Category Archives: Machine Age

Flush With Green: Large Ajusco Lamp, ca. 1940s

If you’re a dedicated follower of this blog you’ll be aware of the infinite love affair I’m having with old workshop lamps. My apologies if it’s sounding like a broken record, but hopefully the merit of these heavy duty artifacts is self evident.

Here we have a rare find indeed: a complete and original Ajusco lamp in matte green. This alone is not enough to make it rare but what is of particular importance is the scale of this Goliath of the lighting realm. Measuring a whopping 64″ in overall length, this is the largest Ajusco task light I’ve come across. Its versatility and reach is almost unending.

Shedding Light: Ajusco Factory Lamp, ca. 1940s

The state of the decor solutions you choose is subjective. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know that for my money, I prefer pieces that proudly display their wounds; aged, blemished wood, broken-in leather – and in this case – tarnished, stained steel with a marbled patination of chipped mustard, gray, rust, silver, black and green paint.

While cosmetically, this lamp, manufactured by Ajusco, shows its history, structurally and electrically it performs perfectly. The jointed knuckles move easily, the paddle switch works and the original steel shade is dent-free and cradles the light socket like a helmet.

Mama Said Clock You Out: Factory Punch Clock, ca. 1940s

Nobody likes to be made to feel like a number, especially in the workplace.

The Industrial Age ushered in a new era of mass produced items and consequently, shift workers arrived at factories all over the country in the hundreds, ready to learn a skill.

Simplex Time Recorder Co. of Gardner, MA. was founded in the late 19th Century and made it its mission to manufacture instruments that could accurately keep track of and calculate an employee’s work day.

This example, while showing some age, still keeps great time and clicks over in 2.5 minute increments. The clock face and outer casing show some light rust spots that helps give this piece some warmth. The stainless steel punch tab functions perfectly and will print the day and time on an ordinary piece of card when inserted into the slot.

Line Up, Single File: Tri-Level Office In-tray ca. 1930s


Three cheers for a paperless office and all, but extra points awarded for making your desk sing with a bit of character too. Even if you have no-one to hold all your calls, your memos arrive via email and you pay your bills online, it doesn’t mean you can’t bung a few magazines, thank you notes and holiday snaps into this tall (14″!), handsome in-tray. Dorset Finds isn’t preachy but isn’t it time you be the boss of you?

I love this piece’s versatility; Perfect for the office, on a coffee table or a bureau. The stained, wooden-framed trays are labeled with original gold leaf lettering and the aged brass hardware is in great shape.

Now, get back to work.

Future’s So Bright: Bausch & Lomb Desk Lamp, ca. 1950s

The Rochester, NY-based Bausch & Lomb has been around since the mid-nineteenth century and are best known for their optical lenses. The company is perhaps most widely known for its Ray-Ban lenses but they’ve also been heavily involved in manufacturing lenses for microscopes, cameras, projectors and even periscopes!

With this pedigree in hand, who better than Bausch & Lomb to make an articulating lamp that casts a subtle yet effective amount of light without causing the eye to squint.

Back Draft: Toledo Draftsman Stool, ca. 1930s

We all work hard and play hard. Getting to sit on something you like is important; as is having a chair that conforms to your body ergonomically.

The Toledo Furniture Manufacturing Co. of Toledo, OH were early adopters when it came to creating a chair one could comfortably use throughout the day. Both the molded wood seat and back adjust to allow for greater versatility and support. The heavy duty steel is virtually indestructible and only gets better with age.

Being a contented little minion may not get you any closer to getting that pay raise you deserve (naturally) but at least you wont whine about your poor old creaky bones!

Sure Shot: Daisy Targeteer BB Pistol, ca. 1930s

Harold, why don't you shoot this helpful chap in the shoulder while I work out how to reload.

In the first half of the 20th Century it was not only culturally acceptable for American youths to own a BB gun, it was wholeheartedly encouraged – if you believe the marketing – as a natural part of growing up.

