Green Duck Company, est. 1906

Museum Artifact: Franklin D. Roosevelt Pinback Campaign Button, 1936

Made By: The Green Duck Company, 1725 W. North Ave., Chicago, IL

“We were as happy to be of service to the GOP as to the Democrats, and vice versa. Where politics is concerned, ‘I’m For Me’ and Green Duck is for Green Duck. That’s the way it’s got to be.” —Green Duck Company vice president Earl Butler,

Hump Hair Pin MFG Co., est. 1903

Museum Artifact: Hump Hair Pins Set No. 6, 1920s

Made By: Hump Hair Pin MFG Co. / Gaylord Products Co., 1936 S. Prairie Ave., Chicago, IL

“Ingenuity is not always confined to skyscrapers and bridges. The inventor often achieves fame through smaller means. The Hump hairpin is a new invention ingenious enough to secure a niche in the woman’s hall of fame for the man who devised it.” —Hump Hair Pin advertisement,

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.

Valmor Products Co., est. 1926

Museum Artifact: Lucky Brown Hair Pressing Oil, 1938

Made By: Valmor Products Co. / Famous Products Co., 2241 S. Indiana Ave., Chicago, IL

Whether you enjoy debating the ethics of cultural appropriation, the definition of true art, or the line between female empowerment and objectification, the story of the Valmor Products Company basically covers all the bases—like a pulp-novel catalog of 20th century American contradictions.

Florsheim Shoe Company, est. 1892

Museum Artifact: Florsheim Ladies Shoes, c. 1940s

Made By: Florsheim Shoe Company, 3963 W. Belmont Ave. and 130 S. Canal Street , Chicago, IL

“I have always attributed our success to three essentials: a good shoe, an efficient organization, and advertising—always keeping in mind that our shoe measured up to everything that we said in our advertising.” —Milton S. Florsheim,

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,

Kling Bros. & Co., est. 1897

Museum Artifact: Tailor’s Measuring Tape, c. 1930s

Made By: Kling Bros. & Co. Inc., 2300 W. Wabansia Ave, Chicago, IL

“Garments that combine character and charm with lines that are clean cut, comfortable, and correct. . . . Are you one of the ten thousand dealers who know the immeasurable satisfaction to be found in KLING-MADE clothing specialties?”—1920 ad for Kling Bros.

Chicago Printed String Company, est. 1915

Museum Artifact: Ribbonette Ribbon Spool Dispenser, c. 1940s

Made By: Chicago Printed String Co., 2300 W. Logan Blvd, Chicago, IL

“In the decorative wrapping and ribbon business, you can’t find any larger than Chicago Printed String.” —Chicago Tribune, August 5, 1960

While the name would certainly suggest a homegrown original, the Chicago Printed String Company could actually trace its beginnings about 4,500 miles to the east,

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.

Maybelline Company, est. 1915

Museum Artifact: Maybelline Mascara, c. 1940s

Made By: Maybelline Co. Distr., 5900 N. Ridge Ave., Chicago, IL

When the company now known as Maybelline New York marked its 100th anniversary in 2015, the celebration was—much like that patently unnecessary name change—almost suspiciously disconnected from the real history of a business born, built, and largely defined in Chicago.

A promotional blitz that could have served as the long overdue “coming out”

Princess Pat, Ltd., est. 1907

Museum Artifact: Princess Pat Duo-Tone Rouge, c. 1931

Made By: Princess Pat, Ltd., 2709 South Wells Street, Chicago, IL

“She is exquisite, this woman of today. She is frank—too vivid and intense for pretense. She revels in luxury . . . Color, line, softness, she perceives and strives for. She does not fear her mirror.” —excerpt from Princess Pat sales booklet,

T. C. Gleason MFG Co., est. 1905

Museum Artifact: Knights of Columbus Ceremonial Sword, c. 1930s

Made By: T. C. Gleason MFG Co., 325 W. Madison St., Chicago, IL

A Knights of Columbus sword, as you might presume, is made for symbolic, decorative use—not for combat. That being said, the sword in our collection, likely dating from the 1930s, is just sharp enough—and rusty enough—to at least pose a minor threat of tetanus.

Russell Electric Co., est. 1914

Museum Artifact: No. 45 “Hold Heet” Marcel Waver Curling Iron, c. 1920

Made By: Russell Electric Company, 340 W. Huron Street, Chicago, IL

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

Scholl MFG Co., est. 1906

Museum Artifact: Scholl’s Arch Fitter, 1910

Made By: The Scholl MFG Co. / Dr. Scholl’s, 213 W. Schiller St., Chicago, IL

The rather intimidating metal clamping device pictured above was manufactured around 1910, and represents one of the earliest inventions of a young Chicago podiatrist turned entrepreneur named William Mathias Scholl.

Now wait a minute . . . Does this mean that the ubiquitous pharmacy icon “Dr.

Helene Curtis Industries, est. 1927

Museum Artifact: Helene Curtis “Duchess Machineless Oil Wave,” c. 1940s

Made By: Helene Curtis Industries, div. of National Mineral Company, 505 N. Sacramento Blvd. / 4401 W. North Ave., Chicago, IL

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

D.B. Fisk & Co., est. 1853

Museum Artifact: Woman’s Hat, aka Fiskhat, c. 1920s

Made By: D.B. Fisk & Co., 225 N. Wabash Ave., Chicago, IL

The slow death of the millinery trade in America is usually attributed to a simple change in fashion trends—something about the 1960s cultural revolution vs. the puritan formalism of the hat. In truth, though, women’s headwear didn’t just fall out of favor in the late 20th century;