Every dwelling has its own unique qualities. How do you make your space reflect your personality? The furniture, decorations, and wall hangings all combine to make it feel like home. Let’s flip through the pages of a trade catalog and discover the possibilities of furnishing a home long ago.
The trade catalog is titled Illustrated Catalogue and Price List of Hat Racks, Ladies’ Desks, Hanging Racks, Book Shelves, Fancy Stands, &c. (Undated) by Lazier Brothers of Cleveland, Ohio. This piece is undated but we believe it was published sometime in the 1800s. The catalog includes a variety of furniture. There are pieces that musicians might find useful, pieces for those who like to write, those who like to read, and much more.
As you walk through your front door, what would you want nearby? Maybe a piece of furniture that is decorative but also functional. Perhaps a place to hang your coat or hat, a place to sit, or somewhere to put down your bag. The No. 38 Hall Rack appears to provide those very things. Illustrated below left, it was rather tall, standing at seven feet in height and measuring 32 inches in width.
For those rainy days, it included an umbrella rack, complete with an iron pan and six solid brass pins, most likely to hold umbrellas upright. It also came with a built-in seat. On either side of the German Plate Glass towards the top, there were several hooks. These might have provided spots for hanging hats or coats. The Hall Rack was available in solid walnut, antique oak, or imitation mahogany finish.
As we step farther inside, we might discover a desk for writing correspondence or conducting personal business. The No. 57 Ladies’ Desk, shown below left, was made of antique oak or imitation mahogany. It included a large drawer for storing items along with a cloth cover on top and what appears to be a railing along the back of the desk. This might have been a convenient feature to prevent papers from falling off the edge.
In a musician’s home, a music stand was most likely essential. The No. 56 Music Stand, illustrated below right, was almost three feet tall, measuring 31 inches in height with a 12 x 18 top. It featured two pockets for storing sheet music or other papers. Made of antique oak or imitation mahogany with a polished finish, it was described in the catalog as “new and handsome.”
How about furniture to display treasured objects? Several stands are illustrated in this catalog. Some of the stands are uniquely shaped, like the No. 17 Clover Leaf Stand (below left). Its clover leaf-shaped top was unfinished. This provided the option of draping a decorative piece of fabric over its top. And just as the name suggests, the No. 46 Flower Stand with a round top (below middle) might have displayed a vase with freshly cut flowers.
For displaying figurines, picture frames, or other keepsakes, the No. 13 Corner Whatnot (below left) might have been chosen. This particular piece consisted of five shelves and measured five feet in height, but there was also an option for a slightly shorter one, as the No. 14 Corner Whatnot was four feet tall with four shelves.
Much more is illustrated in this catalog including bookshelves, pedestals, footrests, and clock shelves. There are even choices for towel racks, as shown below. Some, like the No. 25 Towel Rack (below, top left), included a Glass and incorporated decorative elements while the No. 48 Standing Towel Rack (below, top right) was simply a Towel Rack.
Illustrated Catalogue and Price List of Hat Racks, Ladies’ Desks, Hanging Racks, Book Shelves, Fancy Stands, &c. (Undated) by Lazier Brothers is located in the Trade Literature Collection at the National Museum of American History Library.