I tend to be a bit of a pack rat…not a hoarder per se, but rather a person who doesn’t easily part with weird or interesting items that some would deem ‘collectibles’. Of course, others might be more inclined to rename some of my collectibles as ‘junk’.
As the saying goes, “One Person's Junk Is another Person's Treasure!” So here are a few miscellaneous ‘collectibles’ that I ‘discovered’ the other day while rooting through drawers in our storeroom…
I have badges! Lots of badges… In one of my former lives, I was involved in Loss Prevention, (security and safety), at long time retail icon, Montgomery Ward. I was based at the company’s headquarters in Chicago and my last 3 months were spent helping close down the company as it went out of business after 129 years.
One day I found a pile of old security badges in the trash and the collector in me was inclined to save them. I probably picked up over 100 old badges. These are 2 of the fancier ones. The first one, from Virginia, might have been for store use but was more likely carried by a field investigator or security supervisor. (I have no idea what the ‘P-2’ on the badge stood for)
That second smaller badge is even more shiny and ornate. It is smaller but this one has its own leather badge case. It was probably carried by the Mobile store security manager. That store had closed before I joined the company in 1987.
This is yet another ‘collectible’. I’m sure this watch from 1993 has almost no value as it doesn’t work! Still, with the Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer watch face, I couldn’t let it go into the trash. Not much value though… There is a working model of this same watch on eBay and they are only asking $19.95.
Rudolph was created in 1939 by Robert L. May. He was on assignment for Montgomery Ward. The company had been buying and giving away coloring books for Christmas every year and management decided that creating their own book would save money. May’s daughter liked reindeer and, as a child, he had been treated as an outcast like Rudolph. “Rollo” and “Reginald” were other names that May considered. The Montgomery Ward artist who drew Rudolph changed him from a reindeer to a cute white-tail deer in an effort to deflect criticism about the red nose. (A red nose was considered a sign of alcoholism)
In its first year of publication, Montgomery Ward distributed 2,400,000 copies of Rudolph’s story. The rest, as the saying goes, ‘is history’!
Moving from fun to mundane… This little object is an advertising hand-out from the Parisian Novelty Company. The name of the company is a little misleading as it was and is based in Chicago Illinois. Parisian Novelty Company was founded in 1898. For more than 100 years, it was the leading manufacturer of button parts, button making machinery and other equipment for companies serving the promotional products industry. In 2008, the button division of the company was acquired by the Matchless Group, which had been founded in Chicago even a bit earlier…in 1885.
Note the address on the object, 3510 South Western Avenue, Chicago 9, Illinois. It took me a little to figure out that the ‘9’, referred to the city of Chicago’s Ninth Ward…
In case you were wondering what this item is, it’s a 24” tape measure. Despite the company’s then current focus on plastic buttons, (promotional, campaign, souvenir, etc.), the measuring tape’s case is metal. The spring is still working and there is a stop lever on the side to hold the cloth measuring tape at whatever length is being measured. I have no idea when this object was produced but I’d guess that Parisian Matchless could tell me if I asked…
Sticking with Chicago for one more ‘collectible’, this is a souvenir folder from “A Century of Progress International Exposition, aka, The Chicago World’s Fair. This iteration of the World’s Fair was held from 1933 to 1934 in the midst of the Great Depression. It was a celebration of the city’s centennial and its theme was technological innovation. Fair visitors saw the latest developments in science and industry, including autos, rail travel, architecture and even cigarette-smoking robots.
Despite the Great Depression, by the time the Fair closed, a total of 48,469,227 visitors had viewed the exhibits…and picked up their souvenirs.
So what was inside this folder?
What did you expect!? When I first picked this item up, I was a bit stunned and not a little disappointed when I discovered that it was full of various sizes and types of sewing needles… At least it is colorful!
This ‘needle kit’ was just one of the vast number of Century of Progress souvenirs that visitors could buy…or that were sometimes given out. Other examples include: picture books; postcards; photo collections; bottle jacks and openers; stamps; mini steins; mugs; art deco bracelets; keys to the city; bookmarks; ashtrays; brass bowls; train sets; pocket watch fobs; FDR brass tokens/coins; playing cards; cigarette cases; spoons; Belgian tapestry; umbrellas and; cast iron pencil holders. That is just to name a few examples!
Interested? Just cruise the exhaustive listing of souvenir items listed on eBay!
I did find a couple of my needle folders for sale and mine won’t help me much with the cost of retirement… It was listed for $6.99 plus $1.75 for shipping! But, I did have many more needles in my folder!
