1920 Metal Apothecary Filing Cabinet

1920 Metal Apothecary Filing Cabinet


65H” x 36W” x 18D”
Metal multi-drawer office/file cabinet from the 1920s. Natural hand polished steel cabinet made by the Office Specialty Manufacturing Company, Toronto and Newmarket, Ontario.

In 1896 (or 1895, or 1888, depending on the source), Office Specialty opened a factory in Newmarket, Ontario. Located along the Holland River, the firm quickly became Newmarket's largest employer, and eventually the largest manufacturer of filing systems and office furniture in the British Empire.  Their 1903 catalogue featured 39 different filing cabinets (with one model containing 60 drawers!) and the “Rapid Roller Copier,” an early version of today’s photocopiers. 

The Toronto head office fell victim to the 1903 fire in that city that destroyed 139 businesses, but a new office building was constructed.  Their product line expanded to include snow shovels, an essential item for store owners back then and good source of profit, as each shovel grossed over half a cent.  In 1920, the Newmarket location became the head office for the corporation, while regional offices were continued in Halifax, Quebec City, Ottawa, Hamilton, Winnipeg, Calgary, Regina, Edmonton and Vancouver.  Like most office furniture companies, they made the transition from wood to steel (for fire safety reasons), although the steel products were initially shaped and finished to look like wood.  Here's how one 1949 article described operations in the factory:
The 1950's were not kind to the company, which declined through the decade and was finally sold in 1961. A huge fire in 1971 destroyed much of the Newmarket factory.

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