Marshall Johnson's Design Archive of 20th-century Consumer Products

Monday, February 18, 2019

While employed by Hamilton Beach / Proctor Silex, Marshall Johnson was asked to compile information about the many predecessor companies that were acquired by or merged with Hamilton Beach and Proctor Silex.  Unfortunately, he could not find a reliable source for these records.  Without a reliable source, he began to build one of his own and that archive now resides at Hagley. Johnson compiled company histories, photographs, and other material to build a valuable archive of consumer products produced by a variety of businesses in the twentieth century. While many companies are represented, the bulk of this material pertains to the histories of The Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA) / Wear-Ever, Proctor-Silex, and Hamilton Beach, and dates from the early 1900s to recent years. Below is a sampling of material from the collection:

Wear-Ever price lists, catalogs, and product brochures, 1917 – 1950s
Proctor Company and Silex ads, product sheets and brochures, and appliance signature labels, 1930s – 1950s
Hamilton Beach ad, product brochures, and warranty certificate, 1920s – 1930s

Johnson also acquired material directly from designers. He corresponded with his fellow industrial designers and encouraged them to preserve their archival materials.  Many sent their drawings and other items to Johnson who then included them in his gift to Hagley.  Among the other industrial designers whose work is represented is Jean Otis Reinecke who established the firm, Barnes & Reinecke, in 1934.  Reinecke and his firm designed successful products for major manufacturing companies such as 3M Scotch whose tape dispenser design is still used today.

These are concept drawings and plans for can openers and other small appliances by Reinecke’s firm,
which was designing appliances for Wear-Ever in the mid-1940s



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Gail Stanislow is a Project Archivist at Hagley Museum and Library.