Signode Steel Strapping Co., est. 1913

Museum Artifact: Signode No. 1 Rawhide Mallet, c. 1940s

Made By: Signode Steel Strapping Co., 2618 N. Western Ave., Chicago, IL

Despite its century-long history and former Fortune 500 status, Signode has never quite become a household name—nor has the firm ever concerned itself much with the household. The company’s natural ecosystem, instead, has always been the warehouse; the docks; the receiving departments—any industrial landscape where they could wrap themselves around the cargo.

Stenographic Machines, Inc., est. 1938

Museum Artifact: Stenograph Reporter Model, c. 1947

Made By: Stenographic Machines, Inc., 80 E. Jackson Blvd.

“The Stenograph was the best machine ever made. It would work with or without oil. Every bearing was like a jewel.” —Robert T. Wright (1906-2000)

Now I will admit from the outset, Robert Wright’s opinion of the Stenograph might not be entirely unbiased,

Kellogg Switchboard & Supply Co., est. 1897

Museum Artifact: Kellogg Redbar 1000 Series Masterphone, c. 1947

Made By: Kellogg Switchboard & Supply Co., 6650 S. Cicero Ave., Chicago, IL

Introduced during the Kellogg Switchboard & Supply Company’s 50th anniversary in 1947, the 1000 Series “Redbar” Masterphone—like the one in our collection—is a bit of a postwar icon. It might not have the rich oak exterior of an early box phone or the brass shimmer of an old candlestick model,

Mall Tool Company, est. 1921

Museum Artifact: Mall Electric Drill model no. 380, 1940s

Made By: Mall Tool Company, 7740 S. South Chicago Ave., Chicago, IL

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

Wilson Jones Co., est. 1893

Museum Artifact: Marvel 60 Hole Punch, c. 1940s

Made By: Wilson Jones Company, 3300 W. Franklin Blvd., Chicago, IL

Long before any Marvel superhero ever punched a villain, the mighty Marvel Hole Punch was already dispensing its own brand of justice on unsuspecting sheets of binder paper. This lever-operated “paper perforator” was originally designed by Alexander and Chesley Dom of the Samuel C.

Empire Spice Mills MFG Co., est. 1937

Museum Artifact: Burma Brand Spices: Cinnamon Tin, c. 1940s

Made By: Empire Spice Mills Manufacturing Company, 917 S. Western Ave., Chicago, IL

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

Webster-Chicago Corp., est. 1914

Museum Artifact: Webster “Electronic Memory” Wire Recorder, Model 180-1, c. 1949

Made By: Webster-Chicago Corp., aka WebCor, 5622 W. Bloomingdale Ave., Chicago, IL

If you’ve ever heard your own voice on a recording and instantly recoiled at the sound, then you can attest to one of the quirkier phenomenons in the modern human experience: uncomfortable audible disembodiment. Sure, you might think you merely hate the reedy reality of your recorded words vs.

Spartus Camera Corp. / Galter MFG Co., est. 1934

Museum Artifact: Spartus Full-Vue Camera, 1940s

Made By: Spartus Camera Corp. / Galter MFG Co. / Utility MFG Co. / Monarch MFG Co., 711 W. Lake St., Chicago, IL

In 1953, a Chicago business owner submitted an application to the U.S. Trademark Association for a new line of cigarette lighters he’d developed. All the paperwork seemed in order at first, until reviewers saw the actual name the applicant wanted to register for his product… “Kodak.”

At that point in history,

Shure Brothers, Inc., est. 1925

Museum Artifact: Shure 708A Stratoliner Crystal Microphone, c. 1941

Made By: Shure Brothers, Inc., 225 West Huron Street, Chicago, IL

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

Vaughan Novelty MFG Co., est. 1910

Museum Artifact: Fox Deluxe Beer Bottle Openers, 1940s

Made By: Vaughan Novelty MFG Co., 3211 W. Carroll Ave., Chicago, IL

The beer bottle and the bottle opener—a vital symbiotic relationship that’s been mildly inconveniencing mankind for generations. No one ever knows exactly where their bottle opener is at any given moment, nor where it came from in the first place. It used to be on your keychain,

Case-Moody Pie Corp., est. 1929

Museum Artifact: Case-Moody Pie Pans, c. 1940s

Made By: Case-Moody Pie Corporation, 1807 W. Walnut Street, Chicago, IL

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

A.L. Hansen MFG Company, est. 1920

Museum Artifact: Hansen Tacker / Stapler, c. 1940s

Made by: A. L. Hansen MFG Co., 5037 N. Ravenswood Ave., Chicago, IL

The vintage Hansen Tacker pictured above looks and functions much like the manual staple guns of today—it’s spring-loaded, uses tough wire staples (also made by Hansen), and has an upturned squeeze-trigger handle for one-handed efficiency. It was used for the same sorts of handyman tasks,

General Television & Radio Corp., est. 1932

Museum Artifact: General Tube Radio 19A5, c. 1947

Made By: General Television & Radio Corp., 2701 N. Lehmann Ct., Chicago, IL

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