Catalog Shopping, 19th-Century Style

August 14 2013, 11:35am

Carlton Hobbs LLC This collection of watercolor drawings is a rare survival of a complete inventory record of a German manufacturer of tools and other metal wares. There are over 1,400 Stock Keeping Units, which include all manner of woodcraft and farming tools, surgical equipment, weighing and measuring devices, traps, pocket knives, a large range of complex locks and cutlery, even coffee grinders, ice skates and waffle irons! This vast portfolio was produced circa 1800 by the Exporthaus Peter Frohn, a company based in Remscheid, Germany. It is an “early testimony to the flourishing iron-goods industry in the Bergisches Land around 1800.” We are told that the collection of watercolor drawings came directly from the heiress of the  family. The company is still in existence today as Robert Frohn Sohn KG; this advertisement, circa 1942, shows a similar array of tools available from the company, and includes the “hammer and tongs” trademark, first introduced by Jan Frohn when the company was created in 1689 and still used today. Robert Frohn advertisement, circa 1942.   Here are some sample pages from the volume: