby Needs. Everything from absorbent cotton to walkers. Today we’ll cover high chairs, cribs, strollers and car seats.

Consider the high chair below.

babyhighchairp140

It swivels and cost $17.97 back then. Today that would be $145.18. That was the most expensive one. Other models sold for as little as $9.29 or $74.97. Today Sears has high chairs ranging from $59.99 to $399.99. The trend seems to be to more expensive chairs.

Cribs are another necessity. The featured crib in 1962 was the white number shown below.

babycribp141

At $39.66, this would set you back $320.05 in today’s dollar. This crib lacks all the safety design features mandated by law in today’s cribs and would not be available. Today in Canada you are legally prohibited from selling some older models, even second hand, if they fail to meet today’s safety standards.

babyportocribp141

The portable crib shown above would be a definite no-no today. Way too flimsy.

Today’s cribs are better constructed and range from $199.99 to $749.99 at Sears. At the Bay they range from $269.99 to $719.99.

Baby buggies are another important item which can set a new parent back a bundle. The two below are typical of the style back then. babybuggiesp142

At $39.88 and $42.88, these would be $321.83 and $346.04 in 2016 dollars. There was one as low as $29.77 and as high as $54.88. And strollers ranged from $9.97 to $44.97 for a double model for twins. That’s $80.45 to $362.91 in today’s dollar.

babystrollers
The equivalent in 2016 dollars for these two strollers would be $160.43 and $201.43.

Today you’ll find strollers at Sears from $39.99 to $599.99.  At the Bay they run from $229.99 to $899.99. Many of today’s strollers are rather hi-tech with three wheels, a main frame that can be detached to use as a bassinet, quality brakes and more. But as with cribs, you’ll find a much wider variety at baby specialty stores, many of which lean towards the high end of things. Shops such as Babies ‘r’ Us or Baby Gap as well as many independents.

Modern style baby stroller from
Modern style baby stroller from Mountain Buggy®. This model sells for $449.99 at Sears.

We finish off with something that was optional back in 1962 and mandatory today – the infant car seat. Here, perhaps, we’ll find the largest change in safety and design.

babycarseatsp142p

The flimsy car seat K is almost laughable by today’s standards. Two metal hooks attach the seat to the car. But it does have a little horn so the little tyke can have hours of travelling fun! At $6.97, today it would be $56.25. The bassinet car seats L and M are $12.88 and $14.96 respectively or $112.06 and $ 120.73 in today’s dollar.  But somehow, I don’t think baby would truly be safe in one of these. They were designed to conveniently convey a bay in a car but not to keep her safe in an accident.

Today’s focus is on safety above all else and car seats are carefully engineered and hi-tech. And they are often coordinated with a buggy. The baby seating area is detached from the buggy to form a car seat. And they are fairly expensive. At Sears they range from $194.99 to $569.99 for rear-facing models (considered safer than front-facing models). The Bay has them from $189.99 to $729.99. In both cases the more expensive ones are convertible to a stroller.

moderncarseat
Modern car seat from Chicco® available at Sears for $299.99.

So while today’s cribs, strollers and car seats are much sturdier and safer than those of the past, and while you can get a modern cribs and strollers for less than the equivalent cost in 1962, most are considerably better quality and more expensive. Car seats are all more expensive, but then the 1962 models were a joke.

The products shown in today’s post are found on pages 140, 141, 142, and 143 of the Spring and Summer Catalogue.




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Welcome to Now and Then!




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Welcome to Now and Then, the blog that compares fashions, technology and prices from 1962 to those of today.

Years ago my wife and I were exploring the old abandoned farm house in Alberta where she grew up. Among other things, we found three old Eaton’s catalogues in excellent condition, all from 1962. Eaton’s was Canada’s major department store until it folded in 1999. We took those catalogues home and now I’ve started scanning them, comparing some of the things for sale then and the equivalents today.

springsummercoverredo
Eaton Spring and Summer 1962

Summer Eaton's Catalogue 1962
Eaton Summer Sale Catalogue 1962

Eaton's Christmas 1962 Catalogue
Eaton Christmas Catalogue 1962

While a price comparison is interesting, what is even more interesting to me is the change in styles and fashions, as well as the changes in  technology. Back then women wore flouncy dresses and skirts and one piece bathing suits. Men wore undershirts and tighty whiteys. Home videos were shot on 8 millimeter film and projected with a Bell and Howell projector.

