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Rolodex Open Rotary Card File

This is a Open Rotary Card File. It was manufactured by Rolodex Corporation. It is dated 1950 and we acquired it in 1996. Its medium is bent tubular metal, molded plastic, rubber, paper. It is a part of the Product Design and Decorative Arts department.

Composed of a curved tubular metal stand, a plastic wheel, and cards, this file for storing names, addresses, and phone numbers is an artifact of the pre-digital office. Turning the wheel flips the cards, creating multiple planes. Some electronic versions are designed to evoke the tactile qualities of the rotating wheel.

This object was featured in our Object of the Week series in a post titled The Power of the Rolodex.

This object was donated by Rolodex Corporation. It is credited Gift of Rolodex Corporation.

Our curators have highlighted 17 objects that are related to this one. Here are three of them, selected at random:

  • Ojo de Agua Necklace
  • handmade paper.
  • The Susan Grant Lewin Collection, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.
  • 2016-34-100
  • Praxis 48 Typewriter
  • plastic and metal housing.
  • Gift of Barry Friedman and Patricia Pastor.
  • 1986-99-2-a,b

Its dimensions are

H x W x D: 18 x 18 x 16.5 cm (7 1/16 x 7 1/16 x 6 1/2 in.)

It has the following markings

Molded in terminal plastic knobs: "ROLODEX®" printed label/decal on foot: "ROLODEX® Model 5024X/Rolodex Corporation/Secaucus, NJ 07094-2196" red card w/white type: "ONLY ROLODEX® HAS ALL THESE ESSENTIAL FEATURES! 1. Automatic ball-bearing tension control. Hear the click-click as you turn the knob? That's the Rolomatic™ ball-bearing mechanism at work holding the card in balance wherever you stop. And it's fully automatic! [verso - black type on white ground] 2. PLASTIC GUIDES. Non-destructible, scuff-proof; can't get dog-eared. 3. GUIDE HEADINGS. Printed both sides so you can rotate file in either direction. Take the shortest route to your card. 4. INTERCHANGEABLE. Want special headings? Slip tab out and set up your own on reverse side of tab. ONLY ROLODEX® HAS ALL THESE ESSENTIAL FEATURES!"

Cite this object as

Rolodex Open Rotary Card File; Manufactured by Rolodex Corporation (United States); USA; bent tubular metal, molded plastic, rubber, paper; H x W x D: 18 x 18 x 16.5 cm (7 1/16 x 7 1/16 x 6 1/2 in.); Gift of Rolodex Corporation; 1996-14-2

We have 1 video that features Rolodex Open Rotary Card File.

Collections in Motion: Rolodexes

Six Rolodexes from the Cooper Hewitt collection being shown in motion.

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition Making Design.

The Conservation department has taken one photo of this object.

There are restrictions for re-using this image. For more information, visit the Smithsonian’s Terms of Use page.

For higher resolution or commercial use contact ArtResource.

If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Rolodex Open Rotary Card File |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=1 February 2023 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>