Columbia Medallion Studios, est. 1888

Museum Artifact: Tintype Photo Medallion of Woman, c. 1910s

Made By: Columbia Medallion Studios / Columbia Portrait Co., 6616-6620 South Cottage Grove Ave., Chicago, IL

“These beautiful photo medallions are the most artistic portraits ever produced. They are mounted on non-corrosive metal specially prepared. The portrait is burnt in, same as on porcelain, and covered with heavy celluloid, making the picture strong and imperishable,

DeVry Corporation, est. 1913

Museum Artifact: DeVry 16mm Movie Camera, 1929

Made By: DeVry Corp. / QRS-DeVry Corp., 1111 W. Armitage Ave., Chicago, IL

“For three decades, Dr. Herman A. DeVry—the man who conceived the idea of projector portability—made a succession of engineering contributions to the progress of visual education that won him a place with Thomas A. Edison and George Eastman on the Honor Roll of the Society of Motion Picture Engineers.” —DeVry Corp.

Sears, Roebuck & Co., est. 1893

Museum Artifact: “A Trip Through Sears Roebuck & Co.” – Set of 50 Stereoview Photo Cards, c. 1908

Made By: Sears, Roebuck & Company, 925 S. Homan Avenue, Chicago, IL

“Which company do you think has the most stores, the most customers, the most sales, the most profits – and at the same time is the most loved, the most far-flung, the most legendary,

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,

Herbert George Co., est. 1945

Museum Artifact: Imperial Satellite 127 Flash Camera, c. 1950s

Made By: Herbert George Company, 311 N. Desplaines St.., Chicago, IL

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

Chicago Projecting Co., est. 1898

Museum Artifact: Glass Magic Lantern Slides, c. 1900s

Made By: Chicago Projecting Company, 225 Dearborn St., Chicago, IL

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

Revere Camera Company, est. 1939

Museum Artifact: Revere 88 Movie Camera and Revere 85 Movie Projector, 1940s

Made By: Revere Camera Company, 320 E. 21st St., Chicago, IL

“The Revere takes the clearest and steadiest home movies you have ever seen. Its advanced design (pocket size), its exclusive automatic film-threading sprocket, five speeds (including slow motion), precision construction, and many other proven features make Revere the outstanding value of 8mm movie cameras.”

Three Dimension Co., est. 1940

Museum Artifact: TDC Vivid Mainliner 300 Slide Projector, c. 1950s

Made By: Three Dimension Company, 4555 W. Addison St., Chicago, IL

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

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 .

Coronet Instructional Media, est. 1934

Museum Artifact: 4 Educational Filmstrips + Audio Records – Aesop’s Fables, 1968

Made By: Coronet Films / Coronet Instructional Media Inc., 65 East South Water Street, Chicago, IL

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

Acme-Lite MFG Co., est. 1935

Museum Artifact: Mov-E-Lite Portable Flood Light Bar, c. 1950s

Made By: Acme-Lite Manufacturing Co., 401 N. Wood St., Chicago, IL

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

Bell & Howell Co., est. 1907

Museum Artifacts: Bell & Howell 8mm Magazine Movie Camera 172 (c. 1950), Filmo Auto Load 16mm Movie Camera (1940s), Filmosound 179 16mm Film Projector (1940s), Filmo Projector 57 Model GG (c. 1930s)

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.

Burke & James, Inc., est. 1897

Museum Artifact: Rexo Junior Camera, 1910s

Made By: Burke & James, Inc., 240-58 E. Ontario St., Chicago, IL

By 1915, New York’s Eastman Company had adopted a recurring tagline in most of its magazine advertisements: “If it’s not an Eastman, it’s not a Kodak.” This was a not-so-subtle way of reminding the American public that—while there were an increasing number of new,

United States Camera Co. / Pho-Tak Corp., est. 1947

Museum Artifact: Vagabond “120” Camera, c. 1951

Made By: United States Camera Co. / Pho-Tak Corporation, 17 N. Loomis St., Chicago, IL

