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Lawrence B. Romaine Trade Catalog Collection
Mss 107  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access Restrictions
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms
  • Related Material

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Lawrence B. Romaine Trade Catalog Collection
    Dates: ca. 1850-1968
    Collection number: Mss 107
    Creator: Romaine, Lawrence B., 1900-
    Collection Size: ca. 525.4 linear feet (about 1171 boxes and 1 map drawer)
    Repository: University of California, Santa Barbara. Library. Dept. of Special Collections
    Santa Barbara, CA 93106
    Abstract: More than 40,000 items that Romaine collected and which are arranged along the lines of his published guide. Primarily 19th and early 20th century American trade and advertising literature, with large sections relating to subjects such as agriculture, architecture, booksellers, building materials, department stores, electrical equipment, hardware, printers' supplies, scientific and industrial instruments, and seed catalogs. Also, related records for Romaine's bookselling business, Weathercock House.
    Physical location: Subject Files (Del Sur stacks and oversize); Weathercock House Archive (Boxes 1-176, SRLF; boxes 177-184, Del Sur Oversize; and map cabinet 19/9).
    Language: English, German, French, Italian, Swedish, Danish, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish

    Access Restrictions

    PART OF COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE. Advance notice required for access.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has not been assigned to the Department of Special Collections, UCSB. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Special Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Department of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained.

    Preferred Citation

    [Item description]. Lawrence B. Romaine Trade Catalog Collection. Mss 107. Department of Special Collections, Davidson Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

    Acquisition Information

    Bulk of the collection purchased, 1966; donation, 1970, from Mrs. Lawrence B. Romaine; other small purchases, 1970s-1980s.


    Lawrence B. Romaine (1900-1967) was an antiquarian book dealer, who bought and sold rare books, manuscripts, trade catalogs, and other Americana. Romaine was recognized as the leading expert in the U.S. on trade catalogs, and was the author of A Guide to American Trade Catalogs, 1774-1900 (New York: R. R. Bowker Company, 1960), the standard reference work in this field.
    Romaine was born in Morristown, New Jersey, and graduated from Williams College in 1923. He had a brief career as a real estate agent and worked as an advertising agent for the New York World covering Wall Street. He later was an advertising agent for John B. Woodward, Inc. of New York. In 1933, Romaine and his wife Elizabeth moved to Middleboro, Massachusetts, where he established himself as an antique book dealer. His business, "Weathercock House," was located on Route 28 in North Middleboro.
    Romaine spent approximately 30 years collecting over 41,000 trade catalogs from the 19th and early 20th centuries, on every imaginable product from agricultural implements, clothes, medical and surgical instruments to weathervanes and windmills. The bulk of his collection focused on machines, tools, engines and other hardware used in agriculture and manufacturing industries.
    In addition to trade catalogs, Romaine acquired popular culture materials, including tracts, brochures, popular books on topics such as tobacco, alcohol, early plays, school texts, sermons, slavery, suffrage, politics, religion, education, and entertainment. He also collected almanacs, early American bibles, 18th century and early 19th century imprints, posters, books on printing, poetry, flowers and animals, New England, and first editions of F. Marion Crawford and Mark Twain.
    At the local level, Romaine actively organized and participated in local community events in Middleboro, from planning parades to writing editorials for the local newspaper. He also was recognized as the Middleboro local historian, and authored two books: The Weather Crows (1955) and Cambridge to Champlain 1776 (1957).
    Romaine's efforts as collector and historian have contributed significantly to the history of American technology. As he noted in A Guide to American Trade Catalogs, 1774-1900: "If a complete history of American manufacturers is ever to be compiled, American trade catalogs will unquestionably be one of the most valuable sources of material available."

