Eugene Dietzgen Co., est. 1885

Museum Artifact: No. 2745 Handy Pen-Filling Ink Stand, c. 1930

Made By: Eugene Dietzgen Co., 990 W. Fullerton Ave., Chicago, IL

“Wherever Dietzgen products go, something important is always brewing. It may be in a little office in some huge factory where a new high-altitude plane is being born on the drawing board. It may be in far-off Africa where new flying fields or military highways are to take shape amid burning sands for a new turn in war strategy.

American Flyer MFG Co., est. 1907

Museum Artifact: Wide Gauge “Pocahontas” Electric Model Train Set with No. 4637 “Shasta” Locomotive, c. 1928, and O-Gauge Cast Iron Locomotive No. 3195, c. 1930.

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

“Just Like Real Trains: The new 1928 American Flyer Rainbow Line radiates an atmosphere of supreme quality. Its exquisite beauty, realistic design, and skillful workmanship will instantly capture your admiration.

Green Duck Company, est. 1906

Museum Artifact: Franklin D. Roosevelt Pinback Campaign Button, 1936

Made By: The Green Duck Company, 1725 W. North Ave., Chicago, IL

“We were as happy to be of service to the GOP as to the Democrats, and vice versa. Where politics is concerned, ‘I’m For Me’ and Green Duck is for Green Duck. That’s the way it’s got to be.” —Green Duck Company vice president Earl Butler,

Bally MFG Company, est. 1932

Museum Artifact: Bally Mechanical Slot Machine Reel, c. 1930s

Made By: Bally MFG Co., 2640 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago, IL

Bally is one of the most recognizable and yet seemingly untethered brand names in America. It’s been associated—depending on your age and demographic—with arcade video games, casinos, rollercoaster theme parks, fitness club chains, and, starting in 2021, a stable of regional TV sports networks.

Curt Teich & Co., est. 1898

Museum Artifacts: 1933 Chicago World’s Fair Postcards (C.T. American Art and C.T. Colortone), published by Max Rigot Selling Company

Made By: Curt Teich & Company, 1733-1755 W. Irving Park Rd., Chicago, IL

“If one were seeking the vernacular aesthetic of a period, the postcard is where you will find it . . . It is the least elitist form of artefact.” —Tom Phillips,

Bloomfield Industries, est. 1933

Museum Artifacts: Cast Iron Fry Cutter (1930s) & Stainless Steel Ice Cream Scoop, (1960s)

Made By: Bloomfield MFG Co. / Bloomfield Industries, 3333 S. Wells St. and 4546 W. 47th St.

Some men have lived and learned through living
Some men have learned by seein’ true
You cannot judge from what they’re sayin’
It’s real clear from what they do
—lyrics by Michael Bloomfield from the song “Good Old Guy,”

Valmor Products Co., est. 1926

Museum Artifact: Lucky Brown Hair Pressing Oil, 1938

Made By: Valmor Products Co. / Famous Products Co., 2241 S. Indiana Ave., Chicago, IL

Whether you enjoy debating the ethics of cultural appropriation, the definition of true art, or the line between female empowerment and objectification, the story of the Valmor Products Company basically covers all the bases—like a pulp-novel catalog of 20th century American contradictions.

Ampro Corporation, est. 1914

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

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

“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 in Movie Makers magazine,

Allied MFG Co., est. 1934

Museum Artifact: Komic Kamera Film Strip Viewer, 1934

Made By: Allied MFG Co., 1338 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL

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 viewing of scenic or other picture films .

Kling Bros. & Co., est. 1897

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

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

“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.

Bambino Products Co., est. 1933

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

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

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 as a sportsman.

Princess Pat, Ltd., est. 1907

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

Made By: Princess Pat, Ltd., 2709 South Wells Street, Chicago, IL

“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,

T. C. Gleason MFG Co., est. 1905

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

Made By: T. C. Gleason MFG Co., 325 W. Madison St., Chicago, IL

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 tetanus.

Automatic Pencil Sharpener Co., est. 1905

Museum Artifacts: (1) “U.S. Automatic” Pencil Sharpener, 1908; (1) “Giant,” (1) ‘Gem,” (2) “Chicago” (1920s), and (4) “Dexter” sharpeners, 1930s

Made By: Automatic Pencil Sharpener Co. / Spengler-Loomis MFG Co., 58 E. Washington St., Chicago, IL . Factory: 2415 Kishwaukee Street, Rockford, IL.

For many of us, the sight of an old desk-mounted, mechanical pencil sharpener brings back some sensory-charged childhood memories—the thrilling turn of the crank,

Bersted Manufacturing Co., est. 1924

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

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

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;

Automatic Electric Company, est. 1901

Museum Artifact: Monophone 1A – Desktop Rotary Telephone, c. 1930s

Made By: Automatic Electric Company, 1001 W. Van Buren St., Chicago, IL

Research is underway on this one and a full write-up will be coming soon.