If you’d like to learn more about Chicago’s Century of Progress/World’s Fair, just go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Century_of_Progress.
This picture shows one of the busy locks in Sault Ste. Marie Michigan. I have no idea where I obtained this print either…but I found a nearly identical picture on the internet while researching ‘whaleback’ ships. While this photo identified the lock as the Weitzel Lock, the identical photo, which is in color, identifies it as the Poe Lock. The Weitzel Lock was built in 1881 and the larger Poe Lock was built in 1896. That large building is the administration building and it was completed in 1897…so I’m guessing that this probably is the Poe Lock. This was a busy scene… As early as 1893, over 12,000 ships passed through the Locks!
The whaleback design vessels were initially intended as easy-to-tow barges and they evolved into powered freighters in their own right. They were usually used for carrying grain or ore. When fully loaded, the ship looked like a whale’s back. A total of 44 of these vessels were built between 1887 and 1898.
The whaleback Charles W. Wetmore, built in 1891, was the first Great Lakes Vessel to leave the lakes. She shot the St. Lawrence River’s rapids in doing so! She traveled on to Liverpool England, then subsequently returned to New York and from there steamed around Cape Horn to Everett Washington.
· A shipyard was built in Everett Washington with the intention of building additional whaleback ships. Only one was ever built. The City of Everett was completed in 1894 and it sailed for 29 years, becoming the first American steamship to navigate the Suez Canal and the first American steamship to circumnavigate the globe!
· The only remaining whaleback designed ship is the SS Meteor (formerly the Frank Rockefeller) This 380 foot long ship was built in 1896 and it was finally retired in 1969. It is now a museum ship in Superior Wisconsin.
These 2 photos are the front and back covers of a 22 page 1940 Ironrite advertising booklet. Ironrite was a well-known household appliance name brand especially during the 1940s and 1950s. Originally based in Detroit Michigan, the business was established in 1911 as a machine shop. It was originally named the Sperlich and Uhlig Company, (the founder’s names), but it was changed to the Ironrite Ironer Company in 1927. The first Ironrite ironers were actually built in 1921 and Detroit’s J.L. Hudson Department Store was the product’s first retail dealer.
The Ironrite Ironer was later manufactured in Mount Clemens Michigan from the mid-1940s until 1961 when the plant was closed down as demand waned. At its peak, the company was producing as many as 400 units per day and many home laundry rooms were equipped with one of these ironing machines! The popularity of permanent press clothing was partly responsible for the end of this product’s popularity.
The automatic ironer, also called a mangle, was an electric appliance that used a roller and a cast-iron shoe to press clothing. Company brochures promised homemakers that an Ironrite ironer could take them away from the "nerve-racking method of lifting, pushing and pulling a heavy, hot hand iron back and forth hundreds of times to complete an ironing." A popular home appliance in the era before permanent-press clothing, the Ironrite could be found in many home laundry rooms.
The theme or selling point for these ‘automatic ironers’ was that they eliminated housewives from their ‘hardest home drudgery, hand ironing! These machines, also called a mangle, used a roller and a cast-iron shoe to press clothing. As you can see from the picture on the first page shown above, now housewives could “iron sitting down”…”in a comfortable natural position”! Several different models were available over the years and even the chair, (called a ‘health chair’ by Ironrite), was available to the company’s customers.
As you can see in the second picture above, you could see the product demonstrated at your favorite store and they even offered home demonstrations. My favorite offer though is that if you took your ironing to an Ironrite Dealer, they would iron it for free as part of their demonstration of the ironer!
An Ironrite ‘Health Chair’ constructed with steel and lacquered plywood is part of the collection of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City!
Ironrite Ironers and accessories have been slow to fade from the scene and many units are still in use. Many of these ironers (in working order) and related accessories are offered for sale on eBay. Manuals and books range from $9.99 and up, better ironers range from $250 to over $300 each and a ‘rare’ Model 88 Ironrite ironer in a Mahogany Cabinet is priced at $750. Check out the items for sale at eBay… Just click on https://www.bing.com/shop?q=ebay+ironrite&FORM=SHOPPA&originIGUID=0A0FDB71C00E4D359ABDD21AF260937E.
The items I’ve included in this post are certainly not big money items…but I enjoy having them and I like the history behind them. I’ll just hold onto the collection, and someday, hopefully many years from now, my son David II will have to figure out what to do with dad’s accumulation of all these dang ‘collectibles’.
Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…
Thanks for stopping by for a visit!
Stay Safe and Take Care, Big Daddy Dave