Antique 1880’s Pressboard File Drawers

Sunshine and Spring wishes to you all!

Yesterday I made time to visit a crafting recycle store and was treated to an amazing surprise.  14 Antique document file drawers made of pressboard.

Pressboard is a sturdy rigid paperboard stock with a smooth, distinctive finish which has a marbleized look – you’ve probably seen it before as lawyer’s file folders, old accordion files and the like.


These were made by the Hasbrouck Co and this stamp on each drawer shows them to date back to possibly as far as 1877 but certainly to 1881.

Each file drawer is 10″ x 4″ x 2½” and they have metal reinforcements at the front and back of each case and drawer which is probably why they lasted so well.

These drawers were made to hold documents, in this case, location notices, water rights, placer mine claims, mill filings, deeds and even marriage certificates.  Depending on the size of the town, these records/files would have been kept in the clerk/auditor’s home, a store combination post office or with a larger population – a government building.

There could have been rows upon rows of these file drawers stacked up in order to hold the important proof of ownership and rights of the people within and near to a growing town in the 1800’s.


Most of these files have a date on the drawer front along with an alphabet letter to further define the filing system.  Each drawer also has a handwritten label.  These labels are in script by a dip pen and sepia ink.  So cool!


There’s 14 file drawers here.  I decided to break up the set into three separate collections as some may not want or need that many of these old file drawers.  The first set above, is all the drawers for 1881.


Now remember, each drawer is separate from the next so you could stack them four on top of each other, or in a block shape, or lay them out four in a row.


The next set has 6 drawers covering four different years: 1883, 1886, 1887 and 1888.  But check it out – did you notice those wonderful old ring drawer pulls?  They’re made of metal and each one is ornately embossed.  Even everyday items had a bit of the “fancy” back in those days.


The last group has four drawers in the set and the labels are all handwritten in script.  There’s so much patina and character with these drawers – it was truly a lucky find in a very unlikely place.  When I asked if they knew any of the background on these beauties, I was told that the woman who brought them in had been keeping her embroidery floss in them.  For how many years?  On my gosh.

UPDATE:  The four drawers pictured directly above had a surprise waiting for me.  As I was going over the details of these 4 drawers while making the listing for them in my Etsy shop, I realized those front labels were covering something behind them.

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Holy Cow!  These are the original labels and look at those top two – such beautiful script and I almost missed it!  The old labels were not glued down, just slid into the metal braces so they came right out.  That just made my day.

All three sets of drawers are now currently available in my Etsy shop Old Raven.  Just click on the links below to go right to the listings.




And last but never least:


I know Bella was working hard here keeping track of the neighborhood activities, but Smokey was certainly taking a break from her labors.  In her defense, I will mention that she was out the last three nights prowling by the light of the ‘Super Moon’ bringing back the spoils as gifts for mom and dad (including one live mouse that had to be chased down and released back to the wilds, thanks Smoke).

I love my life – thanks for sharing it with me. – Kriss


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