My first post about Geyer’s Stationer and Business Equipment Topics was just an introduction, and I struggled with what else I wanted to focus on for the second. My original interest in Geyer’s was spurred by working on the office furniture section of our office history guide, so I settled on looking at furniture and general office content.
As to be expected, there were plenty of advertisements and announcements for furniture and equipment, but an item on page 23 of the August 20, 1924 issue caught my attention. The advertisement and write-up was for a fountain pen filling station sold by F. N. & Co. of Chicago that had “proved its popularity and its practicality at the various colleges and educational institutions.”
There were also furniture related articles. The July 20, 1924 issue included the article, “When Can I Advertise Furniture to Advantage?”, which encouraged stationers to advertise furniture. The article emphasized how all new buildings being built and all older buildings being rehabilitated would need new furniture. It went on to say that stationers could “not only sell what the new tenants know they need, but can create a demand for articles they may not realize they need but would buy if called to their attention.” (p. 9) The article also encouraged advertisers to use an image of a new building along alongside the furniture they had on offer, as the article’s authors thought that was particularly effective.
All of the modernizing in American business implied by new and rehabilitated office buildings also meant new office filing systems. There were several articles in 1924 about filing and the Visible File and the Visible Index systems. The first article I saw ran in the August 20th issue on page 9 and was titled “A Brief History of Filing.” In presenting a history of organizing records, the author included references to figures of history like Hammurabi, Nebuchadnezzar, pharaohs in Egypt, Xerxes, Alexander the Great, Romans, and the secular and religious authorities of the Middle Ages.
The next month there were two articles. The first ran in the September 5th issue and focused on James H. Rand, who started American Ledger, a company, also seen as Rand Ledger Company and Rand Company, Inc., that later became the Rand Kardex Corporation and then Remington Rand. The article talked about how Rand developed the Visible Index System and the associated Rand Sectional Visible Card Record, a system which used drawers and ledger cards that could be added to over time. The resulting Rand Visible Card Record system proved to be quite popular.
They revisited the Visible File in the September 20th issue where the article provided a bit of a case study looking at Wanamaker’s New York store. The firm had initially used the Rand ledger system in the bookkeeping department, but found it so useful that they decided to use it in other departments as well. Rand had several visible file versions, besides the drawer version, including Rotary, Desk Stand, or Wall Frame versions, which were all supposed to be good for reference lists. The closing quote of the article was a comment on the modern office, giving a nod to it being good for businesses and manufacturers to advertise:
“Manufacturers are doing their part by educational advertising, teaching the equipment-buying public that modern business requires modern equipment.” (p. 40)
Stay tuned for the third and final post!
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