The Season of Caps and Gowns

Graduation season is upon us! Some students have already graduated. Others are just about to graduate. Ever wonder if academic regalia looked any different in the past? Let’s take a look at caps, gowns, and hoods in a Cotrell & Leonard trade catalog from the early twentieth century. 

And a Book is Made…in 1892

It’s easy to take a book for granted and not think about the machines and time it took to make the book, especially in the nineteenth century. The Trade Literature Collection includes catalogs for bookbinding and printing machinery. Some of those machines are shown in this 1892 Montague & Fuller trade catalog.

The Challenge of Shelving Books

April 10-16 is National Library Week! In honor of the event, we invite you to explore some of the tools of the trade, circa 1894. Running out of space for your books? More books than space to shelve them? In the late nineteenth century, the Yost Circular Case Co. had just the thing for you. A revolving circular bookcase which allowed for the storage of more books in less space! This circa more »

Newcomb Pottery – An Educational Experiment for Women Artists

I’ve been a fan of Newcomb pottery since I first saw an example on the Antiques Roadshow more than a decade ago. Currently I have the opportunity to see Newcomb pottery every day — three pieces are featured in an art pottery and glass exhibit at the National Museum of American History, the building where I work. Simple forms, lovely colors and nature motifs make Newcomb pottery very appealing and highly collectible. But there’s more »

Unveiling the Early 20th Century Bride

This post was written by Emily Daniel and Rebecca Durgin, graduate students in the Smithsonian-Mason History of Decorative Arts Masters Program. Emily and Rebecca are also Graduate Research Assistants at the National Museum of American History Library. After the apparent last snow of the season (hopefully!), Spring is finally coming to Washington, D.C. Brides-to-be always flock to the District this time of year with the promise of cherry blossom engagement photos. In more »

A Diary and a Trade Catalog

Recently while browsing the Trade Literature Collection, I came across the Wanamaker Diary from 1910. It instantly caught my eye because I remember going to the Wanamaker’s department store in Philadelphia as a child with my grandmother. Those shopping trips, which included a ride on the trolley, always felt like an adventure.

Visions of Warmer Weather in a Trade Catalog

After recently experiencing two feet of snow and really cold temperatures, I found myself wishing for the much warmer temperatures of summer. Because there are so many subjects represented in the Trade Literature Collection, it didn’t take long before I found catalogs advertising sports equipment. And that made me think of much warmer weather to come in just a few, short months.

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