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OVERVIEW OF THE COLLECTION

Title: Alexander Binder Company Records

Collection Date(s): 1910s-1965 (bulk 1921-1955)

Extent and Forms of Material: 6 cubic feet, including material samples (6 boxes)

Creator: Clinton B. Alexander

Abstract: Collection documents the business records of the Alexander Binder Company, as well as the inventions and creations of Clinton B. Alexander. The collection includes business receipts and forms, pamphlets, drawings, trade literature, notes, patents, correspondence, and material samples.

Repository: Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. archivescenter@si.edu 202-633-3270 www.americanhistory.si.edu/archives

Collection Number: AC1100

Processing Note: Processed by Laura Fielding (intern), March, 2009; supervised by Alison Oswald, archivist.

 

 INFORMATION FOR USERS OF THE COLLECTION

Conditions Governing Access: The collection is open for research use.

 Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use: Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Reproduction permission from Archives Center: reproduction fees may apply.

Preferred Citation: Title and date of item, Alexander Binder Company Records, dates, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, box number X, folder number XX, digital file number XXXXXXXX

 

IN-DEPTH INFORMATION ABOUT THE COLLECTION

Administrative/Biographical History: Clinton B. Alexander was an inventor and entrepreneurial businessman from Washington, D.C. during the twentieth-century. He was born in 1873 in Clearfield, Pennsylvania, where he worked as a mining engineer, moving to Washington D.C. after 1900. From 1915 to 1965, he began to patent and sell various items for businesses and record keeping, such as a plumb adjuster, paper puncher, tape splice, as well as the loose leaf binder. The loose-leaf binder was his most successful invention improvement and was sold under the name Autoset Company and Autolock Company. He also sold his other inventions under the company name The Alexander Instrument Company. Both of these companies—The Autoset Company/Autolock Company and the Alexander Instrument Company—formed part of the Alexander Binder Company. The Alexander Binder Company was located at 467 C St. NW, Washington, D.C. It was a small family business for its entire existence. Both Clinton Alexander’s wife (Maria Dixon Alexander) and son (William B. Alexander) are recorded as helping with the business and the patenting process. In February of 1966, Clinton B. Alexander died, and the Alexander Binder Company ceased to exist.

 Scope and Content: The Alexander Binder collection consists of 7.5 cubic feet of records and business materials which were created between the 1910s and 1965. Most of the collection deals with the binders sold under the Autoset Company and the Autolock Company names. There is also material covering the inventions created and sold under the Alexander Instrument Company. Business and sales information and materials from competitor companies are also included. The vast majority of this collection is textual material, especially business ephemera used to improve the business or sales records between Mr. Alexander and his suppliers and customers. The biggest customer of the Alexander Binder Company was the Aluminum Company of America, now known as Alcoa. However, the Alexander Binder Company sold frequently to companies outside of the United States as well. Along with these sales and business documents, there are material samples, such as grommets, extenders, fabric samples, printing plates, and sample binders from both the Autoset Company and its competitors.

Series 1, Correspondence, 1920-1935,contains correspondence by the Alexander Binder Company about loose leaf binders as well as correspondence with suppliers that the Alexander Binder Company worked with, such as G.H Mansfield and Company, Murphy Specialty Company, and United Screw & Bolt Corporation.

Series 2, Company Forms and Printing Plates, 1921-1954, undated,contains both business letters and information sent out concerning the investment account book, one of the more heavily publicized uses for the loose-leaf binders. It also contains the printing plates and associated materials that were used by the company for all of the various products sold by the company, ranging from the Plummet Adjustor to the Crescent Accounting System.

 Series 3, Advertising and Sales Materials, 1912-1965,is divided into four subseries: Subseries 1, Advertising Materials, 1912-1941; Subseries 2, Catalogs, 1916-1921, undated; Subseries 3, Orders, Receipts, Shipments, 1913-1964; and Subseries 4, Sales Materials, 1916-1966. Materials include various marketing books and sales ephemera that Clinton B. Alexander collected to improve the sales and marketing of his products as well as orders, receipts, and shipments that the Alexander Binder Company or one of its subsets received from customers.

Subseries 1, Advertising Materials, 1912-1941, consists of documents that Clinton B. Alexander used to advertise his products. To increase sales, Alexander collected both advertising materials from his suppliers and his competitors as well as books that pertained to business marketing. Also included in this subseries are advertisements that Alexander used for his own products, such as the Crescent Accounting System.

