Chicago Flexible Shaft Co., est. 1893

Museum Artifacts: Chicago Clipper (c. 1902), Stewart Clipper (c. 1910), Stewart Carriage Heater (c. 1908), and Rain King Sprinkler (c. 1920)

Made By: Chicago Flexible Shaft Co., LaSalle Ave. and Ontario St., Chicago, IL

Don’t be fooled by the rusty and rustic-looking artifacts pictured above. When the Chicago Flexible Shaft Company introduced its line of hand-cranked horse clippers and sheep shearers at the end of the 19th century,

American Bird Products, Inc., est. 1926

Museum Artifact: American 3 Vees Bird Nesting, c. 1940s

Made by: American Bird Products, Inc., 2610 W. 25th Place, Chicago, IL

Starting with the pet canary craze of the ‘20s and ‘30s up through the post-war budgie boom, Chicago’s American Bird Products, Inc. (aka the American Bird Food MFG Co. and American Bird Corp.) established a nice niche for itself—evolving from a mere seed supplier into something more like a lifestyle brand for the feathered set.

VAL-A Company, est. 1932

Museum Artifact: VAL-A Egg Scale, c. 1930s

Made By: VAL-A Company, 700 W. Root St., Chicago, IL

Weighing a hundred eggs one-by-one on a galvanized metal doohickey might seem crazily inefficient, if not entirely unnecessary. But for any humble farmer / chicken coop owner of the early to mid 20th century, egg scales like this one were must-have tools of the trade. Today, they can pass for intriguing modern art pieces.

Rival Packing Co., est. 1923

Museum Artifact: Rival Dog Food Coin Banks, 1950s

Made By: Rival Packing Co., 4500 S. Tripp Ave., Chicago, IL

Gimme Ri-val Dog Food, Arf Arf, Arf Arf!
Gimme Ri-val Dog Food, Woof Woof, Woof Woof!
Your Dog’s Eyes Will Shine—Coat Look Fine
On Nourishing Ri-val Dog Food,

William Cooper & Nephews, Inc., est. 1852

Museum Artifact: Pulvex Products – Flea & Lice Powder, Analgesic Tablets, and Kitty & Cat Flea Powder, 1930-1960

Made By: William Cooper & Nephews Inc., 1909 N. Clifton Ave., Chicago, IL

You might not guess it by looking at the cutesy packaging, but the 1961 bottle of Pulvex “Kitty & Cat Flea Powder” pictured above represents an important crossroads in the history of pet-care pesticides.