The Consolation List: Weird Gifts Rich People Buy

You may not have money, but at least you have taste

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It's December in the West: so it begins. There's the list of gifts you'll actually get people, the list of gifts you wish you could get for people, the list of gifts you wish people would get for you, and so forth. Certain things are, for most people,  a bit too costly.

There's also that other favorite holiday pastime: the spotting of gifts that really are prohibitively expensive--way out of one's range--and that one might not even get if one could afford them. Already, bloggers and journalists have come up with a few items for that list, too.

  • 'This Year's Must-Have Rich People Christmas Gift'  What is it? According to Gawker's Brian Moylan, "expensive modern art." Apparently, the "ultra-fancy Miami craft fair Art Basel" has already seen "plenty of people buying five-figure photography prints as holiday gifts."
  • The Things You Find in Catalogs  The Weekly Standard's Victorino Matus is a victim of that irritating trend: companies selling each others' mailing lists to one another. "Eventually," he explains, "you start receiving catalogs from places of which you've never heard. Our house now gets one from a place called Frontgate: 'Outfitting America's Finest Homes.'" Thus did he stumble upon the "Marie Antoinette Pet Bed," which "draw[s] inspiration from French antique furniture" in order to produce what looks like a beige, satin bordello piece for Chihuahuas. " And all for the modest price of $699," marvels Matus dryly. "Depending on the number of these pet beds purchased," he muses, "perhaps we can take it as a positive sign that economic conditions are improving. Either that or the apocalypse is at hand."
  • The 100-Year Anniversary of an Even Weirder Order  While Matus ponders the curiosities of modern December catalogs, The Wall Street Journal's Lauren Goode has dived deep into the realm of historical mail-order monstrosities. Apparently, ", an online repository of historical records and web service for building family trees, has spent the past year working with retail conglomerate Sears Holdings Corp. to archive over 250,000 pages of Sears, Roebuck & Company fall and spring season catalogs spanning from 1896 to 1993." Early telephones and TVs are included, but also something called "Boss Pig Extractor Forceps" (1901). Of course, these weren't specifically holiday-themed catalogs, though it's certainly plausible that some of the items found their way into red and green wrapping paper at some point. Here's one to ponder: "Entire houses were listed in the 1910 catalog; Customers could purchase a home-building kit for $2,000." According to the inflation calculators we were able to find, that comes out to about $45,000 in present-day bucks--a steal by some standards, but nevertheless quite a thing to leave under a Christmas tree.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.