This model is a Remington Rand Library Bureau Division 10 5/8″ x 5 5/8″ x 2″ dovetailed wooden box with steel follower and toothed sliding track. The sides of the box are 1/4″ thick and was designed for 3 x 5 inch index cards. The box has a softer brown color and wider grain typical of the mid-century Remington Rand Library Bureau Division products. Because it is short enough, it can fit inside my larger card catalog filing cabinet if necessary.
Given that Remington Rand used the Library Bureau Division brand name from its acquisition in 1927 into the 1950s and the materials and design used, I’m guessing that this model is likely from the late 40s to early 50s. This was likely used as a desktop card index or possibly as a charging tray in a library. Sadly it didn’t come with any information about provenance. With the follower all the way back it’s got 8 1/2 inches for cards which means space for about 1,200 standard index cards.
There are no nail holes on the bottom indicating that it had feet, but it does have the faint appearance that it may have either had felt feet or a felt sheet glued to the bottom to prevent it scratching one’s desktop. As I expect to use it on a glass top, I probably won’t modify it. Beyond this and a few small scuffs showing very moderate use, it’s in exceptionally fine shape.
I’d picked up an 11 inch Shaw-Walker card index recently, but I couldn’t help making a knee-jerk purchase of another vintage desktop card index. I got it used on eBay for the pittance of $16, which compared to some of the modern cardboard, plastic and metal options is honestly a steal, especially since it’s got a much nicer look and permanent feel compared to some of the more “modern” zettelkasten containers. Who wants a $20 cardboard box from Amazon when you can have a solid piece of history made of hard wood and steel on your desk?
Since my father worked in manufacturing for both Ingersoll Rand (no relation) and Remington at different points in his life, its quite a nice reminder of him sitting on my desk on a daily basis. Because it bears the name Library Bureau, it also harkens back to the early days of mass manufactured library card catalog equipment beginning with Melvil Dewey in 1876.
Of course, I ought to quit picking up these 3 x 5 inch card boxes and get some more 4 x 6 inch boxes since I primarily use those on a daily basis.
Any ideas what I ought to use this box for? Perhaps it ought to be an address card index/rolodex? I’ve already made the decision to do my “memindex” in 4 x 6″ cards and the Shaw-Walker is accumulating cards with jokes and humorous observations (jokerzettel anyone?).
Of course I now have a small voice inside saying that I need a Remington typewriter on my desk to match it.
11 thoughts on “Vintage desktop Remington Rand 10 5/8 inch card index for 3 x 5″ cards”
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@chrisaldrich These vintage card index boxes look great. 4×6″ FTW though. Are the 3×5″ boxes easier to come by?
@writingslowly For boxes of this size and type 3×5″ are far easier to come by. In the 6+ months I’ve been watching various searches I have yet to see one of these for 4×6″ cards. (I’m half tempted to buy a 3×5 box, cannibalize the hardware and build a 4×6″ box. 4×6″ boxes are easier to find in wood in larger 4-6 drawer form factors or much more ubiquitous in the metal multi-drawer (2 or 3 drawers) stackable form factors from mid-century to the late 70s. For more options, see The Ultimate Guide to Zettelkasten Index Card Storage
@chrisaldrich thanks – your ‘ultimate guide’ was appropriately named! It’s interesting how much of this old-school tech has been ditched since the 1980s.
@chrisaldrich In Australia index cards are often called ‘system cards ‘, but no one says which system is meant. There’s a few candidates, e.g. bridge playing or even the Memindex system. The system is being reinvented by Facebook.
@writingslowly Thanks Richard. I’ve also just noticed that I know you by a separate handle over on Reddit. Happy to put the two identities together.