When I was a kid in school I volunteered many times to clean my teacher's desk.
Yes, I was that kid.
I loved organizing the assorted paper clips, staples, brass brads, and writing utensils. I also had an appreciation for all the specialized tools she had lined up across her desk. From the triple hole punch to the teeth-baring staple remover, I not-so-secretly coveted the tools of her trade.
Without really consciously trying, I've collected quite a few awesome vintage office tools of my own. They proudly sit upon my own desk; they somehow make me feel legit!
The first purchase was a classic Swingline stapler I picked up in Minnesota last summer for 79 cents. My brother, sister, and I had been out junking on a rainy day during our family reunion. Because I had traveled to Minnesota from Texas via airline, I was limited greatly to what I could purchase. I turned away many a fabulous vintage finds due to their bulky size, but the small-scale stapler could easily tuck in a nook or cranny inside my suitcase.
A couple months later I spent the morning perusing the myriad of antiques and collectibles at the Austin Citywide Garage Sale. Nothing I saw was of interest until I came upon this minty- green, retro tape dispenser. Despite its small scale, it was remarkably hefty, the weighted bottom ensuring its secure stance as tape gets pulled and torn off.
As most junkers know, once you've got more than two-of-any-kind, there's a collection!
And so my pair of vintage office tools officially become a collection after I picked up this awesome vintage pencil sharpener at the Austin Settlement Home's Citywide Garage Sale in October for a mere $2.
I was searching through bins of assorted office supplies hoping to find a vintage brass stamp dispenser when I saw this box. I simply cannot resist an obviously vintage box! I was delighted to see that what was supposed to be in the box was actually inside. I wasn't sure at the time if it worked, or how it worked for that matter, but figured for a couple of bucks it was worth finding out.
As luck would have it a guy standing next to me was, of all things...an engineer. He saw me pull the machine out of the box and putz around with it and said, "Oh, I know what that is. It's a pencil sharpener for drafters," then he showed me how it worked. Well there you have it! It is a Tru Point pencil pointer as it "...produces long, slender, true needle points for fine line work as required by Draftsmen, Artists, Engineers, Accountants, etc." I'm pretty sure by "etc." they mean finicky, slightly obsessive people like me who NEED their pencils to be sharp!
Now what was really awesome was that in a tray right above the pencil pointer sharpener I found not one, but two, vintage brass stamp dispensers, each marked down to just 25 cents.
And as an added bonus - this fabulous changeable number rubber stamp! Admittedly I have an obsession with numbers. I figured I could find a use for such a cool stamp. As an elementary teacher I know just how much kids love to read large numbers. I imagined allowing students to randomly set the numbers, ink the rubber stamp, and stamp it onto their paper. They could then insert commas and write out the number in word form and standard notation. Not only would kids enjoy the activity, but it would also be good practice as the rubber stamp goes up to the billions!
Now the final piece in my vintage office tools collection is this Standard spinning rubber stamp holder. It was only logical that I would search high and low for one of these what with the number stamp and all. I stalked ebay until I found a small rack that was affordable. I lucked out with this one.
Our school library circulation system is completely automated, and everything is computerized. I have no need for rubber stamps, but I choose to use the old date stamped date-due card placed in the library pocket in the back of the book. It somehow makes the whole book check out experience just a bit more personal and nostalgic.
My students are actually quite fascinated by my "old school" approach. Many reach over the counter, give the rubber stamp rack a little spin and ask to stamp their own date due slips.
Every once in awhile I'll even get an offer to organize my desk!
All photographs taken by Paulette Rodriguez.