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    

Antique Circa1890 American Merritt Typewriter Serial No 3233 No ReserveExcellent Vintage 1930's Royal Touch Control Model O Portable TypewriterVintage Shipyard Office Boardroom Builders Model Drilling Dredger Ship ModelAntique Early Stanley Fullers Slide Rule Calculator 873Vtg Hammond Multiplex Typewriter Vintage ~ C1916 ~ "hammond Ideal Multiplex" ~ Typewriter With Metal CaseEarly Antique Candlestick Telephone With Wood Base, Signed "samson" TransmitterRare Vintage ~ C1890 ~ "merritt" Linear Index Typewriter With Original CaseVintage 1950's Rare Early All Black Curta Type Ii Calculator Low #507972 L@@k1930 Vintage Antique Corona Portable Typewriter & Folding Camera See VideoVintage Curta Mechanical CalculatorAntique 1910 Standard Folding Typewriter In Hard CaseVintage Royal Quiet Deluxe Typewriter In Case Blue/greenCorona Special 3 Folding Portable Typewriter 1932 - Rare Math SymbolsWestern Electric Non-dial 20al Candlestick TelephoneOliver No. #11 Typewriter Very NiceVery Rare German Cylindrical Slide Rule Nestler 44a 3.75mAntique Candlestick Telephone Lamp Brass Bakelite Vinatge WorksBaldwin Brass Bouillotte Trumpet Office Table Desk Lamp W/royal Knight ShadeVintage Custom Pink Royal Quiet De Luxe Typewriter W/ CaseAntique Fowler Magnum Long Scale Calculator Case & Instructions Fowler's VintageClean Vintage Underwood 4 Bank Glass Key Portable Typewriter With Case, WorkingWestern Electric Dial Candlestick Telephone And Ringer Box Super Nice1927 Vintage Antique Old Mignon Typewritter Typewriter See Video BelowAntique 1923 Underwood Standard Typewriter No. 5 Great Vintage Decorator LookRare Usss Secret Service New York Field Office Yankees Challenge CoinProfessional German Slide Rule Faber Castell 2/83n Rare !!!!Vintage Antique Western Electric Dial Candlestick Telephone W Ringer Box H 4 NrRemington Deluxe Remette Portable Low-profile Typewriter With CaseRare Usss Secret Service New York Field Office Statue Of Liberty Challenge CoinEarly Teens Corona Portable Folding Typewriter W/ Manual, CaseAntique Remington Rem Cadet Manual Typewriter Colored Glass Keys PortableNice Western Electric Dial Candlestick Telephone, Restored & Working PhoneAmerican Tel & Tel Co. Candlestick Telephone Vtg Early Antique Old Phone 1919Otis King Model K Slide Rule Calculator In Box With Reciept A1073 VgcMobil Oil/gas Porcelain Wall Service Thermometer Garage Shop Gauges Office SignHalden Calculex Circular Slide Rule In Aluminum CaseCandlestick Telephone.Vintage Olivetti Valentine Red Portable Typewriter 1969 Ettore SottsassAntique Otis Kings Patent Calculator Boxed No 183723Beautiful Red Olivetti Valentine Typewriter, Intact Case, Qwerty, C.1969 Vintage 1920's Royal10 Typewriter Glass Keys Beveled Glass Side Panels Works VgcOlivetti Valentine Typewriter Space Age 1969 Ettore Sottsass Italy Spec Keyboard Olivetti Underwood Lettera 33 Petite TypewriterVintage 1930's Royal Touch Control Portable Typewriter & Case Excellent!Smith Corona Scm Classic 12 Vintage Aqua Blue Portable Manual Typewriter Empire TypewriterLongaberger Baskets Lot Of 3 Father's Day, Cracker Combos Great For Desk OfficeRemington 5 Typewriter Vintage Consul Portable Typewriter W Carry Case + Key Czechoslovakia Works!Vintage Remington Portable No. 3 Typewriter And Case 2 Tone Green Needs CleaningVintage Faber Castell Addiator 67/54rb Slide Rule With Stick And Case Polished Tzk 10x80 Antique Cold War Military Binoculars Yacht And Office Decor.Typewriter Underwood No. 5 Serial Number 688731 From 1914 Pickett All Metal Slide Rule 535 Es 16 Scales Leather Case + AccessoriesAntique Yost No 4 Under Strike Typewriter For Parts Or RepairVintage 1960s Royal Manual Desktop Fpe Typewriter - All Original Prop Writer Vintage K&e Keuffel + Esser 4081-3 Log Log Duplex Decitrig Slide Rule,case, BookThe Typewriter Specialists Typewriter Ribbon Tin Scarce Excellent ConditionUnderwood 5 Mill Typewriter All Caps - Rubber Knobs In Good Working Condition