Ace Fastener Corp., est. 1930

Museum Artifact: Ace Pilot Stapler 404, c. 1960s

Made by: Ace Fastener Corp., 3415 N. Ashland Ave., Chicago, IL

Adapted from a patent application first filed back in 1930, the Ace Pilot stapler is a fine example of a simple, purely utilitarian design that gradually takes on a sort of retroactive decorative appeal.

The early models were so pitch perfect in function,

Paymaster Corp., est. 1917

Museum Artifact: Paymaster Series X-550 Check Writer Machine, 1960s

Made By: The Paymaster Corp., 1811 W. Winnemac Ave., Chicago, IL

“The only way to have the Paymaster system when you NEED it is to have one all the time—NOW!”—tagline from 1951 Paymaster sales manual

Often kept well out of sight in the backrooms of banks and the HR departments of small businesses,

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,”

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.

Nestor Johnson MFG Co., est. 1912

Museum Artifact: Johnsons Ice Skates, c. 1960s

Made By: Nestor Johnson MFG Co., 1900 N. Springfield Ave., Chicago, IL

“The first pair of tubular skates made in the United States or Canada were made in Chicago by Nestor Johnson. . . . He made the only really important change in centuries of skate making. From the old flat steel or solid type skate to the All Steel,

Ekco Products Co., est. 1888

Museum Artifacts: EKCO Miracle Can Opener 885 (c. 1960s) and EKCO Helmet Bottle Stopper (c. 1940s)

Made by: Ekco Products Co., 1949 N. Cicero Ave., Chicago, IL

“We taught your mother a new way to open chicken soup,” read the presumptuous tagline of a 1965 advertisement for the Miracle Can Opener—arguably the most recognizable of the thousands of utensils produced by the EKCO Housewares Company.

S&C Electric Company, est. 1911

Museum Artifact: SM-4 Power Fuse Refill Unit, 1960s

Made By: S&C Electric Co., 6601 N. Ridge Blvd., Chicago, IL

In 2012, shortly after Chicago’s S&C Electric Company marked its 100th anniversary, the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) awarded the business special recognition for one of the “milestone” achievements in electrical engineering history—the 1909 invention of the liquid power fuse. During a special dedication ceremony at S&C’s Rogers Park headquarters,

Carl Goldberg Models, Inc., est. 1955

Museum Artifact: Stunt Man 23 Model Airplane Kit, c. 1970

Made By: Carl Goldberg Models, Inc., 4734 W. Chicago Ave., Chicago, IL

Unless you’ve been a model airplane enthusiast at some point in your life, the name Carl Goldberg might not mean much to you. For several generations of young, aspiring aeronautical engineers, however, his work probably mattered more than anything Charles Lindbergh ever did.

Johnson Products Company, est. 1954

Museum Artifact: Ultra Sheen magazine advertisements, 1966

Made By: Johnson Products Company, Inc., 8522 S. Lafayette Ave., Chicago, IL

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

Hammond Organ Company, est. 1928

Museum Artifact: Hammond Organ Generator Oil Can, 1960s

Made By: Hammond Organ Co., 4200 W. Diversey Ave., Chicago, IL

“Smaller than a piano, a midget in comparison with the vast pipe organs of traditional style, yet capable of 253 million different tones; this is the electric organ invented by Laurens Hammond of Chicago.” —Popular Mechanics, April 1936

It’s hard to say how a musical instrument capable of producing millions of different tones could simultaneously be “distinctive”

Dad’s Root Beer Co., est. 1937

Museum Artifact: Unopened Dad’s Root Beer “Mama” Bottle, 1960s

Made By: Dad’s Root Beer Co., 2800 N. Talman Avenue, Chicago, IL

“It’s a completely new idea! Genuine draft root beer in bottles!”

When Dad’s Root Beer creators Ely Klapman and Barney Berns rolled out their first big national ad campaign in 1941, they did so with an immediate contradiction in terms—a “completely new” thing was also promoted as the “old fashioned” root beer.

Vee-Jay Records, est. 1953

Museum Artifact: “Introducing The Beatles” Vinyl LP, 1964

Made By: Vee-Jay Records, Inc., 1449 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL

To a serious record collector, the copy of Introducing… The Beatles in our museum collection probably wouldn’t appear all that special. It is, after all, a non-mint example of the second and considerably more common version of the album,

Maher Printing Co. – DownBeat, est. 1936

Museum Artifact: 8 Issues of DownBeat Magazine, 1964-1968

Made By: Maher Printing Co. / Maher Publications, 205 W. Monroe St., Chicago, IL

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

Replogle Globes, Inc., est. 1930

Museum Artifact: Replogle 12″ Relief Globe, 1964

Made By: Replogle Globes, Inc., 1901 N. Narragansett Avenue, Chicago, IL

Replogle, appropriately enough, is one of Chicago’s best-traveled brand names. If you look for the trademark on any random spinning globe you encounter (it’s usually stamped a little west of the Galapagos Islands), you’ll quickly get a sense of how this former mom-and-pop enterprise grew larger than any “to-scale model”

Wilbac MFG Co., est 1940s

Museum Artifact: Expando Grand Slam Baseball Cap, c. 1960s

Made By: Wilbac MFG Co., 913 W. Van Buren St., Chicago, IL

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