Cover image for Imagining consumers : design and innovation from Wedgwood to Corning
Imagining consumers : design and innovation from Wedgwood to Corning
Blaszczyk, Regina Lee.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Baltimore, Md. : Johns Hopkins University Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
xiii, 380 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm.
Format :


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Material Type
Home Location
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HD9620.5.T333 U63 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Imagining Consumers tells for the first time the story of American consumer society from the perspective of mass-market manufacturers and retailers. It relates the trials and tribulations of china and glassware producers in their contest for the hearts of the working- and middle-class women who made up more than eighty percent of those buying mass-manufactured goods by the 1920s. Based on extensive research in untapped corporate archives, Imagining Consumers supplies a fresh appraisal of the history of American business, culture, and consumerism. Case studies illuminate decision making in key firms -- including the Homer Laughlin China Company, the Kohler Company, and Corning Glass Works -- and consider the design and development of ubiquitous lines such as Fiesta tableware and Pyrex Ovenware.

Author Notes

Regina Lee Blaszczyk is an assistant professor of history and American studies at Boston University.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Blaszczyk (Brown Univ.) draws on her years of experience on the research staff at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History to write this thoroughly researched, beautifully written, and carefully analyzed study of consumerism. With case studies of prominent glasswork and pottery firms, the author describes how they attempted to satisfy Americans' often fickle demand for goods. When comparing successes such as Homer Laughlin's Fiesta dinnerware with failures such as the Kohler Company's Color Ware line of plumbing fixtures, the ability to imagine the tastes of the consumer stands out. Most of this volume examines the rich variety of fashion intermediaries who relayed what consumers would buy to those who would manufacture it. These fashion intermediaries had to confront changes in markets, from male to female, rural to urban, and increasingly from elite to less well heeled purchasers. Like Philip Scranton's Endless Novelty: Specialty Production and American Industrialization, 1865-1925 (CH, Apr'98), Imagining Consumers informs readers about the majority of American firms--flexible producers who struggled to survive in the competitive environment of American business. Highly recommended for upper-division undergraduate through professional collections. D. Lindstrom; University of Wisconsin--Madison

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introductionp. 1
1 Cinderella Storiesp. 14
2 China Maniap. 52
3 Beauty for a Dimep. 89
4 Fiesta!p. 127
5 Better Products for Better Homesp. 168
6 Pyrex Pioneersp. 208
7 Easier Living?p. 249
Conclusionp. 272
List of Abbreviationsp. 277
Notesp. 283
Essay on Sourcesp. 345
Indexp. 365