Summer - page 7 excerpt
Casual wear for teen girls from the Summer 1962 Eaton’s catalogue. The equivalent prices in today’s dollars are $70.73, $53.74 and $72.15. (1962 price X 8.07). Comparative prices for similar clothes today? Hard to say as prices vary from vendor to vendor and it is hard to gauge quality. New women’s dresses at The Bay range from $16.80 to hundreds of dollars. At Sears, $8.94 and up. A recent TV ad for fashions from Joe Fresh advertised summer dresses at $29 each. So a direct comparison is impossible.

Some products haven’t changed much other than price. Some have undergone tremendous changes in style. And technology has rendered many products obsolete.

tighty whiteys page 72-SS
Tighty whiteys including undershirts were popular in 1962. These featured in the Summer Sale Catalogue sold for 87¢, 97¢ and $1.00, tops and briefs sold separately. In today’s dollar, those would be $7.02, $7.82 and $8.07. Today you can usually get three pairs for $9.99. The question for me , though, is why is the guy on the right holding a golf club and what the heck is that gizmo the guy in the middle is holding.

In making my comparisons, I’ll be using current department stores and big box stores for equivalent products. Sears, the Bay, Best Buy, etc. I’ll be using Canadian pricing. And I’ll be using Canadian CPI stats to give the prices adjusted for inflation.

film set SS page 256
This is a mid-range film set including camera and projector from Kodak. High end cameras alone went as high as $189.73. That $119.50 price tag in today’s dollars would be $964.37. Today you get a movie camera in your portable telephone. You can buy a movie camera for under $100. It does not need film or expensive processing . You record on a digital memory card and play it back on your computer. You can hook your computer up to your large screen television and play it there if you want.

Navigating the Catalogues

I have posted the front and back covers and the first ten pages of each catalogue already. Click on the Catalogues link above and you get a menu that shows the covers of the three catalogues with links to each. Clicking on a link brings up the front cover of the catalogue as a full page. Underneath you will find a link to go to the next page. So you can start at page one of a catalogue and go through it sequentially.

But since each blog post will reference specific pages, I have also included a page menu that let’s you go to specific pages without having to cycle through the entire catalogue to get there.

Note that while this website is created using WordPress, which uses the php programming language and is database driven, the catalogues themselves are in standard html. I did this because I want the catalogue pages to be self-contained without the header or sidebars that come with the WordPress website. Each catalogue page has two links at the top to get you back to the main website – a Home Button and a Catalogue Button.

Methodology and CPI

For general notes on the methodology for comparing prices then and now, click on the Methodology link above. The CPI link will give you a detailed history of the Consumer Price Indices from Canada, the United States, Australia, Japan and the United Kingdom from 1960 to the present.

We Rock

There is also a link called We Rock. Because the dot com, dot org, and dot net extensions were all taken, I used the new extension of dot rocks to register this website. So I thought I would include a list of the Billboard Music Charts from its inception in 1958 to the present. Just click on the appropriate link to see what songs were on the hit parade for the day you were born, or your children were born, or your parents.

Creating the Online Catalogues

To create the online catalogue pages take a bit of work. Most scanners, including mine, cannot handle the size of a catalogue page so I have to go through a few steps to prepare them. First I scan the upper half of a page, then the lower half. I save these as jpegs.

Then I open each jpeg with Adobe Photoshop and trim off the excess parts as the scanner cover is open during scanning and records a blank section or a part of a facing page with each scan. I also straighten each picture if necessary.

Once they have been trimmed, I use a program called Scan ‘n’ Stitch to join the two pages together into one large page. I also straighten the finished page if necessary.

Finally I open the finished page in Adobe Photoshop and trim away any remaining excess and do some cosmetic fixing of blemishes – usually on the edges.

Please note that the catalogues are thick and bulky and cannot be laid completely flat for scanning, so the inner edges may be curved and partially illegible. I could fix this by taking an X-acto knife and cutting the pages out of the catalogues before scanning them but I do not want to dismember the catalogues in this way.

This Blog

In future blog posts I will post pictures from the catalogue covering one segment of items for sale – e.g. ladies’ dresses, men’s shoes, children’s wear, garden tools, cameras and video equipment, televisions and radios, home appliances, etc. Eaton’s sold just about everything. The Spring and Summer catalogue is a prairie edition and has a couple of dozen pages of seeds for farmers.

Each post will feature pictures, comparison of the price then with what it would cost in today’s dollar, and, if possible, the price of a similar product today, comparison of tech specs when available, and some commentary.

I welcome feedback on what I hope will be a fascinating and entertaining project.




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