L. H. Thomas Co., est. 1863

Museum Artifact: Thomas Black Ink Paper Bottle and Price List, 1890s

Made By: L. H. Thomas Co., 7059 N. Clark Street and 921 Fulton Street, Chicago, IL

“In the considerable number of fountain pen inks on the market, none are more strongly intrenched among the trade’s ‘best sellers’ than the packages which bear the Black Cat trade mark of the L.

Sanford Ink Company, est. 1857

Museum Artifact: Sanford’s Ink Eraser by Sanford MFG Co., c. 1910s

Made By: Sanford MFG Co. / Sanford Ink Company, 846-854 W. Congress Street, Chicago, IL

“Have you handled Sanford’s ink eraser yet? Every office needs it and every stationer should carry it in stock. It does the work of erasing ink from paper and stains from cloth perfectly. It is put up in a handsome round corner package and is made by the Sanford Manufacturing Company,

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,

Automatic Pencil Sharpener Co., est. 1905

Museum Artifacts: (1) “U.S. Automatic” Pencil Sharpener, 1908; (1) “Giant,” (1) ‘Gem,” (2) “Chicago” (1920s), and (4) “Dexter” sharpeners, 1930s

Made By: Automatic Pencil Sharpener Co. / Spengler-Loomis MFG Co., 58 E. Washington St., Chicago, IL . Factory: 2415 Kishwaukee Street, Rockford, IL.

For many of us, the sight of an old desk-mounted, mechanical pencil sharpener brings back some sensory-charged childhood memories—the thrilling turn of the crank,

Oliver Typewriter Company, est. 1896

Museum Artifact: Oliver Typewriter No. 9, model year: 1917

Made By: Oliver Typewriter Co., 159 N. Dearborn St., Chicago, IL / Factory: Woodstock, IL

“Simplicity, durability, speed, manifolding power, and visible writing are conceded to be the five great essentials in a typewriting machine. We present to the public THE OLIVER as the most striking embodiment of these features, and the most radical departure from other methods of construction.”

Addressograph Company, est. 1892

Museum Artifact: Addressograph Print Ribbon Tins, 1920s

Made by: The Addressograph Company, 915 W. Van Buren St., Chicago, IL

While the terrific 1920s ornamentation suggests something rare and precious, these small ribbon tins were more like the printer ink cartridges of their day; stacked in office storage rooms to keep a business’s addressograph machine up and running. What’s an addressograph, you ask? Why,

Stenographic Machines, Inc., est. 1938

Museum Artifact: Stenograph Reporter Model, c. 1947

Made By: Stenographic Machines, Inc., 80 E. Jackson Blvd.

“The Stenograph was the best machine ever made. It would work with or without oil. Every bearing was like a jewel.” —Robert T. Wright (1906-2000)

Now I will admit from the outset, Robert Wright’s opinion of the Stenograph might not be entirely unbiased,

Kellogg Switchboard & Supply Co., est. 1897

Museum Artifact: Kellogg Redbar 1000 Series Masterphone, 1952

Made By: Kellogg Switchboard & Supply Co., 6650 S. Cicero Ave., Chicago, IL

Widely promoted during the Kellogg Switchboard & Supply Company’s 50th anniversary in 1947, the 1000 Series “Redbar” Masterphone—like the one in our collection—is a bit of a postwar icon. It might not have the rich oak exterior of an early box phone or the brass shimmer of an old candlestick model,

Replogle Globes, Inc., est. 1930

Museum Artifact: Replogle 12″ Relief Globe, 1964

Made By: Replogle Globes, Inc., 1901 N. Narragansett Avenue, Chicago, IL

Replogle, appropriately enough, is one of Chicago’s best-traveled brand names. If you look for the trademark on any random spinning globe you encounter (it’s usually stamped a little west of the Galapagos Islands), you’ll quickly get a sense of how this former mom-and-pop enterprise grew larger than any “to-scale model”

Triner Scale & MFG Co., est. 1903

Museum Artifact: Triner Precision Postal Scale, 1910

Made By: Triner Scale & MFG Co., 2714 W. 21st St., Chicago, IL

It’s a rare treat that an artifact from the Made In Chicago Museum can actually introduce itself in its own words, but such is the case with our Triner “Precision” 4LB postal scale. When this design was first patented and sent to market in 1906,

Swanberg MFG Co., est. 1922

Museum Artifact: Swanberg Mechanical Pencil, c. 1923

Made By: Swanberg MFG Co., 1516 W. Foster Ave., Chicago, IL

Once seemingly destined to take its place as mankind’s preferred writing stick, the mechanical pencil only ended up writing itself into a corner. No refinement, no reimagining from one generation to the next, could ever quite transition these utensils from the drafting room to the classroom;

F.B. Redington Co., est. 1897

Museum Artifacts: A pair of Redington Counting Machines, c. 1920s and 1930s

Made By: F.B. Redington Co., 112 S. Sangamon St., Chicago, IL

“Lazy Workmen Weeded Out,” read the tagline of a 1919 advertisement for the Redington Counting Machine—a device that’s still used in factories (in a digital format) nearly 100 years later.

“Find out the lazy workman operating your machines by checking your production.

A. B. Dick Company, est. 1884

Museum Artifact: Edison Rotary Mimeograph No. 75, c. 1905

Made by: A.B. Dick Company, 163 / 738 W Jackson Blvd., Chicago, IL

Thomas Edison’s reputation has taken a few stiff punches to the gut in recent years, as the once canonized “Wizard of Menlo Park” has slowly given way to a somewhat less admirable character—one skilled at the arts of patent poaching and monopoly-building at the occasional expense of scientific fellowship.