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TERMS:  A short list from our Design department, documenting the development of the office, as a genre of modern space. This list is composed mostly of visual materials, because the Cloud forgets in images. Purchases are guaranteed to be catalogued, shipped, and delivered to the collector's satisfaction. Returns are eligible within 10 days of receipt. Reciprocal terms are extended to the trade; institutional policies are accommodated. Prices are issued in USD; sold items will be marked as such regularly. Shipping is charged at cost. Various forms of payment are accepted. Phone (416-729-7043) or email ( for acquisition inquiries; priority is given to first interest. Our next list (Brains!) concerns the subject of phrenology. Quotes of relevant materials are still welcomed. Subscribe to be added to the mailing list. And visit our booth (409) at the upcoming ABAC fair at the Art Gallery of Ontario.
W. L. MERRILL (photographer)
[Group portrait of anonymous workers posed outside factory office].  As sold from the Merrill studio in Norway, Maine, circa 1907.
300 USD

Large silver print photograph (180 x 238 mm.); shows retouching in negative. Backed onto blind-stamped photographer's mount, with loss to corners and some staining; not affecting print.
In 1908, the photographer W. L. Merrill of Norway, Maine is recorded as having leased the studio in nearby Bethel, replacing his colleague who'd taken-up residence in the Hebron Sanitarium. Presumably just before this move, Merrill was selling the print imaged above from his Norway studio (as per the blind stamp to its mount). This group's portrait, as an example in the genre of labour photography, has a particularly militant tone. In 1907 Maine, the mood was red hot, with an IWW strike at a textile factory in nearby Skowhegan winning all of its demands, including an honest day's pay for an honest day's work.
END OF LOT 01   Contact for purchase inquiries.
[Group of promotional postcards for the Met Life Home Office building, accompanied by production photograph].  New York, 1897–1908

Group of 11 colour postcards after photographs; all but one circa 1897, with printed versos declaring the postcards: "Compliments of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, Home Office, New York City." Address fields blank. The eleventh postcard (also unposted) is from a later promotional campaign; featuring the newly-constructed Met Life Tower. Its verso printed with both address and correspondence fields, containing an eight line message that cleverly corresponds to a modern manicule to recto; dated 1908. Postcards accompanied by a vintage black-and-white production print (180 x 230 mm.), with editorial notes to thin margins. A typescript caption affixed to verso identifies the print as The Audit Division of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., New York, 1897 (as sourced from Met Life's Weekly bulletin).
In 1893, the Home Office of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company reached its first stage of completion. It would continue to expand over the next decade, with an increasing appetite for clerical labour, buying up adjacent plots and leases. The Home Office's "expandability" was built-into its very DNA by the architects at Napoleon Le Brun & Sons; a firm perhaps best known for its church designs (and not without irony). In 1897, standing right next to the Parkhurst Presbyterian church, Met Life could already declare that its Home Office was then "the largest office building in the world." And it's certainly grandeur that this group of postcards seeks to promote, with a set of exteriors simulating the feeling from the top of the Home Office building followed by interior views of grand lobbies and a largely female labour force. Finally, in 1905, the Church itself was acquired and leveled—to be replaced by Met Life Tower, then-being the "tallest permanent structure in the world" at seven hundred feet.
Providing a different angle on this marketing campaign—in which an insurance company was promoting its size, rather than hiding behind a gecko—these postcards are accompanied by a vintage production print, originally sourced from the souvenir issue of Met Life's Weekly bulletin (1897).
END OF LOT 02   Contact for purchase inquiries.
LEON B. MURRAY, C. & M. E. (firm)
... Designers of reinforced concrete buildings.  Boston, circa 1915.

Four leaves, in oblong format (14 x 21 cm.), with illustrated front panel (from a "view of reinforced concrete factory building"). Contents illustrated with another 4 halftone photographic images. The printed text concludes with the name of the Eastern Engineering Company; here over-stamped by the Boston address of the newly re-modeled Murray firm.
This brochure for the Leon B. Murray firm begins with assured reference to the firm's pedigree, having only recently been renamed after twelve years of experience. The remainder of the brochure attempts to inspire clients to build their buildings as modernists would. "With buildings designed of concrete, it is very inexpensive to procure large light areas, thereby making the interior of the building nearly as light and agreeable as the open air." Well-illustrated; including a halftone of the Ingolis building—constructed in 1912 as the first office building to be built from reinforced concrete. Other halftones being: "View showing interior of factory building;" "View showing concrete girders spanning one hundred feet;" and "View of reinforced concrete highway bridge." With no OCLC records discovered.
END OF LOT 03   Contact for purchase inquiries.
GLANVILLE, GEORGE (photographer)  /  MARK FAWCETT & CO. (firm)
[The fireproof floors on Fawcett's system].  Tunbridge Wells, Kent, circa 1890.

