The Good Book

by Josh on February 26, 2007 · 5 comments

in Ideas

Brothers and sisters, I have a testimony for you today!
Testify!
I have seen the maker’s book!
Yes!
I have touched it’s pages!
Mmmmm! Mmmmm!
I have glimpsed it’s hidden wisdom!
Go on!
And what I saw was good!
Hallelujah!

I refer to that local, lesser-known “good book”, the Bilt-Well Millwork Catalog #40 of the Carr-Cullen Company of Minneapolis. Local millwork company, A&A Millwork, has a copy of this treasure trove from the city’s bungalow era which they use to reproduce historically accurate doors, mouldings and the like. I stopped by A&A on Saturday to refresh myself with their product and prices for wood combination storm/screen windows, and interior “wunder” doors matching those on the main floor of our bungalow. In describing the authenticity of their products, the clerk at A&A mentioned how an old-timer passed down “the book” to them, and she offered to show it to me.

Bilt-Well Breakfast Nook

I only got a chance to skim through the 350 pages between the embossed leather covers, but it made a big impression. More than moulding profiles and door designs, the Bilt-Well catalog showed full-color views of rooms, some including furnishings and fixtures as well. It was the best, most locally-specific restoration resource I’ve seen. Before I handed the catalog back to the clerk, I made sure I had memorized the title details so I could look for a copy to review at my leisure.

When I got home I tried looking for the catalog or any of its content online. The best online content I could find was at Antique Home, where there is a very nice partial online catalog of Bilt-Well #40, as well as some other great resources. As useful as that site is, it’s still no substitute for the real leather-bound beauty. So I’m keeping my eyes open at rare book stores for a catalog of my own. Say a prayer it works out. Amen!

Update April 3, 2007
Since I wrote this post, I have learned that Bilt-Well was a national millwork brand carried by many companies around the country. Carr-Cullen in Minneapolis was just one company to use the Bilt-Well brand, not the sole owner of that brand as I formerly believed.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Derek February 26, 2007 at 7:50 pm

That catalogue is pretty sweet. I wish they showed the nooks online though. We’re trying to figure out how our nook used to look.

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Josh February 27, 2007 at 7:12 pm

They show a few of the nooks online in the section with the kitchen cabinets. Exhibit A: the photo I copied for the post above. Restoring our breakfast nook is definitely something I’m exploring, too, Derek. Good luck!

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Rikki February 28, 2007 at 1:50 pm

Your wish has been granted. Because of the way the book is structured and the way our database works, we organized the Kitchen Nooks under Cabinetry & Built-ins > Kitchens & Nooks. Here’s the link to the Kitchens & Nooks directory page: Kitchens & Nooks.

Guess what? We also have a Universal, Sears, and Radford parts catalogs and expect to put the best parts up this year. 😉

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Alex April 23, 2007 at 5:15 pm

Thank You

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jeff laughery January 17, 2010 at 1:46 pm

I have that book. My father passed away(he was a master carpenter) and we found it along with Audels Carpenters handbooks 1-4 1950’s edition plus Biltwells catalog #30. The only problem is that my wife thought the vintage pictures were so cool that she took alot of them out to frame ( she has since changed her decorating theme so I still have all the picuters). If you guys are interested let me know. Laugheryjeff@Yahoo.com

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