Two Reprinted Catalogs

Mini Sears

A mini facsimile (ca. 1970-80) Sears and Roebuck catalog. Orig. 1902.

I’m not sure when, where, or why, but I acquired this mini Sears and Roebuck catalog when I was a kid. I do remember reading it with a magnifying lens, and I kept it in a stash of prized possessions.  I think the childish thrill of wishing I could go back and time and buy a dozen of one thing or another then bring them back to sell at todays prices was part of its appeal. The lure of a wood burning porcelain clad kitchen stove for $14.95 is strong. Since this catalog had images and prices of real things, it somehow seemed to me more of a time-travel-portal to the past than story books, which were fiction. Maybe something about it being in miniature intensified the secretive nature of this little time travel machine?


Today, the appeal of older catalogues, though perhaps less for prices than for other types of information.  And I have to confess that most of the time it still doesn’t matter all that much if it is a reprint or original. For example, the 2014 annual reprint from the Mid-West Tool Collectors Association, which is free (and ONLY available with membership, just $25 per year) is Otto Bergmann’s Woodworking Tool Catalog from Berlin, 1928-29.  This is a beautiful facsimile: cleanly laid out, well printed, the cover design even incorporating small details such as three staples from the original, both on the front and back.

bergmann catalog

Facsimile Otto Bergmann’s Woodworking Tool Catalog from Berlin, 1928-29.

At first I thought it would be useful to have a german words for a number of tools familiar to bookbinders (winkel, schabhobel, ziehklingen, spitzzirkel, bogenzirkel, leimtopfe, etc…) but soon I recognized a familiar friend: a hilfskantenzwinge, as it is called in the image below, or single screw edge clamp. I bought one very similar to this last year—since it seemed incredibly useful for something—I just wasn’t sure what. Mystery solved.

Bergmann catalog

Facsimile Otto Bergmann’s Woodworking Tool Catalog from Berlin, 1928-29. Detail page 13.

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