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Nickel-Plated Brass Barbershop Display Cabinet by Emil J. Paidar


Learn why this extremely rare 1930s cabinet is coveted among barber shop and industrial design collectors

Industrial meets art deco in this ruggedly handsome barbershop sterilizer and display case. A mainstay of the early 20th-century gentleman's gathering and grooming place, glass cabinets like this could be found sitting on countertops or hanging on walls. Barbers used them to store and show off the tools of their trade. This particular case is an extremely rare style for this manufacturer. Unlike its all-wood predecessors, this metal-clad cabinet is designed with a bolder, tougher exterior; more medical and artillery, less parlor furniture. Designed by the Emil J. Paidar Company, it features nickel-plated brass trim and an opaque white Vitrolite* glass top. 

Creator/Attribution: Emil J. Paidar Company 
Style: Art Deco, Art Moderne, Streamline Moderne, Industrial
Origin: Chicago, Illinois, USA
Age: 1930s
Material: Nickel, Brass, Glass, Vitrolite, Wood 
Color: Silver, Gray, White, Clear  
Dimensions: 13.25" x 12.15" x 8.25"
Weight: 16.5 lbs.

Wear Consistent with Age and Use: Scratches, Chips, Paint Loss, Stains, Discoloration, Rust, Unknown Sanitizer Scent


National Barber Museum 
New York World's Fair Brochure
Dry Sterilizer Cabinet Patent, 1949
U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service
Benzie County Patriot

The Chicago-based Emil J. Paidar Company was a leading manufacturer of barber shop equipment during the first half of the 20th century. Paidar products were exhibited at the 1939 New York World's Fair, which was optimistically themed, “The World of Tomorrow.” They never imagined the dark days ahead. That same year, Germany invaded Poland and triggered World War II. 

Paidar struggled to survive those tough times. They began manufacturing military supplies, such as cartridge cases, in an attempt to keep the company alive. They even merged parts of the business with a major competitor: The Theo A. Koch Company. But by the 1970s, fierce competition from a lower-priced Japanese manufacturer forced Emil J. Paidar to shut its doors for good. 

Emil John Paidar (1875-1950) was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia. After he made the trek to America, he built the company that bears his name. On May 7, 1950, at 74, Emil J. Paidar suffered a heart attack on his way to his summer house on Little Traverse. Apparently, Paidar's heart stopped from overexertion while he attempted to free his car from roadside sand using only a little pail. 

* Vitrolite was a structural pigmented glass that gained popularity among the Art Deco and Art Moderne designers of the 1920s and 1930s. It was used extensively in architecture of the time, including the interior of the famous Woolworth Building in New York. 

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