F.W. Planert & Sons, est. 1898

Museum Artifact: Planert Ice Skate Sharpening Jig, 1910s

Made By: F.W. Planert & Sons, Inc., 939 N. Robey Street (aka N Damen Ave.), Chicago, IL

Patented in 1910, this elegantly rustalgic ice skate clamping device, or “jig,” was used to keep a skate stabilized while its blade was hand sharpened—cuz that’s what the kiddos had to do back in the day. The manufacturer,

Ideal School Supply Co., est. 1913

Museum Artifact: Box of Addition Flash Cards, c. 1940s

Made By: Ideal School Supply Company, 8316 S. Birkhoff Ave., Chicago, IL

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

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.

Sidney A. Tarrson Co., est. 1948

Museum Artifact: “Skill-Flight” Electronic Board Game, c. 1960s

Made By: Sidney A. Tarrson Compant, aka Tarco Toys, 518 S. Racine Ave., Chicago, IL

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

Chicago Pennant Company, est. 1910

Museum Artifact: Wooster College Felt Pennant, c. 1940s

Made By: Chicago Pennant Co., aka ChiPenCo, 6542 S. Cottage Grove Ave., Chicago, IL

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

Merrill Publishing Co., est. 1936

Museum Artifact: Sonja Henie Paper Dolls Cut-Out Book, 1939

Made By: Merrill Publishing Company, 14 N. Peoria St., Chicago, IL

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

Arrco Playing Card Co., est. 1927

Museum Artifact: Century of Progress Playing Cards, 1933

Made By: Arrco / Arrow Playing Card Co., 734-54 Mather Street (W Lexington St.), Chicago, IL

A promotional tie-in with Chicago’s “Century of Progress” World’s Fair in 1933-34 also marked a major point of progress for the city’s Arrow Playing Card Co., as it introduced its new identity as ARRCO—a name that would soon be familiar to amateur magicians,

Thos. E. Wilson & Co. / Wilson Sporting Goods, est. 1913

Museum Artifact: Wilson Success Mid-Iron Golf Club, c. 1920s

Made By: Thos. E. Wilson & Co. / Wilson Sporting Goods, 2037 N. Campbell Ave., Chicago, IL

Today, a typical set of Wilson golf clubs includes “woods” made of titanium and “irons” machined from flexible steel alloys. But once upon a time, these crooked fairway sticks were exactly what they purported to be—utilizing hickory for the shafts,

Chess Producing Corp., est. 1947

Museum Artifact: Chicago Cubs “Pennant Fever” 7-inch Record, 1969

Made By: Chess Producing Corp., 320 E. 21st Street, Chicago, IL

Long before the Chicago Bears awkwardly rapped their way to a certified gold record with “The Super Bowl Shuffle,” the precedent for a singing sports team had already been set—albeit with substantially less commercial and cultural impact—by the baby bears over at Clark and Addison.

Card Shuffler by Nestor Johnson MFG Co., 1951

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

Skillfully shuffling a deck of cards, much like stoically smoking a pack of cigarettes, was a universal method of establishing one’s coolness in 1950s America. The risks of the manual shuffle, however—much like the cigarette smoking—were numerous and potentially deadly. And I’m not just talking about the carpal tunnel and paper cuts. If an amateur card shark failed to evenly redistribute his hearts and clubs,

Lincoln Logs Company, est. 1916

Museum Artifact: Original Lincoln Logs Set 1C, c. 1958

Made By: Lincoln Logs, 1750 N. Lawndale Ave., Chicago, IL

“When I completed the design for ‘Lincoln Logs’ toy construction blocks, their success encouraged me, and making wooden objects became my temporary source of income. Marshsall Field’s bought all I could make.” –John Lloyd Wright, from his memoir My Father, Frank Lloyd Wright,

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,

Brunswick-Balke-Collender Co., est. 1848

Museum Artifact: Brunswick Black Scoring Crayons, c. 1950s

Made By: The Brunswick-Balke-Collender Co., 623-633 S. Wabash Ave, 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,

Metal Moss MFG Co., est. 1937

Museum Artifact: Two-Bat Table Tennis Set, 1954

Made By: Metal Moss MFG Co., 2215 S Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL [South Loop}

While ping pong is perhaps most simply described as a miniaturized, parlor room version of tennis, I prefer to look at tennis as an inefficiently over-sized adaptation of ping pong. Beyond being the greatest test of hand-eye coordination (and cunning) yet devised by mankind,

Cadaco Inc., est. 1935

Museum Artifact: All-Star Baseball Board Game, 1968

Made By: Cadaco Inc., 310 W. Polk St., Chicago, IL

Half a century before “fantasy baseball” gave every Joe Sixpack the illusion of running his own Major League ballclub, the seeds of that multi-million dollar industry were planted inside colorful cardboard boxes like this one. “All-Star Baseball,” which first appeared in 1941, actually predated similar stats-based games like “American Professional Baseball Association” (1951) and the famous “Strat-O-Matic” (1961).

Radio Flyer, est. 1917

Museum Artifact: Miniature Radio Flyer Wagon from 1933 World’s Fair

Made By: Radio Steel and MFG Co., 6041 W. Grand Ave., Chicago, IL

In retrospect, it looks like one of the savviest and most successful promotional stunts of its era. But when Antonio Pasin—inventor of the Radio Flyer—decided to invest $30,000 into a coaster wagon exhibit for the 1933 World’s Fair, he considered it the riskiest make-or-break moment of his life.