Albumen print photograph (152 x 205 mm.), affixed to plain mount, which features manuscript credits below print. The edges of the mount being rather chipped, without affecting print (save for clip to top-right corner). With an inscription to verso identifying one of the subjects as "Great Grandfather Hogan."
This staged promotional photo captures five workers on location, standing behind a life-sized business card for Mark Fawcett & Co. of Westminster. To the centre of the image, three managers are positioned in discourse (presumably one of them matching up to the "Great Grandfather Hogan" inscription to verso). What's on display: Fawcett's system for constructing fireproof floors (i.e. ceilings). Gaining patent in 1888, Fawcett built his system upon "flanged tubular lintels" to greatly reduce the risk of the office floor catching fire. This patent would be subject to lawsuit in 1896. Behind the camera was George Glanville, who otherwise worked in the tradition of portrait painting, with five of his titles appearing in the database of the National Portrait Gallery. Glanville was himself the subject of lawsuit, filed in 1876 by his assistant Marian Heath; Glanville being found guilty of having fired Heath without proper notice, from a post that paid her 25 shillings per week.
END OF LOT 04   Contact for purchase inquiries.
Office, the Lumsden Mine—Brady Lake, Cobalt, Ontario.  [July, 1914].

Silver gelatin print (105 x 155 mm.), with some artefacting near centre of image. Affixed to photographer's mount, with clear manuscript titles below print. To the verso of the mount: an ink-illustrated map of the mining areas surrounding Lake Brady, in same hand as titles.
The Lumsden mine wouldn't yield real profits until the 1947 discovery of silver-bearing veins beneath Brady Lake. Nonetheless, it had been worked since before the Great War. Visible here, in a photo of its rustic Brady Lake office in the summer of 1914: electric lighting, typewriter, telephone, multiple calendars, paper organizing systems, reference library, absurdly-staged mining samples, guest chairs, big boots (click on icon above for larger view). A copy of the Mining Act of Ontario is affixed to rear of door, while a large framed photograph of Toronto's Lumsden Building rests on the near wall. The map of the Brady Lake ecology that's sketched onto the mount's verso gives this photo the feel of a keepsake for someone back home.
END OF LOT 05   Contact for purchase inquiries.
[Panoramic group of turn-of-the-century office photos].
New York and various places, 1898–1918.

A group of 12 vintage production prints (approx. 180 x 230 mm., plus margins); most with titles to versos, some with editorial notes. Minor surface wear, with some artefacting within prints. Comprising: (1) The George R. Lawrence Co., Interior general office, Swift & Com[p]any, Chicago, 1897 (sourced from Chicago Historical Society; see above); (2) Royal Photo Co., Stephen Barton + others at the N.Y. office of the Central Cuban Relief Committee, 1898 (Library of Congress); (3) Unidentified photographer, Interior of Wells Fargo Office in Columbia, California, 1900 (Wells Fargo Bank, History Room, San Francisco); (4) Frank Bennett Fiske, Chief Clerk's Office, Standing Rock Agency, circa 1900 (North Dakota Heritage Center); two photos by Charles H. Currier, being (5) Interior of an office at 12 Walnut St., Boston and (6) File office of an insurance company (both circa 1900, Library of Congress); two photos by the Byron Company, being (7) New York Edison Company dictaphones, 1906 and (8) H. B. Marinelli [talent agency], 1440 Broadway, 1907 (Byron Collection, Museum of the City of New York); (9) Albert G. Zimmerman, Zimmerman [law] office in Madison, circa 1910 (State Historical Society of Wisconsin); (10) Jesse Tarbox Beals, The Legal Aid Society, N.Y., 1912 (see below); (11) George S. Cook, Richmond Times Dispatch, 1912 (Valentine Museum, Richmond, Virginia); and (12) Pullman Company, Upholstery Dept office, 1918 (Chicago Historical Society).
From the production archives at American heritage magazine, this group of photographs offers a panoramic view of the office landscape of turn-of-the-century America; an environment of civil servants, lawyers, insurance company clerks, journalists, refrigerated meat salesmen, postal workers, and talent agents; of calendars, furniture, costume, and function. Two images in particular deserve commentary: a promotional image of the Red Cross' Cuban Relief Committee, depicting its Chairman, Stephen E. Barton, engaged with his staff. Barton was appointed to the role by his aunt Clara, after she decided to move the Committee's office to New York. Also of note, the image seen above, being a still life from a New York City legal aid office, as captured by one of the first female photojournalists, Jesse Tarbox Beals.
END OF LOT 06   Contact for purchase inquiries.
ROBERTS, ALFRED E. (photographer)
[Killing time].  Any major North American city, 1957.

