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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

© 2018 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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The Office, Part II: 1902

The Office, Part II: 1902

Detroit, Michigan, 1902. "Richmond & Backus Co. office." The other end of the room seen here, with a different cast of characters, and a cleaner desk. 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

The Plate Glass window of time

It prevents us from truly experiencing these exquisite snippets of the past. As a retired professional restorer, I've had the dubious pleasure of experiencing these sites, pre-renovation, and I can tell you that things smelled quite different than today. Modern fabrics, plastics and metal fade in a few weeks, but wood, leather, wool and horse-hair retain a distinctive smell for many decades, imparting an era-worthy aroma any 19th century citizen would recognize. I'm not so sure it's an improvement, olfactory-wise!

Office chair for all time

Actually, judging by the one my dad had, those chairs are amazingly comfortable. Wish I still had it, in fact.

Shocking inducements

It is interesting that there are components of the telephone that are not protected by a cover. What appears to be the telephone's induction coil can be seen very clearly, to the left, and level with the top of, the magneto box. Some of the instrument's wiring, and other components, can be seen beneath the coil, their beauty (for some of us!) exposed.

All good, substantial stuff, which, whilst there were rather fewer "applications" available for it, made for a telephone that was quite splendid, and not having a case manufactured from old pop bottles and coleslaw tubs. I would love a telephone like this.

Thanks again for so many utterly splendid and fascinating pictures, week on week.


Pros and Cons

Bigger cubicles perhaps, but I'll take my ergonomic and plush office chair over that heavy wooden behemoth any day!

Wonder what the desk visitor has in his little black book? Surely all business appointments.

It's Not Him

Odd. I looked at the guy in the bowler and flashed on an old picture of my grandfather -- and my wife popped up with "that looks like you!"

Nah. Couldn't be him.

Dilbert 1.0

The concept of office cubicles is older than I thought. At least they were bigger back then.

Modify as needed

It's a piece of furniture, not the Taj Mahal.

The original owners had no problem making changes to accommodate the newfangled technology.

Every office needs one

A combination doorstop / tripper-upper (on the floor just to the left of the desk).

That phone!

It appears that it had to mounted on or attached to the desk. Did that box with the crank usually get placed on a wall? I wonder if these phones were around when the term "crank call" was coined.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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