The box pictured here contains a large assortment of thumbscrews and a few Ace Hardware price stickers that read either “5¢ ea.” or “10¢ ea.” According to the box label, the thumbscrews are “Electro Galvanized” and they seem as good as new, even though they are over a half century old.

Andy and Ella Anderson, Cortney Anderson Wascher’s grandparents, owned an Ace Hardware store on the northwest side of Chicago. After they sold their store, they joined their son, Gene, in his independent locksmith business. Anderson Lock is now in its fourth location, so the cartoon-covered box has been relocated at least four times.

The caption under the cartoon on the left side of the box asks, “Have trouble checking screws, nuts, bolts, washers?” Under the right side it promises, “It’s easy with Sharon Assortments!” The center copy reads, “Be good to yourself…sell Sharon Assortments” and under that, “Mr. Jobber: Easy to check / Easy to fill / Easy to sell / Even easy to bill / Mr. Dealer: Investment is small / Stock is complete / Profits are large / Shelves always neat.”

Well, maybe not that easy to sell if we still have a box full after fifty-some years!

There are no bar codes on the sturdy cardboard box with neat, labeled compartments containing 16 different sizes of thumbscrews. Still, despite its promise to keep shelves neat, it is looking a bit shabby and is no longer welcome in the Anderson Lock warehouse. So it goes into the archives to serve as an amusing reminder of an earlier generation’s packaging and marketing designs.

And, to keep thumbscrews available for the customers who know and say, “Wow. You guys have everything!”