July 25, 2024

Junk Drawer Gems

Everyone has one, the junk drawer.  And while we call it a “junk” drawer it rarely holds true junk.  Twistie ties from bread bags find their way here as do rubber bands from the newspaper.  The odd screwdriver, letter opener or pocket knife lives here as well.  But amongst the “junk” live some good, old fashioned gems.

Small town businesses have handed out advertising pieces since they became easily and cheaply mass producible, probably starting in the middle of the 19th century.  Some of the early items included button hooks for Mom’s shoes, hand fans to stay cool in church, paperweights and calendars.  Later items included pens and pencils, matchbooks, coin holders and shoe horns.  Most of these items were not just advertisement pieces they were practical and often quite useful.  But when they were not being used, where to put them?  Yeah, the junk drawer.  If you need a shoe horn and couldn’t find one, try the junk drawer.  And we all had mugs full of pencils and pens from the local hardware store, accountant and insurance agent sitting on a desk or shelf somewhere.  All of these items had the name of the business or business person on them along with an address or phone number.  Knowing how often we clean out our “junk drawers” these items, over the years, accumulated.  Sometimes when we finally did clean out the junk drawer we’d find items from businesses that closed years ago or changed hands or moved.  In their own way, they would tell the history of the businesses in our town.   And in the day of eBay and nostalgia they’ve become quite collectible. 

The Canal Museum has a relatively new display on many of these items from businesses in Delphos.  Most date from the late 19th century to the 1970’s or1980’s.  Stop in and reminisce about the shops and businesses you remember.  And when you get home clean out our junk drawer to see if you have any “Junk Drawer Gems”.      


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