Industrial antiques, fridge magnets, history...


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Lamp Manufacturer George Bohner Chicago Industrial History


George Bohner (b.1846), from Buffalo, NY (son of Alois Bohner and Adeline Brooker Bohner), came to Chicago in 1863 and went to work in a lamp store. By 1875 he founded his own light manufacturing company, one of several, manufacturing gas lighting, glass dishes, crockery…and mustache trainers. By 1914 his company concentrated on water filtration systems.

 Bohner boasted that his patented “Bohner’s Patent Library Lamp” was the first hanging extension lamp.
 George’s companies: Brown & Bohner, Bohner Manufacturing Co., Brilliant Gas Lamp Co, Chicago Lighting System and George Bohner Company.
 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

What do magnets stick to?



Will my fridge magnet stick to ...... ?

Bad news for tuba players. Magnets do not cling to brass, stainless steel, aluminum, copper or tin -- so you cannot display them on your trombone, stainless steel fridge, pop or vegetable soup cans. You can, however, display them on most other refrigerators, washers, dryers, dishwashers, steel file cabinets, cast iron bathtubs, toasters, roller skates, lockers, and other steel or iron objects.

 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Bankrupt Chicago Apple Mans Curious $75000 Loss

Revelation apple crate label from John A. Eck Company




What the Eck?  Web detective needed.

Some event in the 1925 apple marketplace resulted in a $75,000 loss to a fourteen year old Chicago produce brokerage.  Though seemingly healthy prior to 1925, the company didn't survive the mystery loss and filed for bankruptcy in 1928.  Perhaps your web detective skills will turn up information that mine did not.  Free magnet to whoever figures out what Eck's 1925 $75,000 "apple deal" was about.


They had experience

After immigrating to America from Germany in the late 1860s, apples became the Eck family business.  Henry Eck (1852-1930) became an apple grower in St. Joseph, Michigan and John A. Eck (1858-1934) brokered them in Chicago. 

A 1922 newspaper advertisement boasted the John A Eck Co fruit retailer was founded in 1871 but John would have been twelve years old then so his business probably consisted of hawking apples on a street corner.  Henry's occupation as a fruit grower in 1900 is established by census records and an 1898 incorporation filing substantiates that John then owned a piece of a newly formed Theo C. H. Wegeforth company.  It's safe to say that John Eck's adult experience in produce began in at least 1880, so when he formed his own brokerage in 1914, it was founded on at least three decades of experience for John and another couple for Henry.  

Eck Eck & Eck
The John A. Eck Company was incorporated with $100,000 in capital when the Eck, Wegforth Co. was dissolved.  (Wegforth had previously been the L.B. Smith brokerage.)  The new company had three Ecks at the helm - John, Henry and Henry's son, Henry.  The company specialized in fruit and potatoes, as well as bread, butter and eggs, but also dabbled in other categories, including cantaloupes, cucumbers and Christmas trees.  The Ecks were paid a commission by growers, mostly on the west coast, to wholesale produce to Chicago-based grocers and food processors.


Their product was in high demand

America's love affair with apples is longstanding, going back to the pilgrims planting apple trees in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.  Mangoes and bananas are #1 elsewhere in the world, but in America, the apple has always been top banana. 


They were at the right time and place

The development of refrigerated rail transportation (1895-1925) meant apples could be shipped long distances and Chicago was hungry.  In addition to a population growth of around 25% a decade from 1900 to 1930, there was a feverish demand from processors.  The city was a busy crossroads where raw materials came in, were turned into goods then railroaded out across the country.  Heinz, Calumet, Emery, Libby, Armour, Kraft, Oscar Mayer, Quaker Oats and Nabisco were all there, making Chicago THE place to sell and produce food.  Washington apple growers were ramping up yields and middlemen like Eck connected buyers and sellers. 
  


Westward ho!

From 1914 until 1924, Eck's company apparently flourished.  The firm had two units in the South Water street market in Chicago, had begun branding boxed and barreled apples and was building a presence among west coast growers.  In 1919 Eck boasted of shipping 600 acres of their trademark Revelation and Siwash Buck apples from Washington, consisting of Jonathan, Delicious, Rome Beauty and Winesap varieties.  In 1921 they opened an office in Los Angeles. That same year, they solicited contracts from Oregon apple growers by erecting a building in Portland for grading, packing and canning apples.  The 8,000 sq. ft. structure was located on Central avenue, east of the Southern Pacific depot.  Later that year, in September, Eck purchased the P.A. Comstock ranch in Sutherlin, Oregon for $15,000.  The 75-acre mostly wooded property grew peaches, pears and prunes.  Eck planned to build a home in which to spend summers.


