Artifact and Analysis

Furnace Salesman's Kit, 1920s


As a salesman for the Holland Furnace Company, Walter G. Bennett used this demonstration kit to sell warm-air furnaces to homeowners during the 1920s. The case contains a scale model and a cast-iron section of the furnace itself.

During the 1920s, it was common practice for consumers to receive demonstrations of various products and appliances in their own homes. This was part of a new trend in salesmanship that had emerged in the late nineteenth century, emphasizing customer service as the key to a successful business. Many companies began training their salespeople not just to sell the product, but also to educate and serve the consumer.