Repurposed 1890s Cast Iron Paper Cutter – Secretary Desk – Table



Availability: 1 in stock


For sale is a truly one-of-a-kind steampunk creation. An 1890s Industrial Cast Iron Paper Cutter re-purposed into a – Secretary Desk, End Table, or kitchen Island. The paper cutter was manufactured by the Challenge Machinery Company, Chicago Illinois. The steel wheel atop the metal arch is fully functional and moves the metal gate under the arch up and down. The original purpose of the metal gate was a vice to hold the blocks of paper in place to be chopped by a large guillotine blade. The two large support legs have a u-channel construction. Gold design accents have been added to the metal legs and gate. A gold fruit tree is also stenciled on one side of one support leg to symbolize the final retirement of this paper cutter. The desk has a mahogany top and bottom shelf. The metal arch includes a makers mark that reads: “MANUFACTURED BY THE CHALLENGE MACHINERY CO, CHICAGO, U.S.A.”

This unique item would work well as a computer desk. The bottom shelf is perfect for a CPU tower and printer. The space behind gate is a good space for speakers. Since the cutter looks great from all angles, it would also make a good kitchen island or accent piece. However, its used, it will certainly command attention as a conversational piece.  The paper cutter stands 55 inches high, 31 inches wide, and 28 inches deep. The wood top measures 26 inches by 25 inches. The bottom shelf is about 25 1/2 inches square. The metal wheel atop the arch is 14 inches in diameter. The paper cutter can be fully disassembled for transport. The metal arch is held in place by 4 bolts. The two support legs are joined together by 6 bolts. The bottom wood shelf can be lifted as one piece of two cross bars. The top surface can also be removed as a single piece. Fully assembled, the paper cutter weighs a substantial amount. The paper cutter is free of rust and any defects.

In September of 1870, an electrotype foundry was established in Chicago to produce cuts for letterpress printing. It was founded under the name of Shniedewend & Lee. In 1871, the young company would have been wiped out by the disastrous Chicago fire but for the quick thinking of partner James Lee and a foundry foreman. The two men loaded master electrotype cuts and important books and papers onto a horse drawn wagon and drove it to safety in the knee deep waters of Lake Michigan. Two weeks later, the firm reopened in a barn. In 1887, the firm established a paper cutter factory. In 1893, the Shniedewend & Lee Company was reorganized as the Challenge Machinery Company and produced the first Challenge paper cutter. In 1903, the company relocated to Grand Haven, Michigan. The paper cutter for sale was manufactured between 1893 and 1903.

Dimensions 60 × 35 × 30 in