Help me think of some small but significant buyable business artifacts
August 9, 2014 2:11 PM   Subscribe

I work at a business school, and want to decorate my office with some cool artifacts that represent business and innovation. As a family heirloom, I already have a piece of the original Vanguard rocket (it exploded on launch). I have also bought a beautiful piece of Fordite. What other beautiful or interesting wall-mountable small artifacts could I buy that would fit with this collection? I have been thinking about icononic microchips, electronic or industrial equipment, or other related stuff, nothing too pricey. Any ideas - links to places to purchase would be great, too...
posted by blahblahblah to Media & Arts (14 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Not terribly businessy, but certainly innovative: You could get some Trinitite.
posted by brentajones at 2:50 PM on August 9, 2014

Gears and wheels made of cast iron or wood can be very beautiful and cool. Some examples from ebay.
posted by wryly at 2:50 PM on August 9, 2014

I was going to suggest gears too, or perhaps spindles from textile mills, but wryly beat me to it.

How about a tastefully-mounted ball bearing. Not innovative, but mechanical engineer acquaintances have asserted that much of modern industry would not be possible without precision-manufactured ball bearings.
posted by XMLicious at 3:05 PM on August 9, 2014

Printed/etched silicon wafers are beautiful and inexpensive.
posted by jamaro at 3:12 PM on August 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

IBM 80 column punch card.

Mechanical calculator

Copy of the OAG (Airline flight guide)
posted by SemiSalt at 3:19 PM on August 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

An early digital calculator perhaps. Vintage examples of the original TI-30 (introduced 1976) remain quite affordable, with the older HP-35 (introduced 1972) also obtainable but at a higher premium. They can both be found on fleaBay.
posted by exogenous at 3:36 PM on August 9, 2014

A bunch of places sell an skf ball bearing paperweight.
posted by JPD at 5:49 PM on August 9, 2014

I've got a friend whose grandfather was an employee at IBM and she has his original 'Think' pad - leather bound, embossed. If you could get your hands on one of those, that'd be awesome. Also, there's nothing that says that you can't decorate with your your own bits of business history; for example, I'm a bit of a technophile so I shadowboxed the processor from my first, serious, home-built PC from twenty years ago - means nothing to anyone but me, but it's interesting nonetheless. Beyond that, anything ephemera from the business world: ad campaigns, corporate art that didn't become famous, that sort of thing.
posted by eclectist at 5:53 PM on August 9, 2014

I have a vintage IBM hard drive that I removed the top cover of and turned into a shelf display piece. Modern hard drives also look pretty cool when you expose their innards.
posted by Poldo at 8:37 PM on August 9, 2014

A Tesla coil.
posted by seawallrunner at 8:50 PM on August 9, 2014

For a touch of kitsch, get a Newton's Cradle, seen on many executive desks in the '70s. Bonus points for entertainment value for visiting children.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 4:23 AM on August 10, 2014

I have an airplane propeller on my wall.

I'm also fond of vintage advertising related to my interests. We have a couple poster-sized adverts from defunct bicycle companies, and I have a friend that has plastered his home in old Pan Am and TWA billboards.
posted by backseatpilot at 7:27 AM on August 10, 2014

How about some patent drawings of some significant inventions? Like the QWERTY typewriter, or the Kindle? Print em out and hang em up!

Or you can order professional posters from these guys.
posted by Kabanos at 1:52 PM on August 11, 2014

Another idea:
Screw a Robertson screw into the wall.
Screw a Phillips screw into the wall.
Put a little frame around the Phillips screw, with a little Ford logo at the bottom.

The Robertson story of great innovation and missed licensing opportunity.
posted by Kabanos at 1:57 PM on August 11, 2014

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