1930s

Museum Artifact: AMPRO Precision Projector, KS model, c. 1936

Made By: The Ampro Corporation., 2839-51 N. Western Ave., Chicago, IL [Bucktown]

"Everything that projection engineers could wish to achieve . . . everything that you movie-makers have felt should go into the ideal 16mm mechanism . . . everything you could possibly wish for, is combined in the AMPRO Precision Projector.” —advertisement...


Museum Artifact: Komic Kamera Film Strip Viewer, 1934

Made By: Allied MFG Co., 1338 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL [Near South Side]

Once upon a time, during a fleeting moment of optimism smack dab in the solar plexus of the Great Depression, an 18 year-old kid named Harold B. Shapiro applied for a patent on a device he called a “film exhibitor”—a small bakelite box intended for the “direct viewin...

Museum Artifact: Indestro Bottle Capper, 1920s

Made By: Indestro MFG Co., 3429 W. 47th St. [Central MFG District] / Duro Metal Products, 2649 N. Kildare Ave. [Hermosa]

When Gertrude McNaught Odlum died in 1992, aged 96, she was widely remembered as an award-winning breeder of dairy cows, owning a pair of multi-million dollar farms in the Chicago suburbs ("Rolling Acres" and "Odlum Farm"). Far less...

Museum Artifact: Cast Iron Locomotive No. 3195, c. 1930

Made by: American Flyer MFG Co., 2229 S. Halsted St., Chicago, IL [Pilsen]

There’s something inherently sad about a solitary steam engine—even a toy one. With no tender, it has no imaginary fuel, and with no boxcars, it serves no imaginary purpose. Our particular locomotive doesn’t even have a lonesome whistle to blow. Still, if we're talking...

Museum Artifact: Tailor's Measuring Tape, c. 1930s

Made By: Kling Bros. & Co. Inc., 2300 W. Wabansia Ave, Chicago, IL [Wicker Park]

“Garments that combine character and charm with lines that are clean cut, comfortable, and correct. . . . Are you one of the ten thousand dealers who know the immeasurable satisfaction to be found in KLING-MADE clothing specialties?” 1920 ad for Kling Bros. & Co.

Klin...

Museum Artifact: Bambino World's Fair Baseball Board Game, 1933

Made By: The Bambino Products Co., 103-105 S. Jefferson St., Chicago, IL [West Loop]

George Herman “Babe” Ruth—the Great Bambino—was arguably the most famous person in the United States in 1933. Even in the twilight of his baseball career, at age 38, he was literally and figuratively a larger-than-life character; a celebrity as much a...

Museum Artifact: Princess Pat Duo-Tone Rouge, c. 1931

Made By: Princess Pat, Ltd., 2709 South Wells Street, Chicago, IL [Armour Square]

“She is exquisite, this woman of today. She is frank—too vivid and intense for pretense. She revels in luxury . . . Color, line, softness, she perceives and strives for. She does not fear her mirror.” —excerpt from Princess Pat sales booklet, “This Exquisite Beaut...

Museum Artifact: Knights of Columbus Ceremonial Sword, c. 1930s

Made By; T. C. Gleason MFG Co., 325 W. Madison St., Chicago, IL [Downtown/The Loop]

A Knights of Columbus sword, as you might presume, is made for symbolic, decorative use—not for combat. That being said, the sword in our collection, likely dating from the 1930s, is just sharp enough—and rusty enough—to at least pose a minor threat of...

Museum Artifact: Bersted Electric Toaster No. 74, c. 1932

Made By: Bersted MFG Co., 5201 W. 65th St., Chicago, IL [Clearing]

The toaster of the future! The toaster for all times! The apex of toasterdom!

Looking like a miniaturized attraction from the "Century of Progress" World's Fair, this majestic creation by Chicago's Bersted MFG Company was actually a bargain basement brand for its day; somethi...

Museum Artifact: Peppy Thrill Punch Board Game, 1939

Made By: Chas. A. Brewer & Sons, 6320 S. Harvard Avenue, Chicago, IL [Englewood]

“One out of every three adults plays a punchboard or slot machine. More people do this than play church lotteries, the horses, and numbers games—all three combined.” —Samuel Lubell, Saturday Evening Post, 1939

Produced the very same year as the article quoted above,...

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