The American Electrical Novelty and Manufacturing Company ran ads in the early postal publications for their new “Ever Ready Flash Light.” The “flash light” originated in patent #617,592, which David Misell received on January 10, 1899. Misell assigned the invention over to the company he worked for, the American Electrical Novelty and Manufacturing Company. The company owner, Conrad Hubert, recognized the great potential of this new invention and by 1905 (two years after this ad appeared in R.F.D. News) changed the company name to the American Ever Ready Company. He trademarked his flashlights and batteries under the name Ever Ready.” The holdings of this company are part of the company known in 2012 as Energizer Holdings, Inc.
The Chicago Electric Manufacturing Company produced a variety of electric appliances in the early 20th century. This ad recognized the fact that most rural carriers relied on horses to make their daily rounds. Their product, an electric prod to “break balky horses” would raise eyebrows in today’s market. The company was purchased in 1953 by Silex, and would become part of the Procter-Silex company.
Chicago Auto Robe Supply Company manufactured an automobile and driver’s robe. It provided drivers of open-air vehicles with protection from the cold and dirt. The driver’s robe, also called a lap robe, consists of rubberized canvas that is lined with forest-green wool. It opens in the back, is held about the body by a steel spring band in the waist, and is closed at bottom with leather overshoes. The company was owned and operated by a family of Chicago fur manufacturers, the Hoenigsbergers. Harry L. Hoenigsberger received patent #823,469 for his “spring-belt” design lap robe on June 12, 1906.
The Davis Lap Robe Company produced lap robes for wagon and automobile drivers. The “Lap Robe of Comfort.” This full page ad from RFD News offered a special robe for RFD carriers “hand-made of our special weave of triple fabric, wind and water proof Mackintosh cloth . . . in Oxford Gray, a handsome and serviceable color, lined with heavy, imported, dark green plush, and securely locked to place with large patent glove fasteners.”
The “Icy-Hot Bottle Company” of Cincinnati, Ohio hoped to attract the long-working rural carriers with its promises of hot or cold lunches during the work day. The company began operations in 1909. Its leading engineer, George Altenberg, filed dozens of patents on behalf of Icy-Hot, everything from the operation of the thermos to designing the container. The company also produced jars and pitchers that utilized the vacuum principle to regulate food temperature. The company was absorbed by Thermos in 1925.
The Harrington Manufacturing Company supplemented their rural wagon sales with other products that were sure to catch rural carriers’ eyes. These included harnesses and carriage heaters as well as straps for binding letters and bob sleighs and runners that could turn a wheeled-wagon into a winter sleigh. The company began its operations in 1903 in Monticello, Illinois, but moved the next year to Peoria. Harrington also marketed carts to RFD carriers, for “those times when you can’t use your wagon.” Francis M. Harrington received patent #812,421 on February 13, 1906 for his design of a cart he noted could be used for carrying mail or milk. Harrington’s innovation was to provide “a two-wheeled cart that will be free of what is known as ‘horse motion.’”
Frank Kelly and his brothers owned and operated the Kelly Foundry and Machine Company in Goshen, Indiana. The company produced a variety of iron products as well as wagons. They actively marketed a variety of their goods, as can be seen in this advertisement from R.F.D. News, to rural carriers.