Builder’s Trade Catalogs: 1800’s to 1950’s


The Cleveland Public Library’s Special Collections  owns over 800 Builder’s Trade Catalogs that date from the late 19th to the early 20th century covering everything from home building to furnishing a church.

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Electricians, plumbers, tinners, farmers, and roofers can see the tools and equipment once used in their trades. Renovators and rehabbers can find original plans and designs for the homes they are working on. From rubber flooring to tin ceilings, and everything in between, these catalogs cover a range of works. Decorative novelties, iron and brass work, fencing, brick work, appliances, lighting, electrical work, sculpture, monuments, and Hodgson’s Portable Homes – these catalogs cover it all. Artists and designers can take a look at old designs that were once considered modern and new. Advertisers can get a glimpse of what used to sell. Plumbers, carpenters, and other trades people can learn how to fix that old house by seeing how it was originally built.

From the 1860s thru the 1950s these catalogs cover a range of topics from a variety of manufacturers. Sherwin Williams, du Pont, Pittsburgh Paints, Benjamin Moore, and others show off their latest products from those golden years. There are catalogs of paint and wall paper samples along with the latest in refrigeration, radiators, and stoves from the 1870s on. These catalogs will provide hours of interesting and informative browsing as they give us a glimpse of how people used to live in days gone by.  

For more information, please contact Special Collections at 216-623-2818 or

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