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,

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 Legos.

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.

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,

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.

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 .

Chicago Roller Skate Co., est. 1905

Museum Artifact: Metal Roller Skates, c. 1920s

Made By: Chicago Roller Skate Company, 4458 W. Lake St., Chicago, IL

“They used to call him ‘Slow-Poke’ when he had those old-fashioned, slow, hard-rolling skates. But, Oh Boy! On ‘Chicagos’ he whizzes to the lead like a flash. ‘Chicagos,’ the Choice of Champions, have established more World’s Records than all others, yet cost less in the long run.

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,

American Flyer MFG Co., est. 1907

Museum Artifact: Cast Iron Locomotive No. 3195, c. 1930

Made by: American Flyer MFG Co., 2229 S. Halsted St., Chicago, IL

There’s something inherently sad about a solitary steam engine—even a toy one. With no tender, it has no imaginary fuel, and with no boxcars, it serves no imaginary purpose. Our particular locomotive doesn’t even have a lonesome whistle to blow. Still, if we’re talking about the American Flyer Manufacturing Company at the dawning of the Great Depression,

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.

Electric Corp. of America, est. 1942

Museum Artifact: Hand Painted Baseball Figurine, 1940s

Made By: Electric Corp. of America / ECA Toys, Inc. / ECA MFG Co., 2518 W. Montrose Ave., Chicago, IL

Dating from the early 1940s, our sleepy ceramic Little Leaguer here was produced a few years after the first Hummel figurines hit the U.S. market, making him a sort of hyper-Americanized, wartime knockoff of those popular German collectibles.

Bambino Products Co., est. 1933

Museum Artifact: Bambino World’s Fair Baseball Board Game, 1933

Made By: The Bambino Products Co., 103-105 S. Jefferson St., Chicago, IL

George Herman “Babe” Ruth—the Great Bambino—was arguably the most famous person in the United States in 1933. Even in the twilight of his baseball career, at age 38, he was literally and figuratively a larger-than-life character; a celebrity as much as a sportsman.

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.