Decorative Arts

Salesman’s Sample Case

Image of portrait company salesmans sample case.
This sample case was carried by a representative of one of the many late 19th and early 20th century commercial portrait companies that created large crayon portraits from customers’ photographs. Armed with this case, the salesmen traveled (usually by train) across the country, knocking on doors, displaying his products, and deflecting objections in an effort to secure orders.

Peasant Blouse

Image of blouse purchased in Mexico.
Estanislao Goff purchased this blouse on a trip to Mexico in the late 1940s. That trip was the last time she would ever see her homeland, and the blouse was a reminder of the country and culture she had left behind decades earlier.

Nightgown

Image of nightgown purchased in Paris at the end of World War II.
First Lieutenant Irwin Davenport bought this nightgown for his young bride, Beatrice, in Paris at the end of World War II. Beatrice and Irwin were college sweethearts who had married on June 15, 1943.

Table Runner

Image of table runner brought to Illinois from Virginia, 1818.
In 1818, the year Illinois achieved statehood, this table runner was brought to Illinois from Virginia. It is woven with scenes from the Bible, including the Last Supper.

Charity Quilt

Image of quilt made in 1889 to raise money for the Women’s Relief Corps, an auxiliary to the Grand Army of the Republic.
Charity Hedge Lingenfelter created this quilt in 1889 to raise money for the Women’s Relief Corps, an auxiliary to the Grand Army of the Republic. Proceeds from the sponsorship and sale of this quilt would go to help Union veterans of the Civil War, as well as their widows and orphans. Charity had a personal interest in the plight of Civil War veterans, as her husband, Aaron, had lost a finger while serving in the 55th Illinois Infantry.

World's Columbian Exposition, 1893

Image of Anna Pottery pig flask, cotton handkerchief, fair ticket, and souvenir box from 1893 Worlds Fair.

Handkerchief
Maker unknown
1893
cotton
Gift of Nancy Batchelder Fryxell. 2013.77.12
ILLINOIS LEGACY COLLECTION – ILLINOIS STATE MUSEUM
Souvenir box
Maker unknown
1893
glass, metal, satin
Gift of Shelley Stewart, 2008.83
ILLINOIS LEGACY COLLECTION – ILLINOIS STATE MUSEUM
World’s Columbian Exposition ticket
Maker unknown
1893
paper
Found in Collection, x-885
ILLINOIS LEGACY COLLECTION – ILLINOIS STATE MUSEUM
Pig flask
Anna Pottery
1893
stoneware
Gift of Margaret Kirkpatrick, 1965.14.745591
ILLINOIS LEGACY COLLECTION – ILLINOIS STATE MUSEUM

Between May 1 and October 31, 1893, more than 12 million people visited the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, which celebrated the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s discovery of America. More than 65,000 exhibits covered 600 acres on the city’s South Side, illuminated at night by hundreds of thousands of light bulbs. Visitors looked at new inventions, listened to lectures, saw art exhibits and sporting events, watched movies, rode the original Ferris Wheel, and tasted new foods such as shredded wheat and Juicy Fruit gum.

A Century of Progress International Exposition, 1933-1934

Image of woman's bracelet, brass tray, and compact from 1933 Worlds Fair.

Tray
Maker unknown
1933
brass
Gift of Sue Price, 2004.25.38
ILLINOIS LEGACY COLLECTION – ILLINOIS STATE MUSEUM
Compact
Girey
1934
metal, plastic, glass
Gift of Sue Price, 2004.25.187
ILLINOIS LEGACY COLLECTION – ILLINOIS STATE MUSEUM
Bracelet
Maker unknown
1934
metal, plastic
Gift of Sue Price, 2004.25.187
ILLINOIS LEGACY COLLECTION – ILLINOIS STATE MUSEUM

During the depths of the Great Depression in 1933-34, Chicago staged its second world fair, A Century of Progress International Exposition, to celebrate its centennial anniversary. Its purpose was to celebrate the amazing advances in technology during the period 1833-1933 and to inspire fairgoers with the promise of the happier future that scientific innovation promised.

Wedding Shoes

Image of wedding shoes.

1761
Illinois Legacy Collection, Illinois State Museum
Gift of Mrs. Robert Gillespie, 1972.028.746876

These shoes were passed down through six generations of an Illinois family. They were worn by the donor’s great-great-grandmother, Joahanna Herrick of Massachusetts, when she married William Bartlett at age 16 in 1761.

Magic Lantern

Image of handmade magic lantern.
In the era before moving pictures, magic lantern shows were a popular form of entertainment. An early precursor of a slide projector, this device used the light of a candle or oil lamp to project images on a wall or screen from glass slides. Public magic lantern shows entertained audiences with projected images, narration, and live music. Smaller models of magic lanterns were available for home use and were especially popular as holiday gifts.

Dinner Bucket

Image of enameled ware dinner bucket.

Dinner Bucket
Fancy fare for the working man
1915
Illinois State Museum, Illinois Legacy Collection
Gift of Lee I. Niedringhaus, 2006.149a-d

This dinner bucket was used by a working man to carry lunch to his job site. It is a rare surviving example of the oblong bucket produced by the National Enamel and Stamping Company (NESCO) of Granite City.

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