Treats for Special Collections Librarians

Happy Halloweeen from the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center of the Davenport Public Library!

A recent donation has filled our trick-or-treat bag with some items that are most certainly like candy to us local history librarians: little advertisements for Davenport businesses of old. Take a gander at these three goodies we’re adding to our ephemera collection:

First is this 4.5″ x 3″packet of sewing needles, compliments of the Phoenix Milling Company.

The “Maud S” type of flour milled from Dakota Hard Spring wheat by C. H. Juergensen is the subject of the humorous (if dated) poem on the back cover. Perhaps this offering sold more product than the slogan in the newspaper ad: “It has been tried for 30 years and proved to be alright.” (Davenport Democrat and Leader, 9 Jun 1907)

There is also this similarly-sized 1908-1909 pocket calendar, courtesy of the Ballard Drug & Dental Company on West 2nd Street.

In addition to the “Great Corn Sheller” demonstrated on the back cover, Ballard’s had Emerson’s Bromo-Seltzer for sale. Each of the blank day-of the-week pages reminded you that this potion could cure headaches; German- and Italian-speaking customers could also read of its benefits.

The “useful information” in this booklet also included a pages of poisons and their antidotes, and another of measures to take in the event of an accident. Modern sensibilities — thinking of Halloween — may find these treatments quite scary!

The Security Fire Insurance Company of Davenport advertised its services by handing out this tiny blank notebook. It is an especially delicious treat for a librarian/archivist because it was actually used by an area farmer (for a short time – less than a page’s worth) to keep his accounts. In addition to information about the company, we now know that the going rate for hiring grubbers (farm hands helping to clean up the fields after the harvest?) in November 1893 was $20 per acre, as well as the prices of various foodstuffs. Sadly, we’ve had no luck finding either Peter or Emil Nilsen in local records.

Our thanks to all who donate historical materials like these to the RSSC Center. We so appreciate receiving treats all year ’round without having to go door-to-door in a costume. This Halloween we hope you’ll brave those spooky attics and basements and find more Davenport memorabilia to share with your community via the library!

(posted by Katie)

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