Subseries 2, Catalogs, 1916-1921, includes catalogs from suppliers such as the Lantham Machinery Company and the Dietzgen Supply Company, as well as the Autoset Company. Clinton B. Alexander collected catalogs of various companies, particularly those of his suppliers in order to create catalogs of his own that could successfully market his products.

Subseries 3, Orders, Receipts, Shipments, 1913-1964, consists of all of the orders and sales made by the Alexander Binder Company and its subsets during the period of its existence. This includes not only sales of loose-leaf binders, but also sales of plumb adjusters and tape splices.

Subseries 4, Sales Materials, 1916-1966, contains sales materials that Clinton B. Alexander procured and to improve marketing his products. Included are various sales strategies as well.

Series 4, Drawing, Patterns, and Instructions, 1916-1959, consists of Clinton B. Alexander’s drawings, patterns, and instructions concerning his inventions. These materials focus mostly on his loose leaf binder inventions, but also deal with how to create shipping boxes and parts for the machines used to create his products.

Series 5, Patent and Trademark Materials, 1912-1941, consists of all of the patent and trademark materials that Clinton B. Alexander used while inventing. Included is a certificate of copyright for his book, The Crescent Accounting System for Investments and Income Tax (1936) as well as trade names that he considered while starting his company.

Series 6, Competitors, 1931-1939, contains samples and related material for the creation of loose leaf binders as well as correspondence with the supplying companies. The samples are mostly fasteners and screws that were used in loose leaf binders.

 Series 7, Binder Samples, 1918, 1931, 1933, 1956, undated, contains samples of binders created by the Alexander Binder Company under the Autoset Company and AutoSet Company names. It also includes binders that were created by competitor binder companies, such as the Walcott-Taylor Company and the Cesco Company.

Series 8, Articles and Publications, 1909-1947,consists of articles and publications pertaining to business development, in particular, documents such as “how to” guides, knowledge journals, and printed material from the American Society of Civil Engineers.

 System of Arrangement: The records are arranged into eight series.

Series 1, Correspondence, 1920-1935
Series 2, Company Forms and Printing Plates, 1921-1954, undated
Series 3, Advertising and Sales Materials, 1912-1965, undated
Subseries 1, Advertising Materials, 1912-1941
Subseries 2, Catalogs, 1916-1921, undated
Subseries 3, Orders, Receipts, Shipments, 1913-1964
Subseries 4, Sales Materials, 1916-1966
Series 4, Drawings, Patterns, and Instructions, 1916-1959
Series 5, Patent and Trademark Materials, 1912-1941
Series 6, Competitors, 1931-1939
Series 7, Binder Samples, 1918, 1931, 1933, 1956, undated
Series 8, Articles and Publications, 1909-1947

Acquisition Information: Collection was donated at some time before 1980 and has no acquisition information, thus rendering this archive as “found in collection.”

Custodial History: Transferred to the Archives Center from the Division of Work and Industry, 2007.

Access Points:

Subject/Names:
Alexander, Clinton B.
Alexander, William
Alexander Binder Company
Autoset Company

Subject/Topical:
Entrepreneurship
Family-owned business enterprises
InventionPlumb bob adjuster
Plummet adjuster
Small Business
Tape Splice

Geographic:
Washington (D.C.)

Form /Genre:
Binders

Brochures
Commercial Catalogs
Correspondence
Letterhead

Occupations:
Engineer
Inventor

CONTAINER LISTING

Box

Folder

 

 

 

Series 1, Correspondence, 1920-1935

1

1

Supplier Correspondence, 1920-1931

 

2

Supplier Correspondence, 1932

 

2

Supplier Correspondence, 1934

 

4

Supplier Correspondence, 1935

 

 

Series 2, Company Forms and Printing Plates, 1921-1954, undated

 

5

Papers regarding materials used in binding and developing shop manufacturing practice, 1921 February-1950 July

 

6

Crescent Investment Accounting System and ring binders, 1933 February-1955 February

 

7

Materials relating to search for manufacturer of snap fasteners, 1934 14 January-1934 July 30

 

8

Crescent Accounting System folders, 1936

 

9

Materials relating to search for paper for use as index sheets, 1951 June 27–1954 March 9

 

10

Materials relating to search for manufacturing of fasteners and binder board, 1 of 2, 1953 April–September

 

11

Materials relating to search for manufacturing of fasteners and binder board, 2 of 2, 1953 April–September

 

12

Crescent Accounting systems, 1937 August-1952 July

 

13

Account books, 1954

 

14

Capital Account Book, 1954

 

