Chicago Industrial History
Chicago Industrial History

Stewart-Warner Corp., est. 1905

Museum Artifact: Cadet Bicycle Speedometer and Stewart-Warner Television + Stand, 1950s

Made By: Stewart-Warner Corp., 1826 W. Diversey Pkwy, Chicago, IL

“The ‘Cadet’ Bike Speedometer is not a toy! It’s a precision instrument, just like the one on your Dad’s car! It’s made by famous Stewart-Warner, the same company that has made millions of speedometers for cars, trucks, buses and motorcycles.” —Stewart-Warner advertisement,

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

Museum Artifact: Automatic Fire Extinguisher, c. 1920s

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

“Fire Insurance is always an unsatisfactory recompense for fire loss. Fire prevention is better. We manufacture everything for fire prevention and fire fighting.” –Geo. W. Diener MFG Co. advertisement, 1921

While only one of their names went on the banner,

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,

Airguide Instrument Co., est. 1930

Museum Artifact: Airguide “Highlander” Wall Barometer and No. 36 Field Glasses, c. 1948

Made by: Airguide Instrument Co. / Fee & Stemwedel, Inc, 2210 W. Wabansia Ave.

“Into every Airguide instrument go the finest of materials, the painstaking care of skillful workers, and the thorough inspection of an exacting laboratory. No instrument leaves the factory until it has proved its dependability under conditions more severe than those actually encountered throughout the year.

Foley & Co., est. 1888

Museum Artifact: Foley Banner Salve, c. 1900s

Made By: Foley & Co., 319-333 W. Ohio St., Chicago, IL

John Burton Foley was one the many opportunistic men of the Gilded Age to find his fortune in proprietary medicines; aka, patent drugs—the “cure-alls” that required no scientific substantiation to sell to the public. The Made In Chicago Museum has tracked several similar quackery kingpins from this same era,

Associated Silver Co., est. 1904

Museum Artifact: Yourex “Silver Saver” Silverware Protector, c. 1920s

Made By: Associated Silver Company, 4450 N. Ravenswood Ave., Chicago, IL

“Ladies, did you ever get your nice silverware out to use for company and find it was badly tarnished, and that you had to rub and rub and rub to get it to look right? There is another way! We have just received a shipment of the marvelous Yourex Silver Saver.

Bally MFG Company, est. 1932

Museum Artifact: Bally Mechanical Slot Machine Reel, c. 1930s

Made By: Bally MFG Co., 2640 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago, IL

Bally is one of the most recognizable and yet seemingly untethered brand names in America. It’s been associated—depending on your age and demographic—with arcade video games, casinos, rollercoaster theme parks, fitness club chains, and, starting in 2021, a stable of regional TV sports networks.

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. 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.