Of Catalogs and Time Machines.

On the surface, it appears to be a 1995 supplies catalog for design professionals. But actually it’s an exquisite, 311-page testament to times-gone-by.

The layout is beautiful—the compressed Garamond body text and the bold, sans-serif titles remind me of Apple Computer’s documentation aesthetic from the ’90s. And the attention to detail, evidenced in the product photos that were taken just for the catalog, is incredible. Rather than just use camera-ready art, photos were taken of nearly all of the products. An interesting exception is the Blackwing photo: it seems to be the one Faber-Castell used in their catalog, taken sometime during the six years following their acquisition of Eberhard Faber in 1988. Curiously, the Castell 9000 is listed as an Eberhard Faber product.

Back in 1995, it was probably difficult to imagine that most of these products would soon disappear. It makes me wonder what I might currently be taking for granted. Should I be hoarding my favorite bass strings, though I’ve been using the same brand for 17 years? Graf von Faber-Castell pads? Carl DE-100 sharpeners? Clairefontaine manuscript paper? Old Bay Seasoning?

For whatever reason, seeing the date “1995” doesn’t feel the same as saying “17 years ago”. Instead, it seems closer. Because of that it feels like I just missed the ‘golden age’ this catalog catalogs, even though in truth, it was a long time ago.

Special thanks to Lionel Spiro, owner of Charrette, for sending me this 1994-95 catalog.
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7 Responses to Of Catalogs and Time Machines.

  1. John says:

    Sean, a world without Old Bay would be a sad planet indeed. 🙂

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    • Sean says:

      Can you imagine waking up one day, going to the store, asking for some Old Bay and the guy says: “Sorry, son. Ain’t none in all of Bal’more.” 🙂

      I get the feeling though that even if you had a dried up chunk of it from say, 20 years ago, you could still scrape some off and use it. So, we’re good for like the next half-century. 🙂

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  2. John says:

    True! It turns a little…brown when the paprika goes bad, but I can’t say that makes me throw it out. 🙂

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  3. Gunther says:

    What a gem! Thank you for showing it. – I especially like the photos. Today’s illustrations are mostly renderings which are not as pleasing.
    In the first photo, the Duralar and Dynagraph pencils are shown side by side. Have they been offered for different purposes?

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  4. Even a garden-variety office-supply catalogue had a fair sample of good pencils not too long ago, though nothing approaching the range pictured here. I ordered Blackwings, Black Velvets, and Mongols from such catalogues (and never thought to save copies).

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