15

Investment Account Book, 1954

9 2 Plummet Adjustor printing plates, undated
  3 Tape Splice cut printing plates, undated

10

1

Crescent Accounting System (associated loose materials), undated

 

2

Crescent Accounting System printing plates, undated

11

1

AutoLock binder (associated loose materials), undated

 

2

AutoLock printing plates, undated

12

1

AutoSet Plummet Adjustor and Alexander Little Giant, undated

 

2

Investment and Accounting printing plate, undated

13

1

Crescent Accounting System (associated loose materials), undated

 

2

Crescent Accounting System printing plates, undated

 

 

Series 3, Advertising and Sales Materials, 1912-1965

 

 

Subseries 1, Advertising Materials, 1912-1941

1

16

Advertisement cards (suppliers and competitors), 1912-1924

 

17

Direct by Mail Advertising, 1915

 

 

Profit Making Up-to-date, 1933

 

 

Letters as Business Builders, 1933

 

 

Business Short Cuts, 1933

 

18

Competitors and suppliers advertisements, circa 1920s-1930s

 

19

Advertisement ideas, 1930s

 

20

Crescent Financial advertisements, 1941

 

21

Little Giant Tape Splice and Plummet Adjustor (postcards), undated

 

22

Autolock Binder Company advertisements, undated

 

23

Autolock and Thonglock Loose Leaf binders (pamphlets), undated

 

24

Business letterhead samples, 1934

 

 

Subseries 2, Catalogs, 1916-1921, undated

2

1

Machinery Catalogue, [1916?]

 

2

Power Press Catalogue, 1920

 

3

Machine Tools handbook, 1921

 

4

Autoset Catalogues, undated

 

5

Dietzgen Supply Catalogue, undated

 

 

Subseries 3, Orders, Receipts, Shipments, 1913-1964

 

6

Miscellaneous, 1913-1930

 

7

Orders, tape splice, and plummet adjusters, 1921

 

8-9

Data for purchase of drill press and topping device, 1923

 

10

Shipments—loose leaf binders and instruments, 1931 January–April

 

11

Shipments—loose leaf binders and instruments, 1931 May– December

 

12

Keys for lock binder, 1932 January 14–April 6, 1932

 

13

Shipments- loose leaf binders and instruments, 1932 January 5-1932 October 21

 

14

Shipments—loose leaf binder and instruments, 1933

 

15

Orders—loose leaf binders and instruments, 1934

 

16

Orders—loose leaf binders and instruments, 1935 February-1935 May

 

17

Orders—loose leaf binders and instruments, 1935-1936

 

18-19

Loose leaf binders, tape splicers, and plummet adjusters, 1936

3

1

Business orders for loose leaf binders, tape splice and plummet adjusters, 1937

 

2

Business orders for loose leaf binders, tape splice and plummet adjusters, 1938

 

3

Loose leaf binder, tape splice, and plummet adjuster, 1939

 

4-5

Orders, 1940

 

6-7

Loose leaf binder tape splice plummet adjuster accounts, 1941

 

8-9

Loose leaf binders and tape splices, 1942

 

10

Orders, 1943

 

11

Loose leaf binder shipments, 1944

 

12

Instruments—tape splice and plummet adjusters orders filled, 1945

 

13

Binders and loose leaf orders filled, 1945

 

14

Crescent forms-binders and instrument orders filled, 1945

 

15

Tape splicers and plummet adjusters, 1946

 

16

Orders—tape splice, plummet adjusters, 1947

 

17

Orders—tape splice, plummet adjuster forms, 1948

 

18

Tape splice and plummet adjuster sales, 1949

4

1

Final order from Aluminum Company of America, 1949

 

2

Tape splice and plummet adjuster, 1950

 

3

Tape splices shipped, 1951

 

4

Sale of tape splices and plummet adjusters, 1952

 

5

Tape splices and plummet adjusters, 1953

 

6

Tape splices plumb bob adjusters, 1958

 

7

Tape splices shipped, 1954

 

8

Tape splices shipped, 1955 January 26–1955 August 23

 

9

Tape splice and plumb bob adjusters sales, 1956 February 14–1956 December 7

 

10

Miscellaneous correspondence, 1958 January 7–1965 August 9

 

11

State Highway Commissions, Tape splice, 1950, 1952

 

12

Tape splicers, 1958

 

13

Chain splicers, 1960

 

14

Tape splicers, 1962

 

15

Plumb bob adjusters, 1964

 

16

Order book, 1915-1927

 

 