Daisy (Manufacturing Co.) began in the 1890s and remains the market leader today. Many models of BB guns were developed over the decades, most notably the famous, Red Rider that was immortalized in the film, “A Christmas Story”.

Here we have a 1930s Targeteer pistol. A few variations to this model evolved over the years that included a chromed look to the metal and adjustable sight however this is an early nickel version (with an awesome patina!) with fixed sight. Due to the infamously low velocity the Targeteer could shoot its steel pellets, it was marketed as an indoor BB gun that could be “safely” used by the whole family. It was a humorously flawed concept but intriguing nonetheless.

This example works perfectly and is clearly marked, “Patents Pending” suggesting that it was manufactured prior to the adoption of the model name, Targeteer.

Rolling People: Steel Stool on Casters, ca. 1930s

Once used in a garage or factory, this cool little number adopts a new role (or roll as the case may be) as a side table; the perfect place for an alarm clock, magazines or whatever you need close by. The free-spinning rubberized casters make for easy movement and versatility. Though examples exist with a steel top, this version has a nicely worn wooden seat. Coffee anyone?

Be My Light, Be My Guide: Explosion-Proof Nautical Light, ca. 1950s

The power generated from the firing of 16 inch guns is nothing short of staggering. To put down an opposing ship the size of the Chrysler building, it needs to be, right? Ships, and more so their lighting systems, need to be strong as steel – if you’ll excuse the lame pun.

This ship light has been converted to use a household plug, is encased in thick glass, accented with brass screws and protected by a heavy-duty aluminum cage. Weighing in at over 30 lbs. and a towering 17 inches, this light means business, bitch. So don’t mess with it.

Write On: Brass Fob Watch Chain and Retractable Pencil, ca. 1930s

I shouldn't have eaten Pop-tarts for breakfast again...

Fob chains have made their way back into the fold after many years, most likely due to a strong showing of waistcoats within menswear circles.

While pairing chains with a pocket watch is an option, I like mixing it up a bit with an old key, pocket knife or – as pictured – a pencil. This one is brass and nickel and features a cool little slide mechanism which shields the lead tip when it’s not in use.

Just when you thought there was no use for those pesky IKEA pencils…

Roll With It: Machine age Scotch Tape Dispenser, ca. 1940s

One of the things I’ve tried to highlight in this blog is the intrinsic quality and design that products from previous eras possess. Certain items, though utilitarian can be beautiful and more importantly, stand up to a battering.

Case in point: The Scotch tape dispenser. Manufactured out of cast iron and weighing several pounds, these tank-like desk models stayed in their place and kept performing year after year.

The model pictured is the rarer, large version that holds either two standard rolls of tape or one large packing roll. These larger models were usually confined to packing rooms, offices and factories where they’d be put to constant use so it’s great to find one in such good shape.

All things being equal, there’s no reason why this one wont last another 70 years!

Bottle Rocket: Machine Age Wine Cooler, ca. 1950s

There’s something about aged aluminum; Pre-WWII shaving mirrors, Emeco Navy chairs and in this case, an unusual and difficult to find “Fizz Master” wine or Champagne cooler.

Dent free and in good working order, this cooler is a welcome edition to any picnic or dinner party. Just bung it in the fridge for an hour before you head out and Bob’s your aunt’s live-in-lover.

Blue Steel: Stool By Toledo Metal Furniture Company, ca. 1940s

I’m partial to a stool, especially ones like this 1940’s Toledo stool manufactured in – you guessed it – Toledo, Ohio. They’re virtually indestructible, versatile and drip with character. The patina on the bent steel of this example is superb especially after a bit of elbow grease removing the layers of dirt and rusts spots.

Though Toledo is best known for its drafting/ factory stool which currently attracts a hefty price, I reckon these smaller stools are quiet achievers, most likely due to the fact that it’s not widely known that they were manufactured by Toledo. Shhh…