Agreed, 1280 x 1024 is also my favorite monitor size, even though I have a 1920 x 1200 for regular work.
Did you try searching for refurbished monitors? In many countries old computer equipment from offices is bought by resellers who test and when necessary repair the equipment and then sell it for a fraction of the original price. I have bought some pretty neat equipment from the refurbish market.
You'll find 17 or 19 inch 1280*1024 monitors are still available new but struggle to get anything bigger or of a higher resolution.
Even going for touchscreen monitors isn't giving you any other options (which can lag the widescreen uptake due to many being bought as replacements for expensive kiosks that need the same shape monitor - or have software that is designed to look best "square").
yes it is frustrating! i have a video wall in my sitting room - well not actually video, it actually runs slideshows of jpgs from a central server
... i know these days i could do it with 'digital photoframes' but i like the control of running it from the network and this has been set up for over a decade and works well, except for needing some new screens that can be wall mounted - and of course pictures tend to look better on 3:4 or 4:5 monitors, especially when rotated to be upright
>struggle to get anything bigger or of a higher resolution
yes you are right there, i'd love to get something bigger than 19 inch.