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If you’re nodding in recognition, you’re a lucky owner of George Leonard Herter’s farrago “Bull Cook and Authentic Historical Recipes and Practices” — one of the greatest oddball masterpieces in this or any other language. A surly sage, gun-toting Minnesotan and All-American crank — the kind of guy who would take his own sandwiches to Disneyland because the restaurants were No Damned Good — Herter wrote books on such disparate topics as candy making, marriage advice, African safaris and household cleaning.

Where could you find these books? Not in any fancy bookstore, friend. No, you needed a Herter’s sporting goods catalog. Starting in 1937 from atop his father’s dry-goods shop in Waseca, Minn., Herter over the next four decades built a mail-order sporting goods juggernaut. The arrival of the Herter’s catalog was like Christmas with bullets. Need a bird’s-eye maple gunstock? Check. How about a Herter’s Famous Raccoon Death Cry Call? Just two dollars. Fiberglass canoes? Got you covered. The catalog, which the former Waseca printer Wayne Brown recalls started as three-ring binder supplements, grew so popular — about 400,000 or 500,000 copies per run, he estimates — that Brown Printing became one of the country’s largest commercial printers.
via vz
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