If you have not heard of Catalog No.439, it’s a good chance you were not alive when it came out. In the 30’s DeMoulin Bros. & Co. created a catalog of practical joke devices and oddities. Seems folks back then had a good sense of humor. You could buy the reprint book for nostalgic reasons from Fantagraphics or view it online for free.
Do you wish to separate the jolly good fellows from the dour sour pusses from those who seek to ASCEND TO THEIR SIDE DEGREES — but you suffer from lack of imagination when it comes to constructing elaborate hazing rituals and DEVICES? Does fake vomit, joy buzzers and a party pack of fake moustaches only produce yawns, rather than giggles, among your once-merry members? Well, look no further than Catalog No. 439: Burlesque Paraphernalia and Side Degree Specialties and Costumes, in which the manufacturers De Moulin Bros. & Co. from Greenville, Ill. feature the finest electro-dropo benches, goat-shaped tricycles, electric branding irons (and much much more)!
Not only does this 1930 catalog, reproduced with marvelous 21st century machinery, provide tightly rendered pen-and-ink period illustrations and detailed product descriptions, it also has helpful how-tos and scripts to aid in the pulling of these pranks on initiates!
(WARNING: Fantagraphics Books is in no way responsible for any resultant maiming, crippling, immolation, or disfigurement resulting from the construction and/or use of devices pictured in this catalogue. At least, we don’t think so.)
Today, DeMoulin Bros. & Co. is one of the largest suppliers of costumes for marching bands in the United States. But in 1930 the company produced an amazing array of props and devices created specifically to be used in minor “hazing” of candidates in the side degrees of various fraternal organizations. The great 1930 DeMoulin Bros. & Company Fraternal Supply Catalog No. 439 is truly a holy grail for the prankster, arm-chair sadist and those interested in the some of the zanier historic arcana lurking behind that neighborhood odd-fellows lodge.
This is the ultimate desert-island book for pranksters looking for something edgy and new to dream about, Rube Goldberg-like devices created to instill terror and bemused respect, before the candidate ascends to receive a more sublime form of illumination. All in good fun, it is — or was — the American way!