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Romaine Collection contains two major series: Subject Files and The Weathercock House Archive.
    Series I: Subject Files is the largest part of the collection, with more than 41,000 trade catalogs that Romaine collected and which are arranged along the lines of Romaine's Guide. These were cataloged as a separate collection, with access via subject or name of company. Subjects are arranged alphabetically; with box numbers beginning anew for each subject/category. Many subjects have been further divided into categories, frequently arranged alphabetically. Arrangement and box numbers have been retained as found since they are embedded in the existing box-level cataloging records. As a result, similar materials or materials from a given company sometimes are found in more than one box, and in other cases apparently dissimilar materials may be located within a given box.
    It should be noted that the catalogs are those that Romaine collected, not those listed in his Guide and which are housed in nearly 200 separate institutions across the United States. Materials in the collection include bound volumes, Brochures, single sheets, samples, and other ephemera.
    • Subseries A: Alphabetical (comprising the bulk of the collection, with nearly 1000 boxes; in most cases folders within individual boxes arranged alphabetically by name of company)
      • Advertising (6 boxes)
      • Agriculture (34 boxes)
      • Alarms, Locks, and Safes (3 boxes)
      • Almanacs (4 boxes)
      • Architecture (45 boxes)
      • Artists' Materials and Supplies (5 boxes)
      • Artwork (4 boxes)
      • Automobiles (9 boxes)
      • Aviation (2 boxes)
      • Banking and Investments (10 boxes)
      • Beekeeping Supplies (1 box)
      • Bells and Bell Foundries (1 box)
      • Bicycles (5 boxes)
      • Boats (16 boxes)
      • Bookbinding (2 boxes)
      • Booksellers and Publishers (47 boxes)
      • Building Materials (30 boxes)
      • Butchers' Supplies (1 box)
      • Carriages, Wagons, and Accessories (2 boxes)
      • Celebration Paraphernalia (1 box)
      • Cemeteries (1 box)
      • China and Pottery (3 boxes)
      • Clocks and Watches (3 boxes)
      • Clothing (30 boxes)
      • Cobbler and Shoemaking Equipment (2 boxes)
      • Collection Agencies (1 box)
      • Coopers' Tools (1 box)
      • Cosmetics (3 boxes)
      • Curios, Novelties, and Souvenirs (1 box)
      • Cutlery (2 boxes)
      • Dentistry (3 boxes)
      • Department Store and Mail Order Catalogs (27 boxes)
      • Drafting Supplies (9 boxes)
      • Electrical Equipment (39 boxes)
      • Engineering (3 boxes)
      • Engines (4 boxes)
      • Entertainment (3 boxes)
      • Explosives (1 box)
      • Fairs and Exhibitions (3 box)
      • Fences (3 boxes)
      • Firearms (2 boxes)
      • Firefighting (2 boxes)
      • Food and Food Processing (10 boxes)
      • Fraternal Organizations and Military Supplies (2 boxes)
      • Furniture (20 boxes)
      • Handling Equipment (16 boxes)
      • Hardware (95 boxes)
      • Heating and Ventilation Systems (30 boxes)
      • Heavy Equipment and Machinery (3 boxes)
      • Home Decorating (8 boxes)
      • Home Remedies and Quack Cures (9 boxes)
      • Hotel and Restaurant Supplies (2 boxes)
      • Household Goods and Appliances (20 boxes)
      • Hypnotism (1 box)
      • Industrial Equipment and Factory Materials (62 boxes)
      • Insurance (8 boxes)
      • Jewelry (12 boxes)
      • Leather and Tanning Goods (1 box)
      • Library Supplies (1 box)
      • Lighting (9 boxes)
      • Lightning Protection (1 box)
      • Medicine (18 boxes)
      • Metals (Processed) and Metal Goods (12 boxes)
      • Metals (Raw and Unfinished) (7 boxes)
      • Metalworking Equipment (31 boxes)
      • Mills and Milling Supplies (2 boxes)
      • Mining (12 boxes)
      • Motorcycles (1 box)
      • Music (10 boxes)
      • Newspapers (1 box)
      • Office Supplies (17 boxes)
      • Oil (4 boxes)
      • Paint (9 boxes)
      • Patents (3 boxes)
      • Photography and Optics (6 boxes)
      • Plumbing (28 boxes)
      • Politics (1 box)
      • Post Offices (1 box)
      • Premium Catalogs (2 boxes)
      • Printers' Supplies (67 boxes)
      • Pumps (11 boxes)
      • Pyrography (1 box)
      • Radios (3 boxes)
      • Railroad Supplies (9 boxes)
      • Real Estate (1 box)
      • Religious Paraphernalia (1 box)
      • Road Surfaces (2 boxes)
      • Rope, Cordage, and Cable (2 boxes)
      • Schools and School Supplies (9 boxes)
      • Scientific and Industrial Instruments (25 boxes)
      • Seed and Nursery Catalogs (31 boxes)
      • Sewing and Needlework (5 boxes)
      • Silverware (4 boxes)
      • Smoking (1 box)
      • Societies and Associations (1 box)
      • Sporting Goods and Outdoor Accessories (10 boxes)
      • Stamp and Coin Collecting (2 boxes)
      • Statuary (1 box)
      • Surveying Supplies (3 boxes)
      • Taxidermy and Naturalists' Supplies (1 box)
      • Telephone and Telegraph (2 boxes)
      • Textiles (11 boxes)
      • Toys (3 boxes)
      • Travel (21 boxes)
      • Undertaking Supplies (2 boxes)
      • Veterinary Supplies (3 boxes)
      • Water (9 boxes)
      • Welding and Soldering (2 boxes)
      • Wholesale Catalogs (2 boxes)
      • Windmills (1 box)
      • Woodworking (28 boxes)
    • Sub-series B: Oversize Boxed (14 boxes).
