Adams & Westlake Company, est. 1857

Museum Artifact: Adlake Semaphore 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.

Geo. W. Diener MFG Co., est. 1899

Museum Artifact: Automatic Fire Extinguisher, 1920s

Made By: Geo. W. Diener MFG Co., 400-420 N. Monticello Ave., Chicago, IL

Sometimes a lamp is just a lamp. Other times, it’s an early 1920s soda-acid fire extinguisher—which then became a lamp. I suppose it would be ironic if our extinguisher lamp started an electrical fire, and then—having been gutted of its old chemical contents—was completely useless in helping the situation.

Hibbard, Spencer, Bartlett & Co., est. 1855

Museum Artifact: OVB No. 2 Kerosene Lantern, c. 1920s

Made By: Hibbard Spencer Bartlett & Co., 211 E. North Water Street

“Hardware seems to those who sell it to be more human than any other kind of business.” That’s how journalist Fred C. Kelly sized up the stock and trade of Hibbard, Spencer & Bartlett in 1930, on the occasion of the wholesale company’s 75th anniversary.

Geo. B. Carpenter Co., est. 1840

Museum Artifact: Nautical Lantern, 1910s

Made By: Geo. B. Carpenter Company, 440 N. Wells St.

“Navigation lamp” or “nautical lantern” would be the more romantic terms, but according to the official 1917 catalog of George B. Carpenter & Co., our brass relic here was actually marketed, generically, as a “motor boat light,” with a more specific designation as the No. 5 Combination Light.

Western Fluorescent Light Co., est. 1950

Museum Artifacts: Chelsea Hotel “Fire Escape” Lighted Sign and Lighted “Exit” Sign, c. 1950s

Made By: Western Fluorescent Light Co., 3242-4 W. Roosevelt Rd., Chicago, IL

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

Big Beam and the U-C Lite MFG Co., est. 1938

Museum Artifact: Big Beam No. 164 Sealed Beam Beacon Lamp, 1950s

Made By: U-C Lite MFG Co., 1050 W. Hubbard St., Chicago, IL

First of all, don’t call it a flashlight. This life-saving, mid-century necessity is a “hand lamp” (or “hand lantern”), and very similar models are still being manufactured today—by the original company—at a plant in suburban Crystal Lake, Illinois. The business is now known as Big Beam Emergency Systems,

Sterling Electric Heater by Chicago Electric MFG Co., c. 1940s

Chicago Electric MFG, Co., 6333 W. 65th Street., Chicago, IL

This impressive looking mid-century coil space heater is one of two items in our collection made by the Chicago Electric Manufacturing Company. You can read the full epic tale of Chicago Electric and its most famous president, Errett Lobban Cord, on our page for the heat lamp’s summertime sister, the Sterling Desk Fan.

Read the Full Company History of the Chicago Electric MFG Co.