Working at the Library means I frequently run across items that I just want to put out into the universe. Last year it was the Dry Good Reporter; this time it’s Geyer’s Stationer and Business Equipment Topics, which caught my eye while I was putting together the guide on the history of the office. Since this publication was directed at stationers — sort of the Office Depot of the day — it is a good indication of what those businesses sold directly to consumers.
Geyer’s started as Geyer’s Stationer in 1877, but went through a number of name changes, including Geyer’s Stationer and Business Equipment Topics and Geyer’s Equipment Topics. It billed itself as, “the authoritative semi-monthly of the stationery, office supply, engraving, greeting card and allied trades.” I was looking at issues from 1924, and, at that time, issues came out on the 5th and the 20th of each month and the publisher, was located in the Flatiron Building on 5th Avenue in New York City.
Geyer’s Stationer included a lot of advertisements, from many manufacturers and for a variety of products. There were advertisements for equipment like paper fasteners from Eveready, staplers from Hotchkiss, and date stamps from Bates Numbering Machine. They even sold playing cards, mahjongg sets, and decorative gift boxes. Of course, there were advertisements for things that are familiar today like pens, pencils, erasers, ink, pins, loose-leaf rings, postal scales, package sealers (think of those hand-held devices that hold tape rolls), paper, envelopes in different sizes, folders of different types, forms, fancy boxes, seasonal cards, stationary, etc. – you may recognize a few of the names like Waterman, American Lead Pencil Co., A. W. Faber, Eagle Pencil Co., Joseph Dixon Crucible Co. (Ti-con-der-oga as it was sometimes seen), and United States Envelope Co. to name just a few.
Geyer’s also included articles on a host of topics relevant to business owners. One, in the December 20, 1924 issue, was all about keeping account books current to make tax season easier. Others looked at how to best display and sell seasonal items like Valentine’s cards, Easter merchandise, and things every kid needed to go back to school. A May 5, 1924 article gave tips on the wedding stationery business, specifically on the importance of a good window display and the challenges of creating good displays in very limited space.
Other articles dealt with topics of more general interest. One that I really liked, from the November 5, 1924 issue, was about the history of the wood lead pencil. The article included a few facts and factoids – lead pencils really contained graphite and American cedar was the best choice for the wood – and ended with a note about how famed philosopher Henry David Thoureau’s family owned a pencil company in Concord, Massachusetts. Another interesting article, from the July 20, 1924 issue, reported on a greeting card industry group sending a card to President Calvin Coolidge for July 4th. Apparently, the card was quite large, 27.5 inches by 21 inches, and featured a watercolor by Gordon Ertz, showing Coolidge as a boy working on his father’s farm.
This is just a taste of the magazine; I have two more posts lined up looking at this publication about office furniture and building images, so stay tuned.
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