Today, July 28, is Beatrix Potter's birthday. She is the author and illustrator of the beloved children stories of Peter Rabbit.
Beatrix was born in Kensington, London, England. She and her family spent many holidays in Scotland and the Lake District. The countryside is where her love of the flora and fauna developed. She became widely respected in the field of mycology not only with her study of fungi but with her watercolors as well.
While in her thirties, Potter published the highly successful children's book The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Potter began writing and illustrating children's books full time. With the proceeds from these books she was able to purchase Hill Top Farm in the Lake District. She published twenty-three books.
From its humble beginnings as an "Automatic Continuous Clothing Closure" invented in 1851 by Elias Howe to the "Clasp Locker" patent in 1893 and marketed by Mr. Whitcomb Judson, the zipper as we know it today, had little commerical success. It was not until Whitcomb partnered with businessman Colonel Lewis Walker—together they launched the Universal Fastener Company to manufacture the new device. The "Clasp Locker" made is debut in 1893 at the the Chicago World's Fair.
Gideon Sundback, an electrical engineer who worked for the Universal Fastener Company, worked on the design by increasing the number of fastening elements. His design had two facing-rows of teeth pulled into a single piece by the slider and he increased the opening for the teeth. By December 1913 he had created the modern zipper and in 1917 the patent for "Separate Fastener" was issued.
It wasn't until the B.F. Goodrich Company decided to use Gideon's fastener on a new type of rubber boot—they renamed the fastener to zipper and the name stuck. The major uses for the zipper were for boots and tobacco pouches. It would be another twenty years before the fashion industry would promote the closure on garments.
The upswing for the zipper came in 1937 when the zipper beat the button in the 1937 "Battle of the Fly" and french fashion designers began to rave over the zipper. Esquire magazine declared the zipper the "Newest Tailoring Idea for Men" and of zipper's many virtues it would exclude the "possibility of unintentional and embarrassing disarray."
February 9th celebrates the world of Milton S. Hershey and the introduction of the Hershey bar. From the humble beginnings of a caramel manufacturer, Hershey paved the way to mass produce milk chocolate bars. It all started with a visit to the J. M. Lehmann exhibition of milk chocolate during the 1893 Chicago Fair. Hershey recognized an opportunity and purchased all the assembly equipment. After the close of the fair, the equipment was then shipped to Lancaster, Pennsylvania where he built his plant and town. Hershey stopped production of his caramels to focus solely milk chocolate production. After a lot of trial and error, by 1900 the first Hershey bar was introduced. Ahhh, sweet success.
You can find several books on Hershey in the Libraries collection at NMAH.
The Emporors of chocolate : inside the world of Hershey and Mars by Joel Glenn Brenner 1999.
Hershey : Milton S. Hershey's extrordinary life of wealth, empire, and utopian dreams by Michael D'Antonio 2006