Money-Making Hobbies (from 1938)

Note: For a modern look at this topic, check out six tips for money-making hobbies.

What would Get Rich Slowly have been like if it were produced seventy years ago? Maybe something like this. (Or maybe not.) All text and illustrations from Money-Making Hobbies by A. Frederick Collins, published 1938 by D. Appleton-Century Company. I am not making this up. Enjoy!


A Word to You
It is my private opinion publicly expressed that there is no need for any man or woman who is compos mentis to belong to the file of the great unemployed whether or not there is a recession on. This statement is based on the premise that every normal person is endowed by omniscient Nature with the innate ability to do some one thing well, and by dint of application to do it exceedingly well.

Now along whatever track of endeavor this faculty of yours may happen to run, you can convert it into a living wage, and often into a paying business, if you will but take your horse by the reins and fan it right out of the gate and keep on fanning it.

Things You Can Make Out of Paper


What are called surrealistic flowers are also made of crepe paper, but, while they look like flowers, Nature in her most cockeyed mood never made a species of them that were quiet so fanciful and intriguing as these hybrid concoctions of imagination and paper. One of these is the button-button tree, and, as you see, it looks like a Walt Disney Silly Symphony.


Making Corrugated Cardboard AnimalsSurrealists love these animals because they are totally unlike any that ever trod the earth, and yet they look enough like certain species to be recognizable. All that you need to make them with is a little imagination, a few strips of corrugated cardboard which is not too heavy and is smooth on one side and corrugated on the other, and some strands of pulled crape for the hair, the heads, and the tails.



How to Dress Windows — If you have an eye for color, a sense for proportion, and ideas for striking effects, here is a winner and one that will net you a fair percentage. It is, in a word, dressing windows with crepe paper and cellophane…Obviously, the subject is such a big one that I can’t go into details of how to do it here, but if you are interested in its money-making possibilities, [then send away for another book].

Things You Can Make of Cellophane
There are a hundred or more things that you can make of cellophane, the outstanding ones of which are:

  1. book jackets
  2. rope-craft articles
  3. crocheted belts, collars, and hats
  4. woven belts, bracelets, and handbags
  5. lamp shades
  6. Manon Lescaut dolls [ed. — what does this mean?]
  7. glassip bird-cages and model houses [ed. — “glassip”?]
  8. party favors
  9. party table decorations
  10. fancy costumes


Weaving with cellophane ribbon is at once so simple and interesting and the results so striking and useful that you should lose no time in taking it up as a money-making hobby.

Party Favors and Table Decorations — If you will broadcast it around your locality that your hobby is making party favors and decorating party tables, you will find that your efforts will be most welcome here, there, and everywhere, but instead of doing it out of the kindness of your heart, just let it be known that you make a small charge to “defray expenses”, and you’ll get the business equally as well.


Making Cellophane Fancy Costumes — You can make the most gorgeous and spectacular fancy costumes by using cellophane instead of crepe paper, and they are just as easy to make as the latter.

Money-Making Printing Hobbies


Printing a Cook-Book — This is a sure-fire plan to make money with your printing press in a rural community or a small town. Get every woman in your church, society, or in town, to write down the recipe of one or more of her favorite dishes and sign her name to it. When you have fifty, a hundred, or more recipes print them on good white paper, bind them together in book form so that it will look interesting, and put an attractive cover on it.

You are now prepared to deliver your books and make your collections, and the way to do this is to interview every woman who has a recipe in it. Show it to her with her name printed over or under her recipe, and if she is like the other 99 wise women, she must needs have a copy and the money is yours — 25 or 50 cents a copy is not too much to charge for it.

Money-Making Photo Hobbies


Photography is one of the very best bets that I know of as a money-making hobby, and there are certainly fifty or more branches of it that are being used to-day as money getters. Now it is not my intention to go into all the different phases of it here, but what I shall do is to tell you about a few branches of it that, in my humble opinion, offer you the best opportunities to gather in shekels, with the smallest outlay for the necessary equipment…

I have selected five branches of photography that you can do with ordinary skill, comparatively inexpensive apparatus, and a minim outlay other than that of your own time. Named, these branches are:

  1. architectural photography
  2. home portraiture
  3. miniature portraits
  4. press photography
  5. photo-murals

Money-Making Entertainment Hobbies

Now there must be some kind of specialty or act that you can do and like to better than any of the others for the simple reason that you have a yen for it, and this is the one that you should, by all means, cultivate. I can’t go into all the various entertainment hobbies here, but I will tell you about three of them that you can make money out of, if you play the game according to the rules of business: music, mimicry, and magic.