They lacked sufficient capital to survive a large loss

In 1927 Eck had been forced to give up one of their two units at the South Water Market.  The unit, at 51 South Water Market, had been used to conduct retail sales.  It retained the second unit that was used for car lot (train cars) sales. That didn't produce enough capital, however, and on Aug 11, 1928 the John A. Eck company was forced into receivership, their assets estimated at $45,000 and debts at around $75,000. 

The losses were attributed to:
"...heavy losses during the wind-up of the apple deal, coupled with minor reverses in potatoes.Which sounds like the apple deal was a well known event in the 1925 apple market, so there should be something about it on the web, right?  Right?

The receivership was forced when the Commerce Trust & Savings Bank withdrew the company's credit.  A. H. Welch of the South Water Market Credit Association was appointed receiver....or Elwyn  H . Johnson of the First National Bank.  Both names were reported.  Eck reportedly owed the bank $39,000 and owed $15,000 to four railroads and a cold storage provider.  The firm's lawyers, Pritzker & Pritzker, were preparing a schedule of assets and liabilities.  No small task because a large proportion of assets on Eck's books depended upon favorable verdicts in pending lawsuits and upon likely noncollectable advances to growers. 

It sounds like the company was stretched too thin, maybe for a long time, and there is nothing mysterious about under capitalization.  That does not explain the $75,000 "apple deal" in 1925 that was the final straw.


After bankruptcy

Henry passed in 1930.  John remarried a woman twenty years his junior, moved to Canyon, Washington, bought an apricot farm and died in Wenatchee, Washington in 1934. 



Mish mash

After 1921 the web reveals a loose collection of facts, none of which would seem to lead to a $75,000 loss in 1925.
  • Sep 1923 Eck brought a $20,000 suit against the Benchley Fruit company of Fullerton, California for failure to deliver 100 cars of onions. 
  • Dec 1923 Eck brought a replevin suit against New York, Chicago and st. Louis Railroad company, charging that 746 boxes of apples worth $1,021 were unlawfully detained.
  • Mar 1925 the company started brokering California-grown cantaloupes.
  • Apr 1925 a criminal case was due to start in the district court of judge W. H. Poorman against a John A. Eck.  No information was found about the nature of the suit or whether it moved forward.  This seems like the most fruitful area to search but I didn't find anything. 



    Friday, January 30, 2015

    Helping give birth to Industrial Antiques

    Next month will mark nine years since we coined the name Industrial Chic and started specializing in industrial antiques.  A lot has changed since then.

    From zero to 9 million in 9 years
    Nine years ago industrial was not a category in antiques and collectibles.  A Google search for industrial antiques turned up a few websites with tractor seats.  Searching for an "industrial antique lamp" brought up nothing at all.  Hard to believe given that today a Google search for that lamp turns up over 10,000 hits, "industrial antiques" turns up 85,000 and "industrial chic" turns up nearly 9 million.

     It wasn't that industrial antiques were suddenly discovered under a rose bush.  In 2005 interior designers had begun working old objects from factories and schoolhouses into decors featured in upscale magazines, and some antique shops in metropolitan cities were spicing their inventories with a few industrial items.  But for a majority of the collecting world, industrial was an orphan.

    Industrial wha?
    We started selling antiques and collectibles online in 1997 and began specializing in industrial in March of 2006, but merchandising was difficult, largely because the category didn't have a name.  In vintage furniture and accessories there was Victorian, Mid Century, Retro, Shabby Chic and Mission, but industrial was nameless.  To fill out our inventory we carried around a notebook of photographs to show peddlers what kinds of items we were looking for.  We couldn't just tell them "industrial antiques" because their response was, "Huh?"  The term was meaningless.  Before we could trade in industrial we had to first define it, then help educate the marketplace. 

    We coined the name "Industrial Chic" and started selling wholesale.  In December, 2006 we opened our Industrial Chic store on Ebay but didn't create our website until January of 2007, by which time the industrialchic.com domain name had been captured by someone else, so we became Industrialchic.net.  One of our first tasks was creating this guide on Ebay:  Industrial Antiques: What are they?   It has been revised over the years but the title has remained unchanged because we get a smile to see it and remember the early days.

