Thursday, August 29, 2013

Barnes & Reineke Industrial Designers

This is a 1938 postcard advertising the Barnes & Reinecke Industrial Designers of Chicago. The picture on the front shows some of the designers. The back of the card has a list of clients, many of which are still well known today.

The following information about Barnes & Reineke is from an IDSA page about Jean Otis Reinecke (1909-1987):
Jean Reinecke was born in Bourbon County, Kansas and started his own sign painting shop at age 17. He attended Kansas State Teachers College, then moved to St. Louis and attended Washington University’s Art School. He began his career as a display artist at General Display Studios in St. Louis, designer of automated convention and World’s Fair displays, and soon became a partner and art director there. Reinecke opened an office in Chicago in 1930 to work on the Chicago Century of Progress (1933-1934) for General Display. In 1934 he established the industrial design and engineering firm of Barnes & Reinecke in partnership with James Barnes. Reinecke provided the design talent and Barnes was in charge of sales.

By 1938 Barnes & Reinecke had a staff including David Painter (1913-2003), vice-president in charge of design, James Teague, Fred Priess and George Mendenhall. Reinecke also served as a part-time instructor at the New Bauhaus in Chicago, which later evolved into Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT).

The McGraw Electric Company introduced the Toastmaster model 1B9 in 1939, designed by Reinecke and his staff at Barnes & Reinecke. It was the first to exploit the curvature of chrome-plated shells on toasters, increased sales dramatically, was widely imitated, and served as the typeform for toasters well into the 1960s. One of Reinecke's designers, Fred Priess, designed the linear decoration that became the company's symbol.

In 1939, James F. Barnes and Jean O. Reinecke patented an updated version of Hamilton Beach's classic soda fountain Drinkmaster.

3M in 1940 introduced a heavy cast metal desk-top tape dispenser in gray by Reinecke, which replaced his first design for 3M in 1938, and which he re-designed again in 1953. Reinecke also re-designed a disposable plastic Scotch tape dispenser design that became one of the most successful and enduring examples of 20th century design. It is an ingenious refinement of one he designed in 1939 of stamped sheet metal. Both were still in production in 1998.

In 1940 Reinecke was included in a feature article, Today's Young Men, that interviewed 70 men who achieved notable success while still in their twenties and thirties.

By 1948 Barnes & Reinecke had a staff of 375 and a shop of 50 machinists who produced special purpose equipment for automation. Reinecke sold his interest in the partnership and established his own office, J.O. Reinecke & Associates, specializing in industrial design and product planning, with offices on Ohio Street in Chicago, IL. He took with him designers Jon Hauser, Harold Hart, Don B. Lowe, and CPA Jack Knight, his cousin. Their clients included Caterpillar Tractor Co., Emerson Electric, IT & T, Johnson & Johnson, Maytag, 3M Co., McGraw-Edison, Union Oil, Westinghouse and Zenith.

I was able to identify the three men at the head of the table in the postcard picture from pictures on the internet. The man bending over is Jean Reinecke; the one in the jacket with a pocket handkerchief is James Barnes; and the man between them is David Painter.

David Painter (ca. 1952)

A 1946 article Designs for Better Living from Modern Mechanix has information about the leading role Barnes and Reineke played in reconversion of factories to peacetime products after WWII. For example Barnes & Reineke developed a plan to convert a small plant that had manufactured aluminum parts for bombers to a plant making a streamlined, step-on-a-pedal garbage pail from leftover bomber segments.

I think I have had the Barnes & Reineke postcard longer than I have had a computer. I never thought of researching it until I decided to use it for Sepia Saturday. This is one of the instances when I have been surprised that I have been able to find relevant information. Although I couldn't find very many pictures of the designers or products, I did find a cool video of the 1946 Ami Model A Jukebox designed by Jean Reineke.

For More Vintage Images


  1. What fine designers and creators who fashioned new businesses from those no longer needed. enjoyed "Lollipop"! The jukebox brings back warm memories.

  2. Very interesting. It's amazing what we can find out these days via the internet.

  3. As I look at the various Sepia entries this week I realise that although ties and braces have existed throughout the 20th century, the 1950s was their era. Wonderful illustrations.

  4. I agree - great illustrations, and the card that started you off on your quest. Hmm jukeboxes - that's given me an idea for a prompt.

  5. Loved the old jukebox... one of my weaknesses.

  6. Ties, suspenders, etc. Alan's right: the 50s were an era for both. And also cigarettes -- look at those two full ashtrays on the conference table!

  7. I love that top photo - it's the early "Mad Men"!

  8. I to love the old juke boxs so much so last year we bought our on 1956 Wurlitzer she is really lovely and in use most days in our kitchen!

  9. Engineers/Designers - gotta love em. Isn't it amazing what you can find on the net. I loved seeing inside that juke box.

  10. Very interesting again! I like the layout of the first photo, so artful!

  11. A great introduction to an important profession in our modern world. Sepia Saturday posts often become a version of the games Trivia Pursuit, or maybe Quiz Night at the pub.

  12. They seemed to take such pride in their appearance in the 50s.

    I like the one cent stamp too :)

  13. A fun post! I enjoyed following along with this bit of history.

  14. That's the fun of research: to discover new information.

  15. They certainly had an impressive list of clients.
    Between your collection and the web,
    you've done splendidly!!

  16. I love it when Sepia Saturday makes me do research and I discover something interesting (to me). Rarely do I think of inventions such as the jukebox being associated with an INDIVIDUAL. It's nice to see the face behind it.

  17. This is so cool to see this postcard. Jean Otis Reinecke is my great grandfather, I always knew that he was a successful industrial designer but I never took an interest in looking into his work until now. Unfortunately I don't have much I can add to the article. However my grandmother, his daughter, lives right down the street from me. I can ask her if she would be willing to come on this page and share more information if you are interested in continuing your research on this postcard. Thanks again for sharing it!


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