Saturday, August 5, 2017

Vincent Price Brought Rembrandt and Picasso to Sears!

In the early 1960s, department store giant Sears-Roebuck undertook a major new enterprise. The store management wanted to add fine art to its inventory, so that everyday people could have real, unique artistic creations in their homes, instead of the mass-produced reproductions stores usually offered. To help plan and carry out this audacious marketing idea, Sears joined forces with Vincent Price.  Not only did Price find great merit in the idea, he also became instrumental in making it happen.  Sears gave him a generous budget with which to scour the earth for both classic, existing art as well as new works by unknown artists of merit.  Wife Mary actually framed many of the works that ended up in Sears showrooms.  Vincent would make good use of his time abroad filming by scouting for artworks for Sears.  The collection, called The Vincent Price Collection of Fine Art, was offered in select stores around the country, and at traveling exhibits to smaller stores.  By the time the program ended in 1971, more than 50,000 pieces of original art had been sold to the American public.

Many of the less-valuable pieces sold during the program show up on eBay for just a few dollars, more valuable as a reminder of this daring experiment.


Here is a piece I purchased on eBay for just a few dollars.  A printing block, mounted and framed (probably by Mary Price), with a brief description and identifying label on the back.

Following is a complete catalog from 1964 with an incredible array of offerings.  Note the prices, and consider how much many of these pieces would be worth today!

For those wishing to discover more about the Sears Vincent Price Collection of Fine Art, there's a brief history at the Sears-Roebuck Archives site.

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