Today, when most of us head into the office, our quiet digital tools are ready and waiting, maintained by technology professionals and other unseen hands. But office work used to be much more of a do-it-yourself, hands-on affair. A sophisticated turn-of-the-century office, for example, might have boasted candlestick telephones, fountain pens with ink bottles, and a very rudimentary calculating machine, all ready and more than willing to malfunction at exactly the wrong time.

When copies of an important document needed to be produced, you didn't just knock out a PowerPoint and click send. Materials would have to be carefully gathered for the printer, who would laboriously set your peerless prose in type and then print your document by hand. Days might pass before your plan to re-organize the Midwest sales division would see the light of day.

One could send important communications by telegraph, either using Morse code or by sitting down at a printing telegraph machine. Early typewriters appeared in 1874, when E. Remington & Sons offered their customers a Sholes & Glidden “Type Writer” for $125. But the machines didn't really catch on broadly until the popular Underwood models of the 20th century.

Distributing what had been typed was not as automatic as the appearance of the FedEx truck at 4pm. Letters would have to be weighed before proper postage could be affixed, and then someone would have to trudge off to the nearest post office to make sure missives were mailed in time.

Much later in the 20th century, higher-tech office equipment came along, like slide rules, mechanical pencils, carbon paper, electronic calculators, and ultimately personal computers. Was this progress? We're not really sure!


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Pocket Protectors

Pocket Protectors

Dr. John Pojman's incredible gallery of over 500 pocket protectors, from every imaginable organization, company, an… [read review or visit site]

Early Office Museum

Early Office Museum

This site showcases pre-1920 office antiques, including paperweights, writing ink, paper fasteners, seal pressers, … [read review or visit site]



Most watched eBay auctions    

Vintage 1920's Bell System Telephone Office 2 Side 40" Porcelain Metal Sign~niceVery Rare Molle Typewriter, Circa 1914Beautiful Vintage 1915 Montgomery Ward Candlestick Telephone And Oak Ringer BoxFabulous Vtg Burgundy Colour Kolibri Groma Typewriter 1950s..works Perfect1910 Loeffler 9-button Candlestick Telephone W/ringer * Scarce Phone & IntercomVintage Royal Manual Typewriter With CasePink Royal Typewriter & Case Collectible WorksCurta Calculator Type I Serial #46063 Very Good Condition Metal CaseStromberg-carlson Oil Can With Ball Candlestick Telephone*rare* Original Antique Faber Castell 2/84 "mathema" Slide Rule!!Oliver #3 Typewriter In Very Nice Condition Monarch Candlestick Telephone Unusual Antique Pushbutton Candlestick Telephone See Photos Parts 1930s Remington 5 Typewriter 'classic'Curta Mechanical Calculator Type Ii Sn503487Antique Bell 20al 323 Western Elec Candlestick Telephone W/ Courtesy Coin BoxRoyal Quiet Deluxe Portable Typewriter Circa 1941 Working Well * Nice!Vintage 1920 Portex No. 5 Typewriter Mechanical Writing Machine #5 W/case 19214Vintage 1930,s Old Advertising Tin Oliver Typewriter Ribbon Curta Mechanical Calculator Type 1 Sn#9833Lot Of Antique Candlestick Telephone Phone Receiver Transmitter PartsVintage Corona Rare Emerald Green 1930's Manual Portable Typewriter American Electric Candlestick TelephoneAntique 1926 Corona Four Typewriter And CaseAntique Connecticut Telephone & Electric Candlestick Telephone ***no Reserve*** Antique Western Electric 20al Candlestick Telephone Phone Pat. Applied ForGroma Ss Wehrmacht Modell N Manual Portable Typewriter Burgundy Maroon WwiiEstate Fresh Vintage Candlestick TelephoneBeautiful Western Electric Dial Candlestick Telephone, Restored & Working PhoneOriginal 1874 Patent Model Of Mechanical Washing Machine With Patent Office TagVintage Olympia Sf Portable Manual Typewriter Black +case & Manual West GermanyVintage Underwood Standard Four Bank Keyboard Portable Typewriter & CaseVintage Mid-century Rooy Roxy Portable Typewriter Paris FranceVintage 1920's Underwood Standard Portable 3-bank Typewriter -- WorkingLarge Loftus Proof Slide Rule Over 24" LongStupendous Western Electric Type 51-al Candlestick TelephoneWilliams Number 4 ? Typewriter Restoration Or Parts Sporty`s Complete Learn To Fly Course Dvd, Air Facts Dvds, E6b Calculator, OtherVintage Royal Arrow Typewriter Great Condition Fully FunctionalVintage Smith Corona Portable Silent Floating Shift Model Typewriter W Instruct Superb Vintage K&e Deci-lon 68-1130 Universal Slide Rule!! Vintage Remington Rand Streamliner Typewriter 1941 W/ Case & Key Clean WorksVintage Pink Royal Typewriter Quiet Deluxe Rare PinkVintage Otis King Cylindrical Slide Rule Calculator Model K Box - U327749 Vintage Antique Round Smith ~ Corona Typewriter KeysAntique Underwood Typewriter Model 6, Vintage Art Deco Keys, Clean, Excellent Vintage Sinclair Oxford Calculator Boxed Thames Hospice 107 RVintage Olivetti Underwood Lettera 32 Manual Typewriter With Case Italy RareVintage Pickett & Eckel Slide Rule, Model N600 Es Speed Rule With Leather CaseVintage Olympia Manual Typewriter In CaseVintage Wellington Portable Typewriter & Nice Case, Serial No. 14063Original Samson Candlestick Telephone With Unusual Receiver1950's Smith Corona Sterling Portable Manual Typewriter W/ CaseAtf Arizona Phoenix Field Office Atf Arizona Phoenix Field Office Operation BlacPickett All Metal Slide Rule Nos Iop Log Log Model N3-esThe Office Michael Scott Bobble Head New In BoxRoyal Typewriter-vintage With Leather CaseVintage 1920's L C Smith & Corona Portable Manuel Typewriter W/case The Office "phyllis" Universal Limited Edition Bobblehead Rare New In BoxAntique Royal Portable Model P Typewriter With Case Ser. No. P14902