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Brett M. Wilbur
Senior Member
Username: brett

Post Number: 35
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Wednesday, June 01, 2005 - 06:45 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I wish there was a Miscellaneous section to address some of these non-product, non-spec related issues, but this seems like the best place to post this.

I really am not promoting this article, because I haven't read it, but I'm on the MIT Press mailing list, and the title came up and piqued my interest. It's called:

From the Gospel of Efficiency to Modernism: A History of Sweet's Catalogue, 1906-1947
Andrew M. Shanken

From the first page:

"Sweet’s Catalogue (figure 1), that almost mythic fixture of promotion in the building industry, arose in 1906 in response to what architects called the “catalogue problem.” Besieged by thousands of catalogues of irregular size and format, the architect or builder could scarcely keep up with the proliferation of building materials in the emerging national economy, let alone organize and read the trade catalogues generated by a building industry stoked by the emerging field of advertising. Sweet’s systemized the chaotic lines of communication between architects, builders, engineers, and manufacturers, regularizing the typography and size of trade catalogues, and binding them in one large reference book with an index. By 1912, when the Architectural Record Company, the publisher that founded Sweet’s, sold the catalogue to the F. W. Dodge Company, the idea of the compilation catalogue shifted from an attempt to reign in the unruly business of advertising, to a progressive era attempt to rationalize and manage the larger industry for architects and builders. During the Great Depression and World War II, Sweet’s Catalogue File, as it came to be called, again changed, this time in response to European typography and layout, the latest ideas about the display of visual information, and systems theory. This essay explores the creation and early development of Sweet’s Catalogue from 1906 to the end of World War II as a way of revealing the ways in which architects responded to, and were shaped by, the emergence of a consumer culture."

Anyway, thought I'd share. Please reference previous post called "Ten Uses for an old set of Sweets Catalog", could be the epilogue to the article. ;o/
Helaine K. Robinson CCS
Senior Member
Username: hollyrob

Post Number: 155
Registered: 07-2003
Posted on Thursday, June 02, 2005 - 11:14 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Thanks! What's this article in?
Brett M. Wilbur
Senior Member
Username: brett

Post Number: 37
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Thursday, June 02, 2005 - 12:04 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

MIT Press DesignIssues Vol 21, Issue 2, Spring 2005

try it at:


There is a fee for the quarterly subscription, or download the article for a slightly smaller fee.

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