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Posts Tagged ‘archival office supplies’

Archival Pencil Sharpeners

May 16th, 2012
Shopping from 1949

In our household, we still use pencils for annotating books and recipes, for list making and doodling. We love having a manual pencil sharpener that accommodates the various sized pencils in our collection – from the plumpish Ticonderoga Laddie to my sleek German graphite pencils. Our favorite is the Boston Champion – a model you might remember from youe elementary school days. While X-Acto (who now owns Boston) sells a model that can be vacuum mounted to a flat surface, we recommend purchasing the classic version, with an 8 hole dial, that can be permanently screwed to a table or inside of a cabinet. Ebay seems to be the best resource for a wide variety of vintage Boston sharpeners. As always, I enjoy the background detail revealed through amateur product photography. In this set, the fern fronds are my favorite.










If you are seeking a non mechanical option, here’s a fine example

Shopping from the Movies: Pencil Sharpeners

November 7th, 2010
Outfitting the new office in The Good Fairy (Sturges 1932)


If you’re like us, you’ve given up purchasing new desk accessories. Current offerings at stores such as Staples are uninspired. We prefer to comb thrift store aisles for tape dispensers, pen holders, metal files and the occasional typewriter.

Movies are an excellent source for office supplies. We recommend shopping from films of the nineteen thirties. Desk accessories from this era were well made with an emphasis on scientific precision and good design.

Case and point is the pencil sharpening “instrument” purchased by Dr. Max Sporum in The Good Fairy (Sturgess 1932).

“Ah, there it is! You don’t know how much this means to me.”

“Have you ever wanted something all your life and then suddenly it arrives?”

“This was my great ambition.”

“So smooth. It must have ball bearings.”

“Glorious! Like a needle. Have you ever seen such a point?”
“It takes all sizes.”

“If you paid a little more attention to pencil sharpeners, you might not work in a stationery shop all your life.”

Were his sharpener to give out after a decade, here are some options for Dr. Sporum:

From the Montgomery Ward catalog (1947)

Archivally Analog

December 1st, 2009

As you’d probably guess, we’re devotees of everything analog . Clocks and watches are the most obvious examples, but I’ll confess to a serious obsession with analog stove and oven controls (I see no reason why home ovens can’t have the same interface as a commercial Blodgett). The latest and most impressive analog inspiration comes from flickr user hawkexpress. His PoIC project is an excellent exercise in self-documentation and brand loyalty, two characteristics that we endorse highly. We’re not sure precisely what goes on the cards – it’s apparently a “system to organize [hawkexpress’] life,” but we heartily complement the methods.


(part of my analog desk system)

Archival Office Supplies: Rhodia Notebooks

September 10th, 2009

Ed. Note: Friend Lynn M. and I love French-made Rhodia notebooks (in 1997, Rhodia was acquired by my other favorite stationary company, Clairefontaine). I maintain a large personal archive of used/unused Rhodia notebooks in oddball sizes. My personal favorite is Rhodia 8, a narrow, oblong pad with gridded paper. In this Archival Clothing guest post, Lynn documents her current preference for Rhodia N° 16. To follow along, or pick your own favorite, click this link to view the full Rhodia line (but strike the metallic collection from memory).

A Notebook Fit for the Archive


My daily notebook companion is a Rhodia. My current obsession is a black covered N° 16 lined pad.

Undersized at 6″ x 8 1/4″ it fits perfectly inside any of my daily errand bags.

The top stapled cover easily folds out of my way when I want unfettered notetaking.

I rely on my Rhodia for recording things I need from the store, what I should accomplish today and any observations made in transit.

The perforated tear sheets are handy when I’m the only one with a notebook, perfect when my daughter begs for a sheet of drawing paper.

I’ve been using Rhodia notebooks for more than a decade, the smaller ones for travel and disposable jots, the more substantive wire bound books to manage projects at work. I’ve even lately become a fan of the Rhodia weekly planner.

The design of Rhodia notebooks hasn’t changed since 1932 and they are made with the original quality standards. The notebooks are still manufactured in France, in the Alsace region, an area that I have actually visited. I am charmed by the idea that I have a mental image of countryside where they are produced.

Sure, there are other notebooks worth considering, but none are as distinctive as these orange and black beauties. Rhodia notebooks are one of the constants in my life, as comforting as coffee with an old friend.

Rhodia notebooks can be easily obtained online, but check first with your local stationary shop.

I’m lucky that in Boulder, McGuckins Hardware, Two Hands Paperie and Vickerey always have Rhodia notebooks in stock.


Archival addendum:

Satchel sized Rhodia 8

Archival checklist

Linden wood and lacquered Rhodia pencil

A notebook for every size bag

Shopping from Saunders Mfg Co.

February 5th, 2009

Recycled Aluminum Snapak

Editor’s Note: friend and guest blogger Tom B. is back again with an entry on archival organizational tools from Saunders, “universally recognized as the leading manufacturer of aluminum form holders and plastic and aluminum clipboards” (Saunders company website).

Despite the impressive user interface, iPhones and their ilk will never completely replace paper and pen for organization and note-taking. Hopefully, the massive popularity of the Moleskine brand indicates the stability of the medium. But let’s take a look at another option for those suffering from Moleskine overload.

Recycled Aluminum A-Holder

Saunders is a company based in Maine that produces hardware supports for paper, from pastel plastic clipboards to absolutely brilliant aluminum form holders.

Most organizers, lap-desks, and time-managers are hopelessly fussy and bring to mind business travel, black pleather, and jumbled bins at TJ Maxx. It’s almost worse when venerable companies add organizers to their accessories section.

Filson Time Manager

The endless pockets for credit and business cards, the obnoxious six-ring format, the brass rings clashing with the silver snap closure– it’s simply too much, even if the materials are high-quality. The death knell, of course, is the $200 price tag (currently on sale for $99).

The genius of Saunders products is their versatility – you can imagine throwing all kinds of scraps into the case and snapping it closed. Rather than a slot for every scrap, it’s more of a corral for clutter that seals up nicely and can be tossed into a pack or tote.

Redi-Rite

Citation Holder II

Most of Saunders’ products are made in the USA, and most of the aluminum products are made of recycled materials. The prices are embarrassingly low. The build quality is superb. There’s a very wide range of products, including the Ticket Board, designed for traffic stops, although there are marine patrol and “Homeland” versions too. [Editor’s Note: I highly recommend screening the Ticket Board demo video on Youtube.]

Ticket Board

Archival Salvage: Filson Semi-Annual Sale

January 31st, 2009

Filson Tin Waterfowl/Upland Coat
Tin Cloth Carpenter Pants
Alaskan Long John Zip-Neck

Upland Wellington Boot
Filson sent out an email today announcing a semi-annual sale. Since Filson never puts regular stock items on sale (try a web search sometime), one can assume that these “sale” items are actually going to be discontinued from the main product line (if only in oddball, big-tall sizes, or in specific colors). I’m highlighting a few sale items of note and one edition to the category Why Was It Made?

Filson Time Manager