Another nostalgic rambling post
I’m afraid because on Friday morning as I went to pick up the post there on the doormat was something I hadn’t seen for over 30 years, a catalogue from Joke Shop by Post
! I was delighted, these catalogues shaped my life opening my eyes to the wonderful world of practical jokes and novelties! A world of hand buzzers, squirting flowers, whoopee cushions and horror masks
! I knew about them having seen the ads in various Marvel comics but I couldn’t order them, they were either out of date or limited to the US customers only. But now I could order them! I would read these catalogues over and over, committing them to memory and then promptly save up all my pocket money and get my mother to convert them into postal orders for me! Happy times! Joke Shop by Post was the brainchild of one Mr Andrew Mulcahy
, who having read ‘The Lazy Mans Way to Riches
’ by Jo Karbo in the early 1970’s was inspired to start his own mail order business. He wrote a book aimed at teenage boys on how to get 100 Girlfriends and started selling it by mail order advertising in various pop and football magazines. Be a Hit with Your Friends
’ which featured a list of practical jokes (stink bombs, joke teeth etc). As the orders for jokes started to come in he followed it with a second renaming it ‘Jokers Corner
’ and running it under Matchrite Publications.The Bargain Place for Lots of Fun
’). They even combined forces with TV prankster, the late Jeremy Beadle
in creating his Jeremy Beadles guide to Practical Joking
video (find out more here
). They continued to advertise in comics and this is where I came in, having seen their advert in Whizzer and Chips
, I sent away for a free catalogue and when it arrived I was amazed at the range of products available.
I buried my nose in the catalogue, filled with excitement and plots at revenge occasionally looking up and disgusting my mother by listing products such as Sick in Gift Box (‘give to mother, girlfriend or sister
’). When I took it to school however it had the reverse effect and the catalogue would be regularly passed around at break times and orders would be combined to save on postage. As I did this I harboured aspirations of someday running my own joke shop (in later life I got fairly close to doing so, but that’s something for another day) I had big plans on joining the Jokers Corner Club and becoming a Matchrite agent but it all just stopped. I’m not sure why, I never stopped buying practical jokes. According to their website
, having sent out over 1 million catalogues it seemed that the joke market fell into decline during the 1990’s but interest in magic tricks increased and so Joke Shop by Post became Magic by Post
. Their adverts appeared instead in specialist magazines until the advent of the Internet when they became one of the first magic shops (if not the first) to have a website
and that’s where you will find them today selling to magicians all around the world. They still sell jokes too so be sure to check them out
and restock on Disappearing Ink, Sneeze Powder, glow in the dark snot and Blood Capsules!
My sincere thanks to Mr Andrew Mulcahy for 40 years
of supplying us all with these gags and novelties and making our childhood fun.
© Arfon Jones 2015. All images are copyrighted throughout the world
I think I may still have an old Ellisdon's catalogue somewhere, AJ. (In fact, I'm sure I do.) I got a Frankenstein mask from it, and probably one or two other things. I'm surprised to learn that they went out of business in 1980 'though. In my advanced state of decay, that date still seems far too recent to me. There's a fancy dress shop just around the corner from me which also sells jokes and gags. That's where I got my X-ray specs from, I think. (It was either there or Tam Shepherd's in Glasgow.)ReplyDelete
Ah X-ray specs I had some too an excellent gag! I have a vintage pair in the packaging hanging up by my desk. “far too recent to me” I know what you mean I never thought I would look at these catalogues as relics from the past! I fancy trying to track down some Ellisdon's catalogues out of curiosity.Delete
A fancy dress shop will open close to us from time to time but they never last long. When they do they usually stock Smiffys stuff (Id like to do a follow up to this about Smiffys) I had their catalogue about 12 years back and it lacked the charm of this one somehow… Before I discovered these catalogues I recall at least one joke shop near us (give you an idea of the year I bought an ET mask from there…) I used to attend a lot of agricultural shows in the 80’s and 90’s and would always find a jokes and novelties stall that I would hang around! Happy Days!
The shop around the corner from me was called Smiffy's, I'm sure, but I don't know if it still is. I'll have to check the next time I'm passing. My X-ray Specs are actually called 'X-ray Gogs', but they're the same idea, just a different brand. Tam Shepherd's in Glasgow, by the way, has been in the same place for over 100 years.Delete
Yeah, mine are X-ray Gogs too (packaging has child looking at his skeletal hand, kids running over to see, cat in the distance) The image I remember however was the one on the back regarding a fashion show... ;) Isn't it great to think that a novelty and jokes shop could be 100 years of age? Brilliant stuff!Delete
Hey Arfon this was my dads (Andrew Mulcahy's) joke shop by post business. It was so lovely to read your 'nostalgic rambling post' and it brought back lots of memories for me as a child wanting to earn some pocket money and my dad giving me (and my brothers) the task of bagging up huge piles of soap sweets for £5. We actually quite liked the taste of them!!ReplyDelete
My friends thought it was brilliant that my dad had a joke shop and we would take many freebies into school to get a laugh. Halloween was a particular favourite where dad would supply me and my brothers with the best (and really quite terrifying) outfits
and scary jokes.
Our mum used to be in on the action too and she'd be the one folding up and packing the catelougues into self addressed envelopes. We'd come home from school to find a big mountain of brown envelopes ready to be posted off.
Dad's moved with the times and it's all online now with the magic but that image of the joke shop by post catalogue will always be a special part of mine and so many kids childhoods. Thanks for sharing your post and my dad enjoyed reading it too.
Hello Helen! Thanks for posting! Delighted that you (and your dad) enjoyed reading my nostalgic rambling post. It must have been great having a dad that gave you all those freebies. I've frequented the magic site of late (buying various tricks and gags for my daughter in fact) I am so pleased that this brought back memories for you, thanks for getting in touch! :)Delete
Helen your dad is a legend!Delete
Kids today will sadly never understand the joys of mail order... :)
I would dearly love to know what the 'deliberate mistake' was that we were to search for in the catalogue. This occupied a considerable amount of my time as a child in the 80s, and I must have sent in several attempts - including the hypothesis that there was indeed no deliberate mistake other than the question itself! No luck though...ReplyDelete