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

Essanay Film MFG Co., est. 1907

Museum Artifact: Charlie Chaplin Collectible Postcard, Essanay No. 1 , 1915

Made By: Essanay Film MFG Co. / Essanay Studios, 1333 W. Argyle St., Chicago, IL

On a quiet, tree-lined street in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood, just north of the old St. Boniface Cemetery and around the corner from the Green Mill jazz club and the long-shuttered Uptown Theatre (once one of the world’s great movie palaces),

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,

Excel Projector Corp., est. 1933

Museum Artifact: Excel Film Projector, c. 1940s

Made By: Excel Projector Corp. / Excel Movie Products Inc., 4234 Drummond Place, Chicago, IL

From the late 1930s to the early 1950s—in that pop cultural gap between the height of the movie palace era and the birth of television—film projectors emerged as the first great visual medium for home entertainment. Along with the ever-present Kodak, several Chicago companies became key suppliers in this new home movie industry,

Compco Corp., est. 1940s

Museum Artifact: Compco 8mm Film Reel & Can, c. 1950s

Made By: Compco Corp., 1800 N. Spaulding Ave.

In the middle of the 20th century, home-made 8mm movies weren’t thought of as fuzzy sentimental keepsakes of long-ago family memories. They were hip technology—the Youtube of the times, giving millions of middle class folks the chance to see themselves (and maybe their kids, too,

Ingento No. 7 Paper Cutter by Burke & James Inc., c. 1920s

Burke & James, Inc., 240-258 E. Ontario St., Chicago, IL

The Ingento No. 7 was Burke & James’ custom-made guillotine / trimming board for 5×7″ photographic prints. The “Ingento” brand, like the “Rexo” and others, was used liberally across a lot of the Burke & James product lines, including some of the actual cameras themselves. As the advertisement below indicates, there were at least seven other Ingento paper cutters by 1919,

Acro-Flash Miniature Bakelite Camera by Herold MFG Co., 1950s

Herold MFG Co. / Utility MFG / Spartus Corp, 711-715 W. Lake St. and 2110 W. Walnut St., Chicago, IL

The Acro-Flash is one of more than a dozen bakelite minicams in the museum collection, all produced by the same manufacturer. Jack Galter’s Spartus Corp. famously operated under about 50 other names between 1939 and 1960. In this case, we can date the Acro-Flash to the early 1950s, when Spartus sales manager Harold Rubin was handed the reins of the company and briefly rechristened it Herold Products Co.

Besta Miniature Bakelite Camera by Monarch MFG Co., 1940s

Monarch MFG Co. / Utility MFG Co. / Spartus Corp., 711-15 W. Lake St., Chicago, IL

The “Besta” is merely one of dozens of brand names slapped on the lens plates of this 1940s bakelite minicam mold. Known as the “Chicago Cluster,” the cameras patented and mass-produced by Jack Galter at his 711 W. Lake Street factory were famously marketed under numerous brand AND manufacturer names. You can get the complete story on Galter and the tangled Spartus Corp.

Candex Miniature Bakelite Camera by General Products Co., c. 1940

General Products Co. / Utility MFG Co. / Spartus Corp., 711-15 W. Lake St., Chicago, IL

Here is yet another of the many bakelite minicams produced out of the same Lake Street factory in the 1940s. These cheap-o “candid” cameras were marketed under literally dozens of different brand names AND manufacturer names, with no rhyme or reason as to which name would appear on which model type. The motivations behind this strategy are quite interesting,

Champion Miniature Bakelite Camera by The Camera Man, c. 1946

The Camera Man / Lee Industries / Spartus Corp., 711-15 W. Lake St., Chicago, IL

The Made-In-Chicago Museum has collected, so far, 17 bakelite minicams, all produced by the same Chicago manufacturer in the 1940s, but sold under roughly forty-two gazillion different brand AND manufacturer names. You can read the entire, quite fascinating story of Jack Galter and his budget goods empire on our main Spartus Camera Corp.