A photographically-illustrated comic strip, staged during a late night office shift. Single sheet of graph paper (35 x 43 cm.), with corner-slots for sequence of 6 black-and-white photographs (120 x 94 mm., plus margins). The photographs accompanied by manuscript captions in black ink on backing sheet. Each photograph with the photographer's hand-stamp to verso.
END OF LOT 07   Contact for purchase inquiries.
Behind the payroll: supervised time control.  New York, [1928].

Staple-bound illustrated wrappers (28 cm. tall), featuring die-cut window, revealing image of clock underneath. Contents well-illustrated and printed in orange and black, with side-tabs dividing the work into five sections (Recording, Indicating, Signaling, Supervising, Certification); 23, [1] pages.
The electronic machines offered here by IBM—such as the automatic payroll machine, the hourly supervised secondary clock, and the automatic signaling program device—function towards the Taylorist ideal of supervised time; "a guardian that protects your profits... Any business, any industry, any department, no matter how well constructed and organized, requires SUPERVISION to keep it functioning at maximum efficiency. That is the executive's job—to step in when irregularities occur, to lead when emergencies arise, and to rectify or correct all upsetting forces and situations." With single OCLC record discovered (Hagley Museum & Library).
END OF LOT 08   Contact for purchase inquiries.
Work simplification manual.  Windsor, Ontario, 1948.

Clothbound three-ring binder (30 cm. tall), with gilt lettering to spine & front panel, consisting of: (1) Programme contents, separated by six session dividers, with a total of 46 leaves of original typescript text (printed rectos only) and 42 leaves of original illustrations, reproduced articles, and work-flow chart templates;  (2) The triangle of plenty; a pamphlet punched for binder. As issued by the Department of Economic Development, Canadian Chamber of Commerce; [12] pages, with colour illustration to front wrapper;  (3) Management the simple way; a pamphlet also punched for binder. Authored by Lawrence A. Appley, as reprinted from the American Management Association's serial Personnel, volume 19, number 4 (1943); 11, [1] pages;  and (4) a loose silver gelatin print photograph (13 x 24 cm), printed on high-gloss sheet (21 x 26 cm.), depicting the managerial architects of the Programme (with left corner worn); name of Harry Meanwell inscribed to verso.
By 1956, Harry B. Meanwell had become the Director of Market Research at the Ford Motor Company of Canada (independent since its incorporation in 1904 as the Walkerville Wagon Works). In 1948, however, Meanwell appears to have been working on the other side of the equation: collaborating with a managerial team to develop a Programme to improve the efficiency of the Company's labour force. According to the introduction, the Company's profit for the previous 22 years "was a little over 3% on each dollar's worth of goods sold. This is substantially less than what was estimated as a fair profit." Hence: work simplification. "Work simplification is not new. It is not a speed-up program. It does not mean asking anyone to work harder or faster. It is a program that should appeal to the intelligent selfishness of every individual, [based on] three primary factors: 1. his desire to solve the problem; his ability to solve it; his capacity for handling the human relations involved." The fruits of this project are present in the well-illustrated contents of this binder, based on the mantra: "Pick the job to be improved. Break down the job in detail."
The binder, which also incorporates two pamphlets, is divided into six sessions, comprising analyses of the Company's situation, summaries of management and cognitive science literature, motivational illustrations, and work-flow templates. The focus on the psychology of workers is particularly noticeable.
END OF LOT 09   Contact for purchase inquiries.
Work space interior design, by Self Help.  Washington, DC, [1975].

