Among the many ordinary historic objects housed in our collection, there are some that can elicit a pang of remembrance, not necessarily for their original use, but for their very connectedness to people we may have known and loved. Consider the lowly Check Writer, or Check Protector, and one local resident’s memories stirred by the little machine:
“Grandpa bought it after WWII and used it to write checks for his business, Glen Holly Dairy Farm…I remember seeing the machine and asking about it, and he showed me how you set the amount for the check, put it into the machine and cranked it, and the numbers came out all fancy…it did make quite an impression on me. I remember asking my mom, ‘Why don’t we have a machine like that to write our checks?’ and she told me that Grandpa probably wrote more checks than we did!”
The Hedman Check Writer was developed by Chicago native Herbert R. Hedman. He engineered and patented the process by which checks could be embossed with the exact amount, slightly shredding and macerating the check stock with indelible ink, making them tamper proof. He started The Hedman Manufacturing Company in 1914, with a $5,000 loan from his father. The Check Protector, like the one above, was its flagship product.
Hedman’s company succeeded in Chicago, and was soon run as a subsidiary of the F. and E. Check Protector Company. Although the digital world has ushered in many changes regarding how we do business, check protectors are still used by many corporations that transfer large amounts of money (like banks). We can still see the “imprint” left by Mr. Hedman’s invention every time we pick up a cashier’s check from the local savings and loan!
Ever wonder how an exhibit is constructed? The museum recently received a grant to rebuild the old Town Square exhibit. Right now, it looks like this —>
The grand plan over the next few years for the Town Square is to install four new interactive walk-in structures including: a greenhouse, gas station, general store, and train depot. The museum has funding right now to construct all of the environments except the gas station. That area and all of the planned audio/visual effects will be retrofitted as more money becomes available. Exhibit building is expensive!
Normally, we try build small exhibits in-house but we just don’t have the skills for a project of this magnitude. Fortunately, Ravenswood Studio in Chicago does! The company’s bid won the project and we’re more than happy to leave all of it up to the professional exhibit builders.
Today, we went over to see how construction is progressing. The project is still in the early building phase so there wasn’t much to look at yet, but we were pleased with what we saw. The train station structure is just beginning to take shape and all three environments should be ready to install at the museum by November. Can you imagine the finished outcome?
Our Ravenswood contact graciously gave us the grand tour of the whole facility while we were there. Although they’re currently working on several projects, the traveling Sherlock Holmes/ forensic science exhibit caught our fancy the most. We were all impressed with the creativity, quality and sheer scale of the enormous project. We can’t wait to see it in a museum somewhere next year. The prospect of having a new exhibit of that caliber of workmanship at the Raupp is very, very exciting. Stay tuned for further updates. For now, enjoy a few of the Sherlock photos below.
Thought I would quickly share one of my favorite photographs in the museum’s permanent collection. The image is of Ann Ackerman, (sister of Josephine Hoenner Welter) seated between two of her colleagues. She worked as a secretary for a plumbing union in Chicago in the early 1910s, presumably when this photo was taken. I love the coy expression on her face and her splendid hat!