Chicago Industrial History
Chicago Industrial History

W. F. McLaughlin & Co., est. 1852

Museum Artifact: McLaughlin’s Imperial Mocha & Java Coffee Tin, c. 1900s, + 19 McLaughlin XXXX Coffee Trade Cards, 1890s

Made By: W. F. McLaughlin & Co., State Street and South Water Street., Chicago, IL

“Tastes Good—Always. You get the extra good quality in this coffee because it is imported direct and sold direct to retail dealers by W. F. McLaughlin & Co., the largest exclusive coffee roasters in the world.”

Paymaster Corp., est. 1917

Museum Artifact: Paymaster Series X-550 Check Writer Machine, 1960s

Made By: The Paymaster Corp., 1811 W. Winnemac Ave., Chicago, IL

“The only way to have the Paymaster system when you NEED it is to have one all the time—NOW!”—tagline from 1951 Paymaster sales manual

Often kept well out of sight in the backrooms of banks and the HR departments of small businesses,

Borin MFG Co., est. 1920

Museum Artifact: “End of the Trail” Native American Print & Wood Frame, 1925

Made By: Borin Manufacturing Company / Borin Art Products Co., 1325 S. Cicero Ave., Cicero, IL

When it comes to talented men of potentially questionable character, some folks say you must learn to “separate the art from the artist”—to appreciate their work on its own merits. It’s not clear if this same philosophy applies to the art dealer,

Mastercrafters Clock & Radio Co., est. 1939

Museum Artifact: “Swing Girl” Electronic Mantle Clock, c. 1950

Made By: MasterCrafters Clock & Radio Co., 216 N. Clinton St., Chicago, IL

The MastersCrafters Clock & Radio Company was a literal mom and pop shop through most of its 50 year existence—operated first by Ben Lerman and his wife Kate in the 1940s and ‘50s, then by their daughter Doris and her husband Bernard Ellman into the 1980s.

QRS Music Company, est. 1900

Museum Artifacts: QRS Player Piano “Autograph Word Roll” #340 – “Forever is a Long Long Time,” 1916

Made By: The Q-R-S Company, 412 Fine Arts Building – Factory at 4829 S. Kedzie Ave.

“Up to the advent of the Q-R-S Autograph Roll all player piano music rolls were much alike—all made the same mechanical way. . . The Q.R.S. Autograph Music Roll is hand played—it is practically a photographic record of the hand playing of an artist.

Shure Brothers, Inc., est. 1925

Museum Artifact: Shure 708A Stratoliner Crystal Microphone, 1940s

Made By: Shure Brothers, Inc., 225 West Huron Street, Chicago, IL

“We know very well that absolute perfection cannot be attained, but we will never stop striving for it.” —Sidney N. Shure, founder of Shure Brothers, Inc.

Introduced in 1940, the “Stratoliner” microphone in our museum collection finds the world famous Shure,

Kelling-Karel Co. / Kelling Nut Co., est. 1906

Museum Artifact: Squirrel Nut Cracker, 1910s

Made By: Kelling-Karel Company / Double Kay / Kelling Nut Co., 217 W. Huron St., Chicago, IL

“The ‘Squirrel’ Nut Cracker is suitable for all kinds of table nuts, and is so designed that it cracks the shell but not the kernel. It is adjustable for different sizes of nuts—pecans, hazelnuts, walnuts, etc.. Are all easily cracked with it.