    Today industrial chic has become so popular that its design influence is seen in new products for just about every area in the home.  A few of the items sold that first year are pictured below.


    Thursday, January 8, 2015

    Wagenhorst Photogenic Twin Arc Lamp Rheostat 1920s Dimmer


    Dim and Dimmer

    Out of Ohio history comes an item designed for industrial applications, that sixty years later would become common in homes.

    The Photogenic Company in Youngstown (today headquartered in Bartlett, Illinois) makes lighting for the photography and printing industries.  In the early 1900s one of its biggest sellers was an arc lamp called the Wagenhorst High Power Twin Arc Lamp. The Wagenhorst was equipped with a rheostat control to set light intensities from 10 to 50,000 candle power, and from a soft North light to a small brilliant sunshine effect.


    The Photogenic company was founded in 1903 by James H. Wagenhorst.  In 1922 it incorporated as the Photogenic Machine Company with John P. Young as president and treasurer, E. G. Perkins as general manager and G. W. Perkins as secretary.  

    The original Wagenhorst company patented a variety of products and components for automobile tires, guns, printing, photography and refrigeration compression equipment. 

    See an advertisement for the Wagenhorst lamp and the patent for the rheostat.


     

    Monday, August 15, 2011

    A. J. Plate, San Francisco Arms Dealer

    1864 advertisement for
    A. J. Plate's San Francisco store.
     


    A. J. Plate, San Francisco's most famous 19th century arms dealer


    Herman Adolph Joseph Plate's place in history was secured when he lost a patent infringement lawsuit over the Deringer pistol.
    Herman Adolph Joseph Plate
    (1818-1878)







    Plate Becomes Naturalized
    US Citizen in 1844.

    Born in Borghorst, Germany (one of the villages merged in 1975 to create Steinfurt), Plate immigrated to New York in 1836.  A cabinet maker, he and two of his five brothers built a furniture business in New York.  

    Augusta Agness Tolle
    (1820-82)
    In 1849 Adolph started a family with Augusta Tolle, with whom he would raise 4 children.  Later that year, after a series of three fires destroyed the furniture business, Plate became one of the Gold Rush Forty Niners.  While his wife and infant son, Henry, remained in New York, Adolph headed for California to work the gold mines.  In May of 1850, when he had accumulated a small stake, his family followed him to San Francisco, their household belongings sent via the U. S. Mail Steamship Company, and Adolph opened his first San Francisco store.

     
    That first store was modest, consisting of an outdoor stand where he sold ammunition and used pistols.  Those were boom town years for San Francisco, with the population growing from 200 in 1846 to over 36,000 in 1852. 

    Saturday, July 16, 2011

    Repurposing a 20-Drawer Library Card File

    Replacing the Army green paint
    on this old metal library cabinet will give it a new
    personality.  
     
    1940s card file cabinet manufactured by General Fireproofing of Youngstown, Ohio



    Things to store inside:
    • Spools of thread
    • Kitchen utensils
    • Paintbrushes
    • Rulers 
    • Scissors
    • Needles
    • Toys
    • Tubes of paint
    • Beads
    • Jewelry
    • Doll clothes
    • Craft supplies
    • Spaghetti noodles
    • Fishing lures
    • Fingernail polish
    • RC car parts
    • Sewing notions
    • Herbs & spices
    • Makeup
    • Baseball cards
    • Recipes
    • Medicine
    • Socks
    • Razor collection
    • Hair bows
    • Brushes & combs
    • Photographs
    • Yarn
    • Shells
    • Scrapbook Materials
    • Spectacles
    • Matchbox cars
    • Fisher-Price figures
    • Pens & Pencils
    • Watch collection
    • Stickers
    • 3"x5" index cards :)
    • Seed packets
    • Stamps
    • Little Ponies
    • Coins
    • Miniatures
    • Guitar supplies
    • Weed
    • Salt & pepper shakers
    • Soap
    • Crystals
    • Candles
    • Audio parts
    • Pocket knife collection
    • Lighter collection
    • Christmas ornaments
    • Notes for your novel
    • Receipts
    • String, glue & tape
    • Fasteners
    • Faucets and washers
    • Golf balls & tees
    • Chopsticks
    • Tools
    • Inventory
    • Stationery supplies
    • Headbands
    • Photography accessories
    • Knitting needles