Introduction to the Collection Series: Trade Catalogs for Glass Research at The Rakow Research Library

The Rakow Library is home to an extensive collection of glass company trade catalogs. Approximately 17,000 trade catalogs in various languages, representing firms worldwide, are housed in our temperature and humidity controlled secure stacks with preservation in mind.

19th century Silber and Fleming glass trade catalog. Bib. #89888

19th century Silber and Fleming trade catalog. Bib. #89888

A trade catalog is issued by a manufacturer, distributor, wholesales, or retailer with the intention of promoting business. Trade catalogs are invaluable resources for identifying manufacturer’s styles, patterns, dates of production, and original prices. They also provide background on economical and social circumstances for the times in which they were published.

Trade catalogs are primarily used for identification purposes by an audience of collectors, researchers, curators, and members of the public wanting to identify glass objects. For ease of access, we have categorized trade catalogs into the following subject areas: bottles and druggists’ glassware, cut glass, flat glass (including stained and architectural), laboratory ware (including industrial and optical), lighting glassware and lamps, tableware, tools (glass blowing and working tools), glass art, paperweights, and glass jewelry, among others.

1923 McKee Glass Company cut glass lamp trade catalog. Bib. #28854

1923 McKee Glass Company trade catalog. Bib. #28854

19th century F. and C. Osler glass chandelier trade catalog. Bib #92821

19th century F. and C. Osler trade catalog. Bib #92821

The Rakow Library is committed to acquiring and preserving these materials and pursues expansion of the collection. Sheila Tshudy, in charge of trade catalogs, contacts firms, works with rare and second hand book dealers, and searches eBay to find new additions. The ever-growing collection is also supplemented by gifts from generous donors.

Though our trade catalogs do not circulate, they are all available for use in the Library and we do loan microform copies, if available, through Interlibrary Loan. A large part of this collection was microfilmed and we have over 1,000 microform catalogs which were filmed with permission while on loan to us from other institutions and private individuals. The earliest dated catalog is a price list from 1722, from the firm Manufacture Royale des Glaces de France (Saint-Gobain) entitled Tarif du prix de glaces de la Manufacture royale.

Digitization of select trade catalogs from the collection allows us to provide access to these unique resources via our website. The digital collection is continually growing, and currently more than 200 trade catalogs are available digitally to be viewed in their entirety. We encourage you to visit The Rakow Research Library and consult these valuable resources.


This is the third installment of the Rakow Research Library’s Introduction to the Collection Series.
<< Prints & Drawings | Article Index >>

The Rakow Research Library is open from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Monday – Friday
Telephone: 607.438.5300 | Email (general inquiries): rakow@cmog.org

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About amy de simone
Amy is an active volunteer, traveler and photographer. She is interested in art, libraries, museums and nonprofits. She holds an M.A. in Library & Information Studies and a B.A. in Italian Language & Literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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