Unpublished maquette, comprising 13 leaves of thick card stock, numbered in pencil to verso. Manuscript text inscribed neatly in black ink; contents illustrated by 17 colour photographs, ink illustrations, and a découpage floor plan.
Following the end of the Vietnam War, and the ensuing budget cuts to the U. S. Navy, the role of the Naval Facilities Engineering Command was transformed, with its engineers tasked with looking inwards, rather than overseas. The Chesapeake Division, based at the Washington Navy Yard, was especially concerned with redesigning the Navy's American spaces. Within this context, it appears that the Master Planning Branch of this Division attempted an experiment in self-design; introduced here with a quasi-manifesto: "We believe that the condition and appearance of an office space reflects both the professionalism and design sensitivity of the users of that space. With this belief in mind, we have undertaken a concerted effort to upgrade our spaces using our own talents and energies. The theme of our improvement effort has been individual self expression and participation. In essence it has been design by consensus, and it has worked."
Accomplished mostly after hours, "the work encompassed cleaning house, improving functional arrangements, painting portable partitions and replacing their corrugated fiberglass sections with cork covered masonite, and painting existing furniture and walls. Only chairs and some light fixtures in addition to selected plant materials were purchased." Documented here in the colour photographs (often accompanied by illustrated flourishes) are: the work stations for the Department Head, Planning Services, the Regional Studio, and "Debbie," as well as the Conference Room and Planning Library. It's not clear whether this document was intended only for internal use (as memento), or whether it was created as a maquette for a potential publication. Four years later, the same Chesapeake Division would publish a guide for carpet selection.
END OF LOT 10   Contact for purchase inquiries.
Money in waste paper.  Davenport, Iowa, 1917.

Handsomely-illustrated wrappers (23 cm. tall), signed FLM, printed in red and black, with advertisement to rear for the the fireproof Schick baling press. Stapled-bound contents of 16 pages, well-illustrated from photographs, with additional 2 pages to versos of wrappers. With manuscript calculations made to the catalogue's comparative products spread.
Perhaps more than anything, offices produce paper. And paper ultimately produces waste. Waste that can be managed. "The purpose of this booklet is twofold:—First, to make you realize the enormous loss in waste paper and to show you how this loss can be converted into profit. Second, to show you the safe, easy, satisfactory way to handle waste paper in a profitable manner."  With single OCLC record discovered (Hagley Museum & Library).
END OF LOT 11   Contact for purchase inquiries.
[A blindfolded typing test], after 1901.

Silver print photograph (94 x 122 mm.), mounted to beveled photographer's board.
Before WWI, speed typing had become a competitive sport, with the World Typewriting Championships apparently drawing impressive crowds of spectators (despite the absurd proofreading labour required of the judges).  One of the sport's first legends was Frank Edward McGurrin, a Salt Lake City stenographer, who pioneered the touch typing method in the late 1880s. Able to use all ten of his fingers on the proto-QWERTY keyboard, as opposed to those who still used the inefficient hunt-and-peck method, McGurrin would show-off his technique by competing blindfolded. The machine being used here in this anonymous photo is almost certainly an Underwood No. 5, one of the first truly mass typewriters, introducing the sound of speed into the everyday office.
END OF LOT 12   Contact for purchase inquiries.
An automatic mail exchange system.  New York, [1911].
350 USD

A photographically-illustrated wire story. With two pages of typescript text, accompanied by 4 toned silver prints of the automatic mail exchange system in operation (170 x 125 mm.); printed on glossy stock with typescript cations to versos. Studio name hand-stamped to versos.
"Few if any have failed to notice the crude apparatus in use at our small railway stations by which a single pouch of mail is delivered to a flying train, but it is doubtful whether many realize that this mail exchange system has been subject of more discussion among government officials, more study on the part of inventors and the source of greater loss and annoyance to all concerned than almost any other piece of mechanism in the public service." Within the context of this "catcher system," and its inefficient hand labour, Howard Koch's International Press Photo Co. here reports upon the recent invention of a "Western traveling man," through which steam-powered mail exchange could now be automated. The typescript captions affixed to the versos of the photographs read: "Truck delivering mail at stations," "Mail being taken from cranes;" "A battery of station cranes loaded with mail," and "Exchange of mail with a passing train."
END OF LOT 13   Contact for purchase inquiries.
[Young engineers with their slide rule], December 1906.

