Monark Silver King, Inc., est. 1934

Museum Artifact: Monark Silver King “Roadster” Girls Bicycle, 1950s

Made By: Monark Silver King, Inc., 6501 W. Grand Ave.

“Now—An Aluminum Bicycle! The same metal which made possible present-day high-speed trains and airplanes, makes the frame of the new-type SILVER KING bicycle. Aluminum alloy—much lighter than steel, but with 3 times the tensile strength, weight for weight. Gives faster speed, greater strength, and snappier appearance.” —advertisement for the first Monark Silver King bicycle,

Hallicrafters Company, est. 1932

Museum Artifact: Hallicrafters Model 5R34A Continental Radio, 1952

Made By: Hallicrafters Company, 4401 W. Fifth Ave., Chicago, IL

“For radio equipment that won’t be satisfied with the limits of the pre-war world, for radio that will go places and do things hitherto undreamed of and uncharted—look to Hallicrafters, builders of the radio man’s radio.”—Hallicrafters magazine advertisement, 1944

William J.

Halsam Products Co. & Elgo Plastics, est. 1917

 

Museum Artifact: Elgo American Plastic Bricks set No. 705 (1950s) and Halsam Double Twelve Club Dominoes (1960s)

Made By: Halsam Products Co., 4114 N. Ravenswood Ave., Chicago, IL

Upon encountering an old cylindrical cardboard container of “American Plastic Bricks by Elgo,” nine out of ten people are likely to make the same spontaneous assumption—that they’re looking at a cheap knockoff of LEGO.

Gateway Engineering Co., est. 1933

Museum Artifact: Gateway Junior Model NP-1 Sewing Machine, c. 1950

Made By: Gateway Engineering Company / Gateway Erectors, Inc., 233 W. Grand Ave., Chicago, IL

“The Toy Sewing Machine that really sews!” —1948 advertisement for the Gateway Junior Model

Produced only for a short time from the late 1940s into the 1950s, the Gateway line of toy sewing machines represents a case study in a business making the most out of its extraneous materials.

Turtle Wax, Inc., est. 1941

Museum Artifact: Turtle Wax “Hard Shell Finish” Auto Polish, 1950s

Made By: Plastone Company / Turtle Wax, Inc., 4100 W. Grand Ave. and 1800 N. Clybourn Ave.

On June 4, 1956—just five years after the first bottles of Turtle Wax “Miracle Auto Polish” hit the consumer market—Chicago workmen began installing a new, ludicrously enormous advertisement for the product, situated atop the roof of the Wendell State Bank “Flatiron” Building at the intersection of Madison,

Langson Manufacturing Co. / LMCO, est. 1923

Museum Artifact: LMCO Cody Colt Paper Buster Gun, 1950s

Made By: Langson MFG Co., 4200 W. Wrightwood Ave., Chicago, IL

It might have the look and sound of a typical cowboy-themed cap gun from the 1950s, but there’s something a tad different about the LMCO “Cody Colt”—something that helps distinguish Chicago’s Langson Manufacturing Company from most of the competing toy gun manufacturers of its era.

Mid City Uniform Cap Co. & Citation Hat Corp., est. 1925

Museum Artifacts: CitationBeaver Quality Fedora, c. 1950s, and Mid City Khaki Garrison Cap, 1948

Made By: Citation Hat Corp. / Mid City Uniform Cap Company, 2330 W. Cermak Rd., Chicago, IL

“I hate like hell to praise myself, but at the same time I cannot go away from the truth.” —Harry Lev

In the summer of 1955, Harry “The Hat” Lev—53 year-old owner of the Citation Hat Company,

American Family Scale Co., est. 1928

Museum Artifact: 25 LB Kitchen Scale, c. 1950s

Made by: American Family Scale Co., 515 S. Laflin St., Chicago, IL

A television metaphor might not be entirely apropos for the time period, but when the American Family Scale Company was established in 1928, it was essentially a “spin-off” of Chicago’s venerable American Cutlery Company. In fact, all the classic hallmarks of a TV spin-off were there:

1—The original,

Adjustable Clamp Company, est. 1903

Museum Artifact: Jorgensen Hand Screw Clamps, c. 1950s

Made by: Adjustable Clamp Co., 417 N Ashland Ave., Chicago, IL

Back in 2015, when the Made In Chicago Museum was in its developmental stages, the Adjustable Clamp Company stood out as the rare “feel good” story amidst a sea of shuttered factories, outmoded merchandise, and forgotten dreams. The respected tool manufacturer, which changed its name to Pony Tools in 2013 (adopting the title of one of its’ long-running brands),

Permo Inc. / Fidelitone, est. 1929

Museum Artifacts: Fidelitone Master and Supreme Phonograph Needles and All-Groove Needle Counter Display, 1950s

Made By: Permo, Inc. / Fidelitone, Inc., 6415 N. Ravenswood Ave., Chicago, IL

Still in business today and headquartered just an hour north of Chicago in the small town of Wauconda, Illinois (Wauconda Forever!), Fidelitone Inc. is technically the same company that Arthur J. Olsen started way back in 1929,

Admiral Corp., est. 1934

Museum Artifact: Admiral Deluxe Table Radio, 1955

Made by: Admiral Corp., 3800 West Cortland Street, Chicago, IL

“Here’s a radio you’ll get a tremendous thrill out of owning! So smart, with its golden-mesh metal grille and dial . . . so contrasting in choice of Ivory, Beige, Green or Mahogany cabinet colors. So low-priced for the performance it gives! This is the new radio you have been looking for!”

White Cap Company, est. 1926

Museum Artifact: Vapor-Vacuum Jar Cap Opener, 1950s

Made By: White Cap Company, 1819 N. Major Ave., Chicago, IL

If you want to start a successful business, invent a solution to one of mankind’s great conundrums. If you want to stay in business, be ready to fix all the new problems your solution creates.

Back in 1930, a small Goose Island start-up called the White Cap Company introduced its “Vapor Vacuum” lid sealing system—a revolutionary new steam-based method for preserving the freshness and flavor of bottled commercial foods.

Bell & Howell Co., est. 1907

Museum Artifacts: Bell & Howell 8mm Magazine Movie Camera 172 (c. 1950), Filmo Auto Load 16mm Movie Camera (1940s), and Filmosound 179 16mm Film Projector (1940s)

Made By: Bell & Howell Co., 1801 W. Larchmont Ave., Chicago, IL

“When you buy a roll of film, it is worth just what you pay for it, and no more. But, once it has gone through your camera,