    Some catalogs have been acquired more recently and have been cataloged individually. They can be searched via Pegasus (the UCSB Library online catalog), MELVYL (the University of California online catalog), or WorldCat.
    Series II: The Weathercock House Archive contains files kept by Romaine during the course of his business, as well as some material collected by him and which is more ephemeral or only marginally related to trade catalogs. The material in this section is divided into seven sub-series.
    • Subseries A: Business and Professional Files of Lawrence B. Romaine contains the following sections:
      • Correspondence (boxes 1-96). Incoming and outgoing; arranged alphabetically by surname or institution/company name, generally who were buyers. Also includes related orders and receipts.
      • Catalogs (boxes 97-104). Mainly annotated sales copies of catalogues issued by Romaine; arranged by the number of the catalog.
      • Magazines and Journals (boxes 105-110). Includes correspondence re advertising and subscriptions, typescript drafts of articles by Romaine and photos for illustrations; arranged alphabetically by title.
      • Organizations and Institutions (boxes 111-113). Mostly correspondence and drafts of articles by Romaine; arranged alphabetically.
      • Trade Catalogue Card File (boxes 114-116). Apparently compiled for Romaine's bibliography.
    • Subseries B: Correspondence contains the following subseries:
      • Business (boxes 117-119).
      • Personal (boxes 120-121). Includes family correspondence.
      • Miscellany (boxes 122-123). Mostly unsorted, business related, including customer requests not filed in Series I: Business and Professional Files - Correspondence.
    • Subseries C: Materials Collected by Romaine (boxes 124-138). Arranged alphabetically by type of material, such as account books, diaries and travel logs, maps, and sketch books. These are categories not established by Romaine in his Guide.
    • Sub-series D: Separate Collections includes unsorted papers of a number of individuals, apparently acquired by Romaine in the course of his business dealings. They are divided into the following subseries:
      • Edward, Clarence R. (box 139). Papers, ca. 1870s-1930s. Includes latter 19th century programs and printed ephemera re steamship travel and London; also correspondence and clippings re Edward's service as a general during WWI.
      • Engel, H. W. (box 140). Papers, ca. 1936-1948. Mainly correspondence to the New York firm of Peter Engel, Inc., re machinery.
      • Fourchy, Andre (box 141). Papers, ca. 1889-1898. Files of a New Orleans contractor and builder, civil and marine works. Includes proposals and contracts for buildings such as light towers. Also includes photographs.
      • Hall, Almira D. (box 141). Papers, ca. 1850-1905. Mostly correspondence and documents, including some Civil War era material.
      • Hallberg, James Henry (boxes 142-144). Papers, ca. 1901-1942. Files of a New York inventor, primarily relating to the development and marketing of electrical apparatus such as the Synchrotone, flickerless film projection equipment, and an electric railway system. Includes correspondence, drawings, and patent applications.
      • Hayward, Samuel A. (box 144). Papers, 1894-1895. Incoming correspondence.
      • Hunt, Thomas E. (boxes 145-161). Papers, ca. 1901-1936. Files of an Oakland investor/businessman; with substantial California related material, including letterhead stationery, newspapers, and files relating to issues such as California oil, and politics and elections.
      • Peck, D. Cameron (box 162). Papers, ca. 1930s-1950s. Includes boat and marine material, particularly related to the Great Lakes.
      • Trufant, Walter (boxes 163-164). Papers, ca. 1880s-1920s. Correspondence, legal documents, and patents of a Whitman, Massachusetts resident re various machinery.
      • Zerega Family (box 165). Papers, ca. 1860s-1910s. Correspondence, legal documents, and stock certificates of Louis H. Zerega, Lizzie H. Zerega, and John A. Zerega, re various mining, petroleum, and other business interests.
    • Sub-series E: Trade Catalogue Subject Files. Includes correspondence on company letterhead stationery, fliers, advertisements, and other ephemera. Some material originally was laid in the trade catalogs, which are housed and cataloged separately. Contains the following subseries:
      • Subjects in Romaine's Guide (boxes 166-167). Arranged alphabetically.
      • Additions (boxes 168-169). Contains more recently identified material in categories not established by Romaine in his Guide, similar to items in boxes 124-138.
    • Sub-series F: Photographs and Related Materials contain unsorted materials in the following sections:
      • Photo Albums (boxes 170-171)
      • Prints (box 172)
      • Picture Postcards (box 173)
      • Drawings, Engravings, and Other Illustrations (box 174)
      • Maritime Photos, Postcards, and Related (box 175)
      • Negatives (box 176)
    • Subseries G: Oversize Materials contain the following sections:
      • Boxed (boxes 177-184). Includes oversize material from earlier series: Separate Collections - Hallberg; Trade Catalogue Subject Files; Additions; and Photographs and Related Materials.
      • Map Cabinet (19/9). Contains larger oversize material from the Trade Catalogue Subject Files series, including illustrated fliers, broadsides, posters, and individual issues of trade magazines and newspapers.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Commercial catalogs.
    Technology -- United States -- Catalogs.

