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One of the most extensive collections of American architectural and building trade catalogs anywhere is housed in New York City at Columbia University's Avery Library. Now researchers can have convenient access to 1,684 Avery titles selected by bibliographer Herbert Mitchell. These catalogs are invaluable documentary sources for the history of the manufacture and use of specific architectural products. They contain high-quality representations of objects rarely illustrated elsewhere, making them extremely useful to those doing artifact research. For students of marketing trends and economics, the trade catalogs are an excellent record of product development, trademark images, marketing strategies, local and national business trends, and the distribution and consumption of goods. They also provide information on the development of many familiar companies, including Otis Elevator, Montgomery Ward, Sherwin-Williams, Westinghouse, General Electric, and Sears Roebuck. Using the collection, restoration architects can identify the original manufacturer and exact appearance of hundreds of architectural objects.
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