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Paper acquisition: Fox Art Supply

Fact: there’s a lot of paper out there. A lot. And while there’s no shortage of basic types like copy paper, there are also rare gems you can find if you look hard enough—for a price.

As some of you know I often work with businesses like architecture firms and print shops to score some overstock or retired print outs for free. It takes that stock off of their hands and does good. Win, win.

The reality is if I relied on that alone, Resketch would run out of paper; or at least run out of interesting paper. So thanks to a simple IFTTT recipe, I get notified when paper posts appear on in the Chicago area on Craigslist. It’s not perfect by any stretch, as I have to sort through a bunch of unrelated oddities, but it’s become an important facet to my paper diversion efforts.

Recently I saw a post for some loose lined notebook paper. 57,000 sheets to be exact. The price was right, and it could be delivered so I jumped at the chance. Turns out there was more where that came from.


A family purchased a building in Humboldt Park and the business that operated in the lower level came with the sale. Enter: Fox Art Supply, a lesser-known, now-mostly-defunct art supply company that worked directly with Chicago Public Schools to provide them with a range of art supplies. From drawing to ceramics, paints to rulers, untouched sketchbooks to pencil sharpeners, they were a one-stop-shop for CPS art class needs.

But like all too many things nowadays, no doubt complicated by the ebb and flow of interest in art by CPS, the company’s time was up, and there was a lot of stuff to sell off.

I told them about Resketch, and thankfully, Eric the nice guy who sold me the lined paper, got in touch about some other paper he had in stock. I finally got over there and I was so glad I did. The sheer amount of amazing paper was staggering. Granted, much of it was going to be sold, but there was undoubtedly going to be some that would never sell, and would, therefore, be recycled or tossed.


Also keep in mind this place was a time capsule, untouched for years, much of the paper and other items in original packaging! It was a blast to go through; truly a pickers dream.

The nice thing about this paper is how special it is; no basic white copy paper here. Instead, it’s for art-making: charcoal paper, loose sketchbook sheets, manilla drawing paper, double-sided color sheets, scratchboard, adhesive-backed stamp paper, and so much more. Enough, in fact, to last two more production runs, if not more.

I also found a couple of things I bought and have put on sale outright: these fantastic ‘Jewel’ pocket notebooks by Westab, and these amazing 12-inch wooden printers rulers by Westcott. I thought, “why would I buy these only to cut them down and make them into spiral bound, when they’re perfect as is?” So a couple of dozen are online now, complete with a vague basement scent (no water damage, just the scent). The rulers are beautiful unto themselves, too, and worthy of any artist or designers desktop.

Westab is an interesting company, with beginnings in the early 1900s through the 1940s with their Big Chief Tablet. Then in the 1960s when they hit it big with a ‘spiral notebook’. As in they invented it! A few years later they were acquired by Mead. Year later, accompanied by a variety of mergers and acquisitions, MeadWestvaco is now a $6 billion dollar company.

Westcott also has a proud history, and is still in existence today.

The folks at Fox Art Supply were absolutely a joy to deal with. And while I never take joy in seeing a business wind down, I’m glad Resketch can make sure this paper is used in creative ways and is saved from an untimely death. I wish them well, and a give them a hearty thank you.

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