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Catalog Data

Collection Creator:
Bird, William L.  Search this
Archival materials
1890 - 2010
Scope and Contents:
This series is divided into thirty-one subseries and onsists primarily of catalogs and product literature for companies that designed, fabricated and installed parade floats and or window displays as well as manufactured and installed amusement rides. Most of the companies are from the United States, but some companies are international. For example, Anton Schwarzkopf (1924--001) a German engineer of amusement rides and founder of the Schwarzkopf Industries company, built numerous rides and large roller coasters for both amusement parks and traveling funfairs. Messmore & Damon comprises the largest subseries. It was one of the most influential design companies from the 1920s to the 1960s. The company produced a wide variety of parade floats, dioramas for museums, exhibits for expositions, displays for department stores, scenery for films, Broadway and television shows, and exhibits for corporate clients. Most of its parade and department store work featured mechanical devices which animated the animal and human figures involved, pioneering what became known as "animatronics". George Harold Messmore and Joseph Damon formed Messmore & Damon in 1914 and earned a reputation for building amazing displays for world's fairs such as Chicago's 1933 Century of Progress Exposition. The Eden Musee materials document a New York City amusement place which opened in March of 1884. Founded by a Frenchman, Count Kessler and a New Yorker, Richard G. Hollaman, the Eden featured various acts--fencers, singers, dancers, wax figures, motion picture movies, and flower shows. The Eden Musee filed for bankruptcy in 1915 and eventually moved to Coney Island under the ownership of Sam Gumpertz. Companies that manufactured artificial flowers and papers (foil and crepe) are also represented. Samples of crepe papers made by the The Dennison Manufacturing Company and foil papers by Gasthoff's Display Service, Inc. are found here. The materials are arranged alphabetically by company name.
Collection Restrictions:
The collection is open for research. Gloves must be worn when handling unprotected photographs, negatives, and slides.
Collection Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Collection Citation:
William L. Bird Holidays on Display Collection, 1877-2010, undated, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
NMAH.AC.1288, Series 8
See more items in:
William L. Bird Holidays on Display Collection
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History