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,

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,

Adams & Westlake Company, est. 1857

Museum Artifact: Adlake Truck Lamp, c. 1910s

Made by: Adams & Westlake Co., 320 W. Ohio St. / 319 W. Ontario St., Chicago, IL

Much like one of today’s showbiz power couples, the partnership of Chicago railroad supply magnates John McGregor Adams and William Westlake produced its own linguistic portmanteau in the late 1800s, as the name “ADLAKE” (combining ADams and WestLAKE) soon evolved into their company’s primary identity.

TootsieToy & the Dowst MFG Co., est. 1876

Museum Artifacts: TootsieToy Die-Cast Cars: No. 4655 Ford Model A Coupe and No. 4629 Sedan, c. 1928

Made By: Dowst Brothers / Dowst Manufacturing Co., 4537 W. Fulton St., Chicago, IL

Chicago-based brothers Charles and Samuel Dowst were arguably as foundational to the toy car industry as Henry Ford was to the real thing. It was work on a significantly smaller scale,

C. Cretors & Co., est. 1885

Museum Artifacts: Cretors Popcorn Wagon Steam Engine, 1908, and Pop Corn Carton, 1920s

Made By: C. Cretors & Company, 600 W. Cermak Road, Chicago, IL

“Cretors’ Pop Corn is the most pleasing of any in the world. No other novelty gives such a degree of enjoyment and satisfaction for the money. Relished by all, young or old—rich and poor alike, during all seasons of the year—it wins instant success everywhere,

Gold Eagle Products Co., est. 1932

Museum Artifact: Gold Eagle Radiator Seal, c. 1940s

Made By: Gold Eagle Products Co., 1050 W. Kinzie Street, Chicago, IL

In the early 1990s, when a lot of Chicago’s remaining “mom and pop” manufacturing businesses were reluctantly cashing in their chips, the family-owned Gold Eagle Company was bucking the trends—50% annual revenue growth, to be specific, with tailwinds into the 21st century.

Arnold, Schwinn & Co., est. 1895

Museum Artifact: Schwinn “Hollywood” Bicycle, c. 1970

Made By: Arnold, Schwinn & Co. / Schwinn Bicycle Company, 1718-1740 N. Kildare & 1856 N. Kostner Ave., Chicago, IL

The last Chicago-built Schwinn bicycle rolled off the assembly line in 1982, and while the brand name is still embossed on the badges of various Chinese imports, anybody who buys a new one is bound to hear the inevitable cranky lament from a passerby: “they don’t make ‘em like they used to.”

The Schwinn in our own collection is a “campus green” Hollywood model,

Wm. E. Pratt MFG Co., est. 1893

Museum Artifact: “Little Giant” Ratcheting Screw Jack, c. 1917

Made By: William E. Pratt Manufacturing Co., 35 W. Lake St., & 190 N. State St., Chicago, IL , Foundry in Joliet, IL

On the great Venn diagram of Chicago industry, at the sliver-sized intersection of Model T Fords, decoy ducks, and the atomic bomb, you can find the unique domain of the Wm.

Damon MFG Co., est. 1914

Museum Artifact: 999 Polish for Automobiles, Pianos & Furniture, 1920s

Made By: Damon MFG Co., 325 W. Ohio Street, Chicago, IL

“Oxidation, it is pointed out by the manufacturer of Damon’s 999 automobile and furniture polish, is the reason for loss of luster and deadened appearance in any varnish finish. It is claimed 999 polish keeps the surface waterproof and airtight with pure wax,

Motorola Inc., est. 1928

Museum Artifact: Motorola Volumatic AM Car Radio, 1956

Made By: Motorola Inc. / Galvin MFG Corp., 4545 W. Augusta Blvd., Chicago, IL

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

Schwinn Majestic Bicycle Head Badge by Arnold, Schwinn & Co., 1940s

Arnold, Schwinn & Co. / Schwinn Bicycle Company, 1718 N. Kildare & 1856 N. Kostner Ave., Chicago, IL

These days, a head badge on the front of a bicycle is basically just an identification tag—a flat plastic hood ornament for lazy brand recognition. As you can tell by this flashy metal Schwinn “Majestic” badge from the deco era, however, even a small, functionally irrelevant bike part used to get the full VIP treatment down at the Arnold,

The Simoniz Company, est. 1910

Museum Artifact: Simoniz Car Wax Tin, 1940s

Made By: Simoniz Company, 2100 S. Indiana Avenue, Chicago, IL

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

Van Cleef Bros., est. 1909

Museum Artifact: Dutch Brand Grinding Compound, c. 1940s

Made By: Van Cleef Bros., 7709 Woodlawn Ave, Chicago, IL

A century-old, gently used can of “grinding compound” sits on a dusty shelf at the going-out-of-business sale of the old Riverside Cafe in Bucktown. The label says “Dutch Brand,” but as I’d come to learn, the men behind its manufacture were actually five Chicago-born brothers of Belgian descent;