Thursday, January 7, 2016

The Hoge Brush Company Files, Vol. 2

Click to enlarge

[Note: For background on the "Hoge Brush Company Files" series, click here; to see all the entries in the series so far, click here.]

Our latest document from the Hoge Brush files is a 1945 letter from the Joseph Lay Company, Inc., of Portland, Indiana — another brush and broom operation.

Of note:

• Wow, that's some design, with the plane dropping the bomb and all. Although I haven't seen this design before, I'm assuming it wasn't unique to this company. This was likely a basic template offered by stationery manufacturers, so any company could put its name at the top and support the war effort.

• The lettering for the company name at the top of the page feels a lot like the "United States of America" lettering across the top of a dollar bill.

• I believe the mention of 16" Palm probably refers to palmyra brush bristles, which are mentioned on this Hoge promotional flier. According to this page, palmyra is "a cinnamon colored fiber produced from the base of the leaf stalks of the India Palmyra palm. It has a medium stiff to stiff texture and is light to dark brown in color. It is finer, less stiff, more brittle, and of lower quality than bassine. Used in garage floor brushes, fender washing brushes, deck brushes, and scrub brushes."

• Love the reference to the new inventory being "afloat."

• The "Yours 'V' truly" send-off is interesting. Don't think I've ever seen that before.

• Looks like H.J. Lay's signature was applied via a rubber stamp.

• As noted near the top of the letter, the Joseph Lay Company dates back to the 1870s. The notation "Originators of the Metal Case Broom" may refer to this patent, which was granted in 1883 to company founder Joseph Lay, or it may refer to this patent, which was granted in 1900 to Lay's son, Samuel C. Lay. Further details on this, and on other aspects of the company's history up through 1925, can be found in these documents held by the Indiana Historical Society. Later, in the 1930s, the company came out with the Kitchenette broom, the rights to which were later acquired by an Illinois firm called Quinn Broom Works, which still makes the Kitchenette today. Although the Kitchenette has survived, it appears that the Joseph Lay Company has not.

That's all for this one. More letters from the Hoge Brush Company files soon.

(Special thanks to Joanna and David Zwiep for sharing these materials with me.)


  1. I see letters like this as pretty mundane but after reading through your description it's pretty neat to see how much is actually going on here. Good stuff.

  2. "V" for Victory, I'd wager. (and a play on very truly)