W.B. Conkey Company

Conkey Kids stand outside with their lunch pails waiting to go to work in the early morning hours of 1908.


Who published the first
Sears Roebuck catalog?

Few Hammond citizens know that the very first Sears Roebuck Catalog was published in Hammond, Indiana in 1898 at the W.B. Conkey Company on Conkey Street in Hammond, Indiana.

Mr. Roebuck was a young watch maker  from Hammond who answered a Chicago newspaper ad placed by Mr. Sears who was interested in starting a business. The two men started the Sears Roebuck company. Wanting to publish a catalogue, Mr. Roebuck called his Hammond friend, W.B. Conkey, and the rest is history.

How did Sears and Roebuck get together? Click here to find out more...



The W. B. Conkey Company was located Hammond, Indiana and boasted as being the most modern and best equipped printing plant in the world. During its early years in the city from 1906 to 1908 it held claim to being the largest printing plant in the world.

In 1898 the company built on a nine acre site in what was the outskirts of the town of Hammond.

After the original owner and president Mr. Conkey died in 1923, his son Henry P. Conkey took over controlling interest of the company. Rather then pursuing to have the largest plant on the globe, his son sought to have the most modern and well equipped facility, so he could manufacture books at the least possible cost.

    Numerous types of catalogs and books were printed at the plant. The list included text books, biographies, encyclopedias, fiction, Bibles, brochures and special hand made volumes. The equipment was so modern, "that the company could set up and produce a 160 - page book within 24 hours."

The facility had the ability to produce 40,000 books a day. Two railcar loads of paper were used every eight hours. The Conkey Company gave employment to 550 workers in 1935. Many Hammond High School graduates found their first jobs with Conkey publishing.

Source information from the microfilms of The Times newspapers at the Hammond Public Library