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,

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,

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”

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;

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.

Denoyer-Geppert Company, est. 1916

Museum Artifact: Denoyer-Geppert Cartocraft Globe, 1938

Made By: Denoyer-Geppert Company, 5235 N. Ravenswood Ave., Chicago, IL

“You now have one of the best globes made,” L.P. Denoyer wrote in the preface to his 1931 guide book, A Teacher’s Manual for Cartocraft Globes, “but we are not satisfied with simply having made the sale, for we want you to get the greatest possible value from your purchase.”

Well,

Wilson Jones Co., est. 1893

Museum Artifact: Marvel 60 Hole Punch, c. 1940s

Made By: Wilson Jones Company, 3300 W. Franklin Blvd., Chicago, IL

Long before any Marvel superhero ever punched a villain, the mighty Marvel Hole Punch was already dispensing its own brand of justice on unsuspecting sheets of binder paper. This lever-operated “paper perforator” was originally designed by Alexander and Chesley Dom of the Samuel C.

U.S. Automatic Pencil Sharpener by APSCO, c. 1911

Automatic Pencil Sharpener Co., 35 Randolph Street., Chicago, IL

While it was initially distributed out of New York City, the U.S. Automatic Pencil Sharpener was actually designed and patented by a Chicago inventor named Essington N. Gilfillan (first patent date, 1906). And after a few short years, it would return home, becoming the first marquee product of the Chicago-based Automatic Pencil Sharpener Company (aka APSCO) under the banner of the Spengler-Loomis Co.

Ace Fastener Corp., est. 1930

Museum Artifact: Ace Pilot Stapler 404, c. 1950s

Made by: Ace Fastener Corp., 3415 N. Ashland Ave., Chicago, IL

Trying to pinpoint the age of an Ace Pilot stapler—much like trying to figure out the complicated history of the Ace Fastener Company itself—is a bit of an exercise in futility. This stylishly utilitarian 404 model of the Pilot was based on a patent that Ace acquired way back in 1938,

W. M. Welch Scientific Company, est. 1906

Museum Artifact: Bakelite Galvanometer, 1960s

Made By: W. M. Welch Scientific Co., 1515 N. Sedgwick St., Chicago, IL

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

Baby Calculator Sales Co., est. 1924

Museum Artifact: Baby Calculator, c. 1928

Made By: Baby Calculator Sales Co. / Calculator Machine Company, 318 N. Pine Street, Chicago, IL

Just about everybody knows about “The Day the Music Died”—the plane crash on February 3, 1959, that killed rock n’ roll legends Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper. But did you know there was a much deadlier airline crash in the U.S.

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.