The harmonica has always been a favorite with boys, and many of them keep on playing it when they grow up. The reason it has proved so popular is that it is of vest-pocket size, can be bought for a quarter, and can be easily learned. Since the hill-billies made their appearance on the air, the harmonica has taken on an added interest, and in Sonja Henie‘s picture, One in a Million, a quartet of harmonicists have shown that it possesses potential possibilities that had heretofore been undreamt of. All of the radio and picture harmonica players were once hobbyists; from this amateur standing they graduated into the professional class and are now making money.


To give a performance all by yourself at churches, clubs, etc., you must have a portable instrument of some kind, that is, one you can carry around with you and handle yourself, and the musical glasses fulfill these to a nicety… As a musical instrument, it requires a minimum amount of skill to learn to play and it makes the most beautiful sounds imaginable &mash; like those you would expect to hear in the celestial abode of the angels.




Money-Making Musical Hobbies — There are, as you know, numerous kinds of musical instruments, but the five chief ones that are best suited for the soloists are the harmonica, the musical glasses, the piano accordion, the marimba, and the harp.


The Punch and Judy Show — This is one of the oldest of the make-believe show, and is just as popular to-day as it ever was. Punch, as you will recall, has an enormous beak; he is at once the cleverest and meanest of all villains and the hero of the performance. Judy, his better, or rather his worst half, is an equally grotesque character, and what with their lively wit and squeaky voices they provide fun galore for not only the kiddies but the grown-ups as well.


The Ventriloquial Act — The art of ventriloquism consists chiefly of imitating the sounds of man and the lower animals and of various instruments, and apparently making them come from some source other than your own larynx.

Money-Making Silvercraft Hobbies


There is an indescribable charm about primitive hand-made jewelry that is wholly lacking in the most finished work which is turned out by civilize artisans and modern machinery. Thus, if you lay a Tiffany ring and a crudely fashioned one made by a Navajo Indian side by side, the former will be admired for its exquisite workmanship, but it will not emotionally excite the esthetic sense of the observer as will the latter. Since this is the way of it, you can make jewelry which is a close approximation of that produced by the Indians of the Southwest and, while it is simulated, still the prospective buyer will be intrigued with it.

Money-Making Weaving Hobbies

Weaving is not only one of the oldest crafts in the world but it is, next to agriculture, the most useful one as well. At the present time it is going stronger than ever, and it will continue to be in the vanguard of crafts as long as men have need of clothes and women love finery.


A watch fob is, as you probably know, a short chain, ribbon, or strand, one end of which is placed in the fob, or little pocket in a man’s trousers just below the waistband; the other end hangs free and very often carries an ornament of some kind.

Money-Making Woodworking Hobbies


Lawn and Garden Ornaments — In the good old days when the Floradora Sextette was in vogue, the lawn of the rich man’s home always had one or more life-size iron deer on it ot relieve the green monotony of the grassy expanse. Time marches on and like the original Floradora girls, the iron deer has vanished into the dim an distant past and now the strip-tease artists are in the spotlight, and painted wooden cut-outs of various specimens of the animal kingdom are seen on the lawns of Everyman.


The first things that Man ever fashioned with his hands were made of wood and it follows that woodworking is the oldest of all the crafts. Since this is true the natural desire and the innate ability to use tools are inborn in every one to some extent, and whether or not these qualities are developed in a concrete form depends on numerous factors and circumstances. At the present writing, woodworking is one of the five chief hobbies, and you can not only get a lot of pleasure out of it for your own edification, but you can, as thousands of other craftsmen are doing, make money out of it, if you care to do so.

Money-Making Model-Building Hobbies


There is something about a miniature model that has a great fascination for young and old alike, and if you have the knack of making good ones, you will always find buyers who will pay fancy prices for them.


How to Build Model Ships — Model ships are quite the vogue at the present time and as you can easily and quickly build them you should get busy and cash in on them while the cashing is good.

The Art of Electroplating


Plating is one of the most interesting and lucrative hobbies of the various branches of electricity that you can take up, for nearly every one has some metal article that he or she would like to have done over and made to look new.

Money-Making Radio Hobbies


In the early days of radio every one who had a receiving set must needs know a little about it so that if and when it should refuse to percolate he could make whatever adjustment was necessary, or repair it when it went blooey. To-day things are quite different, for the great majority of those who own radio receivers haven’t the faintest idea how they are made or work, and they don’t have to, for when anything happens to them all they need to do is to send for a service man (the word repair is now archaic, the word service having taken its place) and he will put it in order pronto and, naturally, he collects for doing so.

I purchased this book for $1 from the library book sale last October. I spent several hours scanning and re-typing these excerpts. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did. If you enjoyed this, why not subscribe to the Get Rich Slowly feed?

Note: For a modern look at this topic, check out six tips for money-making hobbies.

More about...Books, Side Hustles

Become A Money Boss And Join 15,000 Others

Subscribe to the GRS Insider (FREE) and we’ll give you a copy of the Money Boss Manifesto (also FREE)

Yes! Sign up and get your free gift
Become A Money Boss And Join 15,000 Others

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*