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    

Curta Mechanical Calculator Type 1 # 35419 With Metal Case Excellent ConditionSeth Thomas Office #6 Wall Regulator Clock Circa 1885Rare Antique 1880s Hall "improved Salem" Index Typewriter In Wooden CaseRare Antique 1905 Automatic Electric Co Strowger Candlestick Telephone Rare - 1965 Curta Type Ii Mechanical Calculator #532600 Contina Ltd Mauren WcaseOld Enamel Sign Booking Office Railway Steam Engine Platform Notice AdvertFabulous African Mahogany Continental Typewriter Of 1931,..exclusive Script FontOriginal Western Union Telegraph & Cable Office Dsp Flange Sign 31"w X 15"hBeautiful Western Electric Dial Candlestick Telephone, Restored & Working PhoneExceptionally Clean 1935 Remington Noiseless Portable Typewriter In Case N71991Western Electric Vintage Candlestick Telephone 1905Antique Vintage Candlestick Telephone For Parts Repair (b)Emerald Green Corona Portable Typewriter In Case 1920-30sVintage Barr Universal Typewriter Made By Barr Morse Corp Usa Rare Maroon NiceAntique Western Electric Brass & Bakelite Candlestick Telephone 1915, NrVintage Shiny Black Flat Top Corona Manual Typewriter Serial #1c41481 W/ CaseOliver TypewriterAntique 1892 Gpo Candlestick Telephone Western Electric No. 2, 4029, W-2, 235Underwood Standard Four Bank Keyboard Portable Typewriter With Case BlueComplete Set Typewriter Repair ToolsWestern Electric Type 22 Nickle Candlestick TelephoneOliver Model 3 TypewriterVintage 1912**exceptional**oliver #9 Standard Visible Printype Typewriter. Nice!Fox Sterling 1918 Antique Typewriter No 3 Glass Keys Grand Rapids Mi Scarce Antique Candlestick Telephone For Restoration ProjectCorona #3 Mini Manual Portable Folding Typewriter In Case Antique 1900-1920'sOld Vintage Olympia S Typewriter ~ Original Estate Find Condition Lovely Old Corona #3 Folding Manuel Typewriter Made In New York 1917Vintage Royal 10 Glass Side Panels Typewriter Very Nice Condition !Antique Underwood Elliot Fisher Jr Junior Portable Typewriter 1938 BlackVintage Western Electric 302 Multi Line Office Telephone 6 Stations-linesAntique Oliver No. 3 Standard Visible Typewriter Western Electric Rotary Dial Candlestick TelephoneVintage Underwood Antique Typewriter. Excellent Working Condition, Keys.Vintage Fowlers Universal Calculator In Case - Round Slide Rule Super !!Vintage Antique Royal Duotone Green Manual Portable TypewriterVintage Pickett Model N-16es All Metal Slide Rule Never Used Original PackagingDean Electric Candlestick Telephone !Western Electric Candlestick Telephone 51alAntique Vtg Mercedes Superba Typewriter Of 1937,...78 Years Ago...and WorkingSun Hemmi No. 154 Slide Rule, Made In Occupied Japan1913 A T & T Brass Candlestick Telephone Model 323Western Electric 40al Non-dial Candlestick Telephone, Nice For Display, PhoneVintage Rare Pickett Hydraulic Slide Rule By Georgia Iron Works D. W. HaglerVintage Classic Ronald Reagan Oval Office Paperweight Ex-rare No ResVtg Royal 1950s Turquoise Blue Royal Quiet De Luxe Portable Manual TypewriterVintage 1934 Underwood Portable Typewriter W/case - F761226Vintage 1930's Portable Royal Touch Control Typewriter With Glass Keys Superb Vintage K&e Deci- Lon 5,68-1130 Pocket Slide Rule In Box With ManualsAntique Kellogg Candlestick Telephone Early 1900'sVintage Corona Four Typewriter, Original Case, Works Great, Nice, No ReserveCollection Of 19 Slide Rule Calculators From 1920's To 1960's And InstructionsVintage Olympia Deluxe Typewriter In CaseAntique Circa 1930 Remington Portable #3 Typewriter Blue/green- For RestorationPickett N 3-es Power Log Exponential Log Log Dual Base Slide Rule Mint With CaseBeautiful Royal Model O Typewriter -- Serviced With New Ink!Vintage Smith Corona Portable Typewriter "corona Junior" 1930's & Storage CaseVintage Underwood Universal Typewriter 1930'sVintage Lc Smith & Corona Model 8 10" Manual Typewriter Glass Keys Great ShapeVintage1948 Royal Quiet Deluxe Portable Typewriter With Glass Keys & Black Case