Subseries 4, Sales Materials, 1916-1966

 

17

Sales strategies, 1924, 1931-1932

 

18

Correspondence, 1933, 1965-1966

 

19

Sales letters (examples), 1923, 1925, 1932

 

20

Autoset Company Shop Order Records, 1916-1917

 

21

Supply inventory for Alexander Binder Company, undated

 

22

Sales book (example), 1914

 

 

Series 4, Drawings, Patterns, and Instructions, 1916-1959

5

1

Method, 1916, 1919

 

2

Material specifications for auto lock binder, 1918 October 4

 

3

Metal hinge method, 1917, 1918, 1920

 

4

Bound volume of product specifications, 1921 February 1

 

5

Patterns for metal, 1919, 1921, 1927

 

6

Shipping box patterns, 1927

 

7

Patterns and drawings for foot press die base, 1932

 

8

Drawings and method, 1932-1933

 

9

Drawings, 1933

 

10

Drawings and instructions, 1933-1934

 

11

Materials relating to new auto lock loose leaf binder,

1933 November-1954 November

 

12

Instructions and method, 1921, 1934, 19338, 1939

 

13

Crescent accounting system instruction and drawings, 1935, 1937, 1939

 

14

38” tape splice instructions and drawings, 1931, 1944, 1946, 1948

 

15

Materials relating to manufacture of tape splices, 1941 April–1949 October

 

16

Instructions and method, 1952

 

17

Tape splice instructions, 1956, 1957, 1959

 

18

Box patterns and samples, 1959

 

 

Series 5, Patent and Trademark Materials, 1912-1941

 

19

Patent materials for plummet adjuster and slack adjuster, 1916, 1929, 1948

 

20

Patents, 1915-1933

 

21

List of trade names, 1912

 

22A

Certificate of copyright, 1936 December 28

 

22B

Certificate of copyright registration, 1941

 

 

Series 6, Competitors, 1931-1939

 

22

Correspondence, 1931-1939

 

23

Correspondence and samples (eyelets, screws, post extenders, grommets) of the Stimpson Company, 1935

 

24

Snap fastener samples and catalogue, 1934

 

25

Dot fastener sample and correspondence, 1934

 

26

Fastener (miscellaneous), 1934

 

27

Brass nut samples, 1934

 

28

Extender screw examples, 1934

 

29

Unidentified samples, undated

 

30

Upholstery samples, 1935

 

 

Series 7, Binder Samples, 1918, 1931, 1933, 1956, undated

6

1

AutoSet special file equipment with hole punch, No. FB-4, undated

 

2

AutoSet blank binder with memo routing, undated

 

3

AutoSet special file with hole punch, undated

 

4

AutoSetAutoLock binder, undated

 

5

B and D Standard, undated

 

6

Cesco Company, undated

 

7

Walcott-Taylor Company

7

1

AutoLock binder, undated

 

2

AutoLock binder, undated

 

3

AutoLock binder, undated

 

4

AutoLock binder, undated

 

5

Binder (with extenders), undated

 

6

Binder (blank), undated

 

7

AutoLock binder, 1956 January 19

 

8

AutoLock binder, undated

 

9

AutoLock binder, undated

 

10

Autoset special file equipment binder, undated

 

11

Autoset binder No. 5211, undated

8

1

AutoLock binder, undated

 

2

AutoSet Company binder, undated

 

3

Prototype, 1931 April 2

 

4

Prototype with notes, 1918 October 4

9

1

Proposed drawings for AutoLock binder, 1933 December

 

 

Series 8, Articles and Publications, 1909-1947

 

31

Business Development Company (handbooks), 1910s

Financial Handbook

The Art of Promotion

Advertising and Selling

The Art of Financiering

 

32

Knowledge and Business and Finance, 1909 and 1910

 

33

Knowledge, 1920, 1923, 1924,

 

34

Contacts, Bell Telephone Company, undated

 

35

Brochures about eyeleting machinery of Southworth Brothers and Stimpson Company, 1925

 

36

Miscellaneous clippings and publications, 1918, 1924, 1926

 

37

The Office Economist, 1925

 

38

Notes from American Society of Civil Engineers Yearbook, 1921

 

39

American Society of Civil Engineers Yearbook, 1921

 

40

Contacts from American Society of Civil Engineers Yearbook, 1926

 

41

American Society of Civil Engineers Yearbook, 1926

 

42

Printing and advertising clippings, 1926, 1933

 

43

United States Service Journal, 1947

 

 

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Revised: October 14, 2009