Decorative Arts

19th Century Light Bulbs

Image of Edison light bulb.
Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla were engaged in a heated rivalry (known as the War of the Currents) to see whose invention would ultimately be adopted by the world at large. The first light bulb pictured here is a model of the first incandescent bulb invented by Thomas Edison. It ran on direct current (DC), a current of electricity that runs continuously in a single direction. While DC was standard in the United States in the early years of electricity, it could not easily be converted to higher or lower voltages. Nikola Tesla solved that problem by developing alternating current (AC), which could easily be converted to different voltages using a transformer.

Typewriter

Image of typewriter produced by the Oliver Typewriter Company.

c. 1901-1907
Illinois Legacy Collection, Illinois State Museum
Transfer from Illinois State University, 1993.121.0081.0026.0006

This typewriter was produced by the Oliver Typewriter Company, which had its headquarters in Chicago and its manufacturing plant in Woodstock. Oliver was the first company to produce a “visible writer” that allowed typists to see what they were typing. On earlier typewriters, typists had to raise the platen to see what they had typed. At the company’s peak in the late 1910s, it was producing 375 machines a day.

Hoy & James Pharmaceutical Bottle

Image of Hoy & James Pharmaceutical bottle.

Springfield, Illinois

1901-1906

Embossed: “HOY & JAMES/DRUGGISTS/EAST SIDE SQUARE/SPRINGFIELD ILL.”

And on base: “BREED/W.B.M. CO.”

The pharmacy of Edward M. Hoy and Dr. A. C. James was located in Springfield at 122 South Sixth Street from 1901-1906. Medicines sold there included Dr. Rankin’s Kidney Tablets, Kodol Dyspepsia Cure, and Mystic Cure of Rheumatism and Neuralgia. The mark on the base of the bottle identifies its maker as the Western Bottle Manufacturing Company of Chicago that opened the same year as Hoy and James.

Glidden Pharmaceutical Bottle

Image of Glidden Pharmaceutical bottle.

Springfield, Illinois

1869-1875

Embossed: “GLIDDEN & Co SPRINGFIELD ILL/DRUGGISTS”

This bottle was made for Glidden & Co. at 101 North Fifth Street between 1869 and 1875. Henry H. Glidden started in business in 1868 by becoming a partner in Melvin & Glidden Wholesale and Retail Druggists. Melvin left the business in 1870, and it became Glidden & Company. Henry H. Glidden was described in an Illinois State Journal article as a “highly accomplished and intelligent gentleman, intimately acquainted with the drug business in all its departments.”

Dodds’ Drug Store Pharmaceutical Bottle

Image of Dodds' Drug Store Pharmaceutical bottle.

Springfield, Illinois

Ca. 1894-1901

Embossed: “DODDS’ DRUG STORE/SPRINGFIELD ILL”

Whithall Tatum Co., of Millville, New Jersey, manufactured this bottle that may have been filled with medicines like Dr. Caldwell’s Syrup Pepsin (to cure indigestion, constipation, sick headache, or stomach trouble) or Dodds’ Cough Syrup (for coughs and colds). Both products were advertised for sale at Dodds’ Drug Store operated by Richard N. Dodds at Fifth and Monroe Streets in Springfield.

Dodds’ Drug Store Pharmaceutical Bottle

Image of Dodds' Drug Store Pharmaceutical bottle.

Printed: “EXTRACT HAMAMELIS/DRUGGIST/5th AND MONROE, STS./

Springfield, Illinois

Ca. 1910-1921

This bottle bears a paper label, likely similar to those originally affixed to many other bottles in this group. The contents are identified as extract Hamamelis, the genus of the plant Witch Hazel. Native Americans used parts of the Witch Hazel plant to treat skin ailments, and traditional medicine practitioners later picked up on its soothing properties. Witch Hazel is still in use today.

Clarkson Pharmaceutical Bottle

Image of Clarkson Pharmaceutical bottles. (shows tall Clarkson bottle back left and small version front right)

Springfield, Illinois

Ca. 1906-1930

Embossed: “ROBERT CLARKSON/MODERN DRUGGIST/SPRINGFIELD, ILL” and on the base, “C.L.G. CO.”

While the oval shape and reinforced lip finish of this bottle are typical for drug bottles of the time period, its large size is not. What sort of medicine was sold in this quantity is unknown. The bottle was made for Clark’s Drug Store, in Springfield, Illinois, at 213 South Sixth Street. Robert Clarkson operated the business from 1906 to 1930. A newspaper advertisement announcing the opening of Clarkson’s “New Modern Drug Store” states that “Mr. Clarkson needs no introduction,” having "previously worked as a prescription clerk at Stuart Broadwell and as a partner in Clarkson & Mitchell’s Drug Store.”

Brown Pharmaceutical Bottle

Image of Brown Pharmaceutical bottle, The Golden Lion.

Springfield, Illinois

1880-1897

Embossed “J.B. BROWN/DRUGGIST/&/BOOKSELLER/SPRINGFIELD/ILL”

The embossed image of a lion using a mortar and pestle is noticeably subtle and is not in as stark relief as the words and images on other bottles. No one knows for sure why the lion was chosen as the symbol of Joel B. Brown’s apothecary in Springfield, Illinois.

Broadwell Pharmaceutical Bottle

Image of Broadwell Pharmaceutical bottle.

“Meet me at Broadwell’s.”

They said this in “Young Mr. Lincoln’s” time – and they say it today.

~“Young Mr. Lincoln” was a theater production advertised in 1939.

Close inspection of a bottle produced for sale at the Stuart Broadwell Drug Store in Springfield, Illinois, shows the minor imperfections and bubbles in the handmade blown glass. Whitall, Tatum Co., of Millville, New Jersey, manufactured the bottles with the druggist’s name embossed on the side.

Bressmer Pharmaceutical Bottle

Image of Bressmer Pharmaceutical bottle.

Ca. 1889-1914

Embossed “THE John Bressmer/ Co./ SPRINGFIELD, ILL” and “C.L.G. CO”

John Bressmer’s dry goods business remained at the same location in downtown Springfield, Illinois, for his entire 54-year career. Whitall, Tatum Co., of Millville, New Jersey, produced this embossed, blown glass bottle for Bressmer’s store.

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