    Related Material

    At UCSB:
    • Trade Catalogs - Additions, ca. latter 1800s-mid-1900s. Single and small groups of catalogs acquired from multiple sources, augmenting the Romaine Trade Catalog Collection. (Mss 200).
    • Badash (Lawrence) Papers, ca. 1921-1987. Primarily auction, company, dealer, and exhibit catalogs relating to scientific instruments, publications, and the history of science, from a UCSB history faculty member. (UArch FacP 33).
    • Kingsbaker/Moeller/Bang Collection. Jazz and dance orchestra 78s and LPs, and a large number of trade catalogs relating to jazz and popular music. (PA 2000-003).
    • New York World's Fair Collection, 1939-1940. Brochures, pamphlets, and other ephemera relating to the fair and its exhibits, and to companies such as Bell Telephone Laboratories, F.A.O. Schwarz, Ford Motor Company, General Electric, H. J. Heinz Company, Lionel Corporation, Pennsylvania Railroad, and Texaco; also brochures, with house plans, for "The Town of Tomorrow." (Mss 244).
    • Williams (James C.) Trade Catalog Collection, ca. 1911-1930s. Trade catalogs from various companies and a few trade magazines, brought together by James C. Williams, Director of the California History Center & Foundation (Cupertino, California). Materials are arranged by name of company or publication. Most pertain to mining, drilling, milling, and smelting. A few are from California. (Mss 170).
    • Some catalogs in UCSB Special Collections have been acquired more recently and have been cataloged individually. They can be searched via Pegasus (the UCSB Library online catalog), MELVYL (the University of California online catalog), or WorldCat.
    At Other Institutions: Other institutions with substantial holdings of trade catalogs, advertising history, and related materials include: