Beginning around 1980, I started to actively buy early plumbing trade catalogs. I bought from antiquarian book sellers, as well as individuals. I sometimes bought groups of catalogs, but mostly built up my collection one volume at a time. The focus was never to buy the oldest catalogs made, but rather to buy books published during the era that encompasses my primary interest; roughly 1893 to 1910. I enjoy looking at catalogs that depict the era of highly ornamental fixtures, that are still useable today. Generally, the fixtures made before 1890 are not practically useful on a daily basis today. They are certainly enjoyable to marvel at, and often unbelieveably ornamental, but they are more suited to a museum setting. On the other hand, fixtures from the 1890s and into the 1900s are still functional today, albeit far more high maintenance than modern fixtures. Those are the fixtures that I have always tried to buy and those are the fixtures that I wanted to see in the catalogs. So, I really covet the books from the great makers of the turn of the century, such as Mott, Douglas, Crane, Standard, Wolff, Kohler and many of the less well known companies, most of whom succumbed or were absorbed by other companies during the Great Depression.
The old manufaturer's trade catalogs were the means by which the 19th century upper- class American public decided how to outfit the bathrooms of their homes and mansions. Plumbing manufacturers would issue profusely and in some cases beautifully illustrated catalogs of their current lines of goods to plumbing companies. The plumbing companies' sales people would show them to their clientele. These catalogs would show much of the current lines of products as well as bathroom concepts depicting popular designs. It would not be uncommon for a client to specify a bathroom outfitted exactly as it was depicted in "Design 1" for instance in a certain catalog. In some cases, many of the design illustrations as well as some of the key water closet and bathtub illustrations are full color lithographs and are true works of art.
On the other hand, many of the catalogs contain a foreword that describes how the company was prepared and willing to create most any fixture exactly as the client wanted it, even if it was not what they normally would make. Most any type of exotic wood available anywhere in the world could be used in the cabinets and water closet tanks, if the client so specified. The top companies like Mott, Meyer-Sniffen and Douglas routinely offered exotic woods such as birdseye maple, honduran mahogany and burled black walnut in their cabinetry. Straight grain golden oak and even quarter-sawn golden oak was entry level hardwood for the better companies.
The major companies would also create custom-made bathtubs and showers in any design or configuration that the client was willing to pay for. This is the reason why those of us who collect these fixtures often find certain pieces that are not depicted in the catalogs of that company. A design was specified that contained a little of one stock piece and a little of another stock piece.
In the past, these catalogs were somewhat easier to find and reasonably priced. Over the last five years or so, it seems like they have become almost impossible to find, and many are priced very high when offered by trade catalog dealers. As an example, the last copy of Mott's 1888 Catalog G that I saw offered for sale was over $3000. I will want to get serious money for these books, but I can be reasoned with. Let's hear what you are interested in.
Below I have listed most of the catalogs in my collection. I have decided that I will sell some or all of these books off to allow others to enjoy owning them. If anyone is interested in buying a catalog, please write to me let me know what you are interested in. Perhaps we can make a deal.
Updated - March 6, 2017
Trade Catalogue Collection 1980- present
1905(?) Adee, Fred Co., #34., N.Y. 1914Ahrens & Ott- Standard , "F" Louisville, KY 1914Ahrens & Ott- Standard, "F", Louisville, KY (new) 1905Bailey- Farrell Mfg,Pitts 1905(?) Barrett, James Co. "2", Boston. (pkt bk) 1926Brasscrafters, Handbook N (soft bklt) 1926Brasscrafters, Handbook N““ 1936Brasscrafters, Handbook O (soft bklt) 1939Brasscrafters, Catalog 39 (soft bklt) 1900?Central Supply Co. D, Indy, IN 1921Central Supply Co.Indy, IN 1894-5Clow, James Co. Chicago. 1908Clow, James Co. Chicago. 1929Clow, James Co. Chicago 1898Crane- Churchill Co. Chicago 1908Crane Mfg. Co, Portland, OR (case bk) bent covers 1915Crane Mfg. Co. "B", Indy, IN 1925Crane Mfg. Co. "C", near mint 1928Crane Mfg. Co. 1897Cuyler-Mohler Co., Baltimore(romaine) 1902Douglas, John Co. "H2O Closets", Cinn 1910? Douglas, John Co. Supp to Catalog D, Cinn 1915Douglas, John Co. "School Fixtures", Cinn 1925Douglas, John Co. 1904DuBois, F.N.,"B", N.Y. (pkt) 1904DuBois, F.N.,"B", N.Y. (pkt) 1904Federal Company, Chicago 1914Federal-Huber, Chicago 1899Fleck Bros, Philadelphia (rebind) 1906Good Mfg Co., NY 1906Haines, Jones, & Cadbury Mfg., "M", Phila 1913Haines, Jones, & Cadbury Mfg.,Phila, PA 1908Harris Pump & Supply Co. "T", Pitts 1893Huber, Henry N.Y. 1897Hoy & Co, AlbanyNY, pamphlet
1900 Ideal Mfg. Detroit MI, 1915Johnson, J.D. Mfg. Co. New York, NY 1904Kellogg, Mackay & Cameron, "A", Chicago, IL 1914Kohler Co. "K14", Kohler, WI 1928Kohler Co. "K28", Kohler, WI 1941Kohler Co. "K41", Kohler, WI 1948Kohler Co. "K48", Kohler, WI 1907Laib Co., "W", Louisville, KY(rebind) 1924Maddock's Sons, Thos Co. "K", Trenton, NJ 1898 McCambridge & Co. Ltd. "C", Phila, PA 1896(?)McDonald, A.Y. Mfg. Co. Dubuque, IA 1900(?) McElwaine-Richards Supplemental to Cat. M, Indianapolis, IN 1890McNab & Harlin Mfg. Co., New York 1900(?) Merkel Bros Co. “F”, Cinn OH 1903Millar, Chas & Son, "M", Utica, N.Y. 1903Monument Pottery Co. "A" Trenton, NJ 1888Mott, The J.L., Iron Works, "G", N.Y.(romaine) disbound 1888Mott, The J.L., Iron Works, "G", N.Y.(romaine) (rebind) 1896Mott, The J.L., Iron Works, "G" Supplements, N.Y. 1901Mott, J.L. Iron Works, Imperial Porcelain Lavs(sft bklt) 1902-4Mott, J.L. Iron Works, "R" Supplements 1905Mott, The J.L., Iron Works, Enamelled Fixtures(sft bklt) 1908Mott, The J.L., Iron Works, "A", N.Y. 1908Mott, The J.L., Iron Works, Sect 2 of Cat “A” 1924Mott, The J.L., Iron Works, "D", N.Y. 1907Nason Mfg Co. NY [$225] 1902National Supply Co., "10", Toledo, OH (pkt) 1910P&H Sanitary Fixtures (Kohler) 1893Peck Bros, Plumber's Edition, New Haven(romaine) 1893Peck Bros, Plumber's Edition, New Haven(romaine) 1905Pierce, Butler&Pierce Co., Syracuse, NY (papr bound) 1913Pierce, Butler&Pierce Co., #7, Syracuse, NY 1910Pottery, History of Sanitary Earthenware 1904Robertson, James, "E", Montreal, Quebec 1906Rumsey, L.M., No.2., St. Louis, MO 1892(?)Rumsey- Sikemeier, "25", St Louis, MO 1901Rundle-Spence Mfg Co., MilwWI 1909Sanitary, US, Pitts (pkt) 1893Simmons, John Co., New York 1897Sloan, Samuel &Co., Rochester, NY (rebind) 1894 Smith & Anthony Sanitas Plumbing appliances, Boston (paper) 1894Smith & Winchester, Boston 1927Speakman Pipe & Supply "K", Wilmington 1886Stambach & Love Mfg., Philadelphia 1893Standard Mfg. Co., Pitts, PA (romaine) 1898Standard Mfg. Co., "S", Pitts, PA (romaine) 1902Standard Enameled Baths, Pitts, PA (soft bklt) 1904Standard Mfg. Co., "P", Pitts, PA rebind 1909Standard Mfg. Co., Brass Goods (mint) 1911Standard Mfg. Co., "P", Pitts, PA 1911Standard Mfg. Co., "P", Pitts, PA 1911Standard Mfg. Co., "P", Pitts (recover) 1914Standard Mfg. Co., “F” Pitts 1915Standard Mfg. Co., "PF", Pitts 1920Standard Mfg. Co. 1920Standard Mfg. Co. 1901Standard Modern Bathrooms (soft bklt) 1908Standard Modern Bathrooms (soft bklt) 1916 Standard (soft bklt) 1935?Standard (soft bklt) 1937-9Standard Sanitary & Am Radiator 1912Sternau Mfg. Co. #25 1908Trenton Pottery Co., "K" 1917Trenton Pottery- Baths of Character, (soft bklt) 1911United States Sanitary Mfg. Co. Pitts, PA 1907Walls, Owen & Stambach, "W", Phila, PA(as new) 1924Walworth Mfg. Co., Boston 1888Ward, W. Co. Boston (soft) 1900Webb, F.W. "B" Boston (rebind) 1911Webb, F.W. "D" Boston (mint) 1897Wolff, L. Mfg. Co., "E" Chicago (H2O damage) 1904Wolff, L. Mfg. Co., "F" Chicago
1906Wolff's Baths, Chicago (softbound) 1908Wolff, L. Mfg Co., "H" Chicago 1897Western Brass, St. Louis (pkt bklt)