Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Hoge Brush Company Files, Vol. 14

Click letters 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.]

The two letters shown above — our latest peek into the files of the Hoge Brush Company — are both from the same firm, the Indianapolis Brush & Broom Mfg. Co. As you can see, one was written on rather ornate, almost Art Nouvau-style stationery, while the other letterhead design looks more modern, more contemporary. So I was surprised to see that the more modern design actually came first — that letter was written in 1943. By the time of the second letter, in 1949, the company had switched to the more ornate design. Surprising!

Also surprising, or at least a bit odd: The 1949 letterhead notes that Capital Red Cap Brooms are "sweeping the country." This is presumably the red-topped broom shown on the 1943 letterhead. Strange that they would show this product (without mentioning it) on one letterhead design and mention it (without showing it) on the other.

Both letterheads note that Indianapolis Brush & Broom was located at the corner of Brush and Broom Streets — cute. According to this listing, the street address was 26 Brush Street. According to Google Maps, however, there is no thoroughfare in Indianapolis currently called Brush Street. There is a Broom Street, but it is located inside the Indianapolis Zoo.

The 1949 letterhead says Indianapolis Broom & Brush was established in 1890 and incorporated in 1902. That doesn't jibe with the information contained in this obituary for the company's founder, George Lamaux, which I found in a 1921 trade journal. It states that the company was "organized" in 1900:

The obituary notes that control of the company would be passing to Lemaux's son, Irving W. Lemaux. Irving was still president of the company through the 1940s, as his name can be found on the 1943 and ’49 letterheads (along with that of his son, Irving Jr., who signed the 1949 letter).

Irving apparently had an interest in Republican Party politics and was mentioned at one point as a potential mayoral candidate, although I couldn't find any evidence of him actually running for office:

I also found this caricature of Irving, accompanied by some unfortunate racial stereotyping:

Indianpolis Brush & Broom no longer exists. Neither does the American Supply and Machinery Manufacturers Association, which is referenced on both of the letterhead designs. I couldn't ascertain a date for either the company's or the trade group's demise.

(My continued thanks to Joanna and David Zwiep for sharing the Hoge Brush Company letters with me.)

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