Shotwell MFG Co., est. 1903

Museum Artifact: Shotwell’s Popcorn Brittle & 3-to-1 Wax Candy Wrappers, 1920s

Made By: Shotwell MFG Co., 3501 W. Potomac Ave., Chicago, IL

The Shotwell Manufacturing Company is one of Chicago’s forgotten confectionery giants; a former popcorn, candy bar, and marshmallow maker that operated from 1903 to 1952. The firm was notably opportunistic in its business practices—sometimes a tad shady even—and it wouldn’t achieve the longevity or cultural relevance of local rivals like Cracker Jack,

Curt Teich & Co., est. 1898

Museum Artifacts: 1933 Chicago World’s Fair Postcards (C.T. American Art and C.T. Colortone), published by Max Rigot Selling Company

Made By: Curt Teich & Company, 1733-1755 W. Irving Park Rd., Chicago, IL

“If one were seeking the vernacular aesthetic of a period, the postcard is where you will find it . . . It is the least elitist form of artefact.” —Tom Phillips,

Olson Rug Company, est. 1874

Museum Artifact: Olson Rug 75th Anniversary Calendar, 1949

Made By: Olson Rug Co., 2800 N. Pulaski Rd., Chicago, IL

No other manufacturing business in Chicago ever had a headquarters quite like that of the Olson Rug Company. From 1935 to 1965, the sprawling Olson factory campus at the northwest corner of Diversey Avenue and Pulaski Road—with its stunning man-made waterfalls, rock gardens, sculptures,

J. C. Deagan, Inc., est. 1897

Museum Artifact: Deagan 4-Bar Dinner Chime Bells & Mallet, 1920s

Made By: J. C. Deagan Inc., 1770 W. Berteau Ave., Chicago, IL

“When you summon your guests to the dining room with a Deagan Dinner Chime, your invitation is carried to their ears by the sweetest musical sound in the world. At once compelling, yet entrancingly beautiful, it carries with it the spirit of hospitality,

B. Heller & Co., est. 1894

Museum Artifact: $1000 Guaranteed Moth Killer, 1928

Made By: B. Heller & Co. / Chicago Insecticide Laboratory, S. Calumet Ave. and E. 40th St., Chicago, IL

“We guarantee that $1,000.00 Guaranteed Moth Killer will kill clothes moths—and carpet beetles and their eggs and larvae—when it is thoroughly sprayed upon them, and agree to forfeit $1,000.00 to anyone proving to us that it cannot do this.” —Chicago Insecticide Company,

Hump Hair Pin MFG Co., est. 1903

Museum Artifact: Hump Hair Pins Set No. 6, 1920s

Made By: Hump Hair Pin MFG Co. / Gaylord Products Co., 1936 S. Prairie Ave., Chicago, IL

“Ingenuity is not always confined to skyscrapers and bridges. The inventor often achieves fame through smaller means. The Hump hairpin is a new invention ingenious enough to secure a niche in the woman’s hall of fame for the man who devised it.” —Hump Hair Pin advertisement,

Citrus Products Co., est. 1919

Museum Artifact: Kist Beverages Soda Bottle, c. 1940s

Made By: Citrus Products Co., 11 E. Hubbard St., Chicago, IL

Most Notable Factoid: In 1933, the vice president of Citrus Products fired a gun at his own wife (and missed) after he saw her kissing the president of the company at a party.

Best known for its “Kist” brand of carbonated beverages,

Zeno MFG Co., est. 1890

Museum Artifact: Zeno Chewing Gum Coin-Op Vending Machine, 1908

Made By: Zeno MFG Co., 150-160 W. Van Buren St., Chicago, IL

It’s been more than 100 years since someone first dropped a penny into this porcelain-enameled steel vending machine, jonesing for a fresh stick of “elegant” Zeno chewing gum. By no coincidence, most awareness of the Zeno Manufacturing Company itself has long since been spat from the public consciousness and trampled over by time,

Benjamin Electric MFG Co., est. 1901

Museum Artifact: Industrial Signal Horn Siren, 1920s

Made By: Benjamin Electric MFG Co., 120-128 S. Sangamon St., Chicago, IL and Des Plaines, IL

“The clear, powerful tones of Benjamin Signals are preventing lost calls, lost time, and costly interruptions the country over. To the farthermost corners of the greatest plants they shout the call for attention, finding the wanted man wherever he may be.