Silver print photograph (98 x 120 mm.) with slim margins, affixed to photographic mount, which has loss to right corner. To verso, inscribed in black ink: "Dec. 17th '06 / Chester B. Hamilton Jr. S.P.S '06."
It's unclear which of the seven men in this office photo would eventually become the President of Toronto's Hamilton Gear and Machine Co. But the focal point of this image is more concerned with the slide rule, which is almost certainly from Keuffel & Esser Co. 
END OF LOT 14   Contact for purchase inquiries.
[Two images of proto-computer offices].  New York,  circa 1900 / 1933.

Two production prints (190 x 240 mm., plus margins), with hand-stamps and captions to versos. Being: Clerks at Prudential with Gore sorter tabulating premiums, [New York], circa 1900, and (2) Columbia machine at statistical bureau. New York, circa 1933 (see below).
Two photos from the production archive at American heritage magazine, but earlier belonging to the Venice, CA office of Charles Eames, courtesy of archivists at IBM (as per multiple hand-stamps to verso). The latter photograph also appears in Jean Ford Brennan's 1971 work on the IBM Watson Laboratory at Columbia University, with a caption that reads: "Benjamin D. Wood, center left, and staff members of the Columbia University Statistical Bureau in the early 1930s, operating IBM machines donated by Thomas J. Watson Sr." Wood is perhaps best known as the inventor of the multiple choice test. The IBM 285 Tabulator depicted here could process 150 cards per minute.
END OF LOT 15   Contact for purchase inquiries.
Wolfe's patent roller shelving, and Wundt's patent file receptacles. 
St. Louis, circa 1888.


Single sheet, folded into a [4] page catalogue (36 cm. tall). Well-illustrated, with ten images of the combined Wolfe-Wundt system's components, after factory photographs.
"It was 1856, wilderness and wastelands were quickly becoming territories and states, and our judicial system was faced with the problem of how to house prisoners in those remote areas that were without proper detention facilities." This is the beginning of the company history for the firm that still exists as the Pauly Jail Building Company. Three decades later, the company was working the other side of the equation, helping court-houses to solve the problem of information storage through the combination of two separate patents: Wolfe's roller shelving and Wundt's file receptacles. After illustrating the components of the combined system—with detailed images after factory photographs—this brochure provides a full page of testimonies regarding the system's success, with the court-house administration from Fremont County, Colorado singing: "For twenty years past [the court-house] has been placing its public records in the primitive fashion of resting on end, to the severe damage of many of the early records, and the unnecessary use of much valuable space in our vaults or wooden shelving, besides inconveniences in the handling, and insecurity in case of fire." With no OCLC records discovered.
END OF LOT 16   Contact for purchase inquiries.
Exhibition booth displaying filing systems, from Toronto Commercial Manufacturing Trade Tour].  Toronto, circa 1921.

Large silver gelatin print (190 x 245 mm.), affixed to photographer's mount (300 x 345 mm.), with handsome blind stamp to lower corner of mount for Alexander Engraving Co. of Toronto. Pencil inscriptions to verso refer to the Toronto Commercial Manufacturing Trade Tour of 1921.
This exhibition booth for an unidentified Canadian company displays a series of paper-memory systems: the Shannon loose leaf system, the Shannon system, vertical filing, card indexing, the commercial report system, card ledgers, and rapid roller copiers. Also on display: barrister bookcases and an office armoire.
END OF LOT 17   Contact for purchase inquiries.
"Point-of-use" record protection: a study by Remington Rand dedicated to that foresight which has carried American business to world leadership—proof that "Preparedness is the price of business security."  [New York], 1951.
200 USD

With illustrated card-stock wrappers (28 cm. tall), showing modest creasing and edge-wear. Printed in red, black, and gray. Contents handsomely illustrated: 94, [2] pages.
Published in the same year that Remington Rand launched UNIVAC, one of the earliest commercial computers; this is another of their "handbooks for management." The rhetoric of this impeccably-designed catalogue is persuasive: Paper preserves information but can be destroyed by fire or water. And, since information is worth money, paper is worth paying something to protect. In response, the catalogue unveils a series of office equipment solutions; each of them promising to preserve your information from future loss. Includes dozens of pages of specifications. With only a single OCLC record discovered (USC).
END OF LOT 18   Contact for purchase inquiries.
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