|What is it?|
It is easy to take certain things for granted. Almost everything we use daily probably has a patent associated with it. Someone had to invent something, and in doing so, wished to profit from the invention. In the United States, the 1790 Patent Act was the first Federal patent law of the United States, although patents were granted within the colonies prior to the federal law. If you have a patent number, it is easy to find the patent online.
Any item that has been patented has a patent number and date associated with it. So, what does this have to do with photography, and specifically, this item? The item you see here is a small wood box with a sliding steel cover that was used to mail 2x2 photographic slides. It was patented on June 25, 1957 by Edward Grosz, of Ann Arbor, Michigan. I have not been able to find out much more than that his address was listed as 1704 Jackson Avenue, Ann Arbor. However, the U.S. patent and the entry in the Patent Gazette were easily found via Google.
I don't even know where I picked this item up. It may have been in a box of photography "junk" or maybe I found it at work, but I know that I have hung onto it for about 10 years for the sole reason that it was made by someone in Ann Arbor.
Upon close examination, It's obvious that this is a hand-made item. The box is constructed of hardwood plywood and held together with small brads. It's been fine-sanded and lacquered and has held up for at least 60 years. I looked up the address on Google Maps and see that Edward lived in a small bungalow on Jackson Avenue just past the little cluster of shops and gas station where Dexter road and Jackson Avenue diverge from Huron Street. I passed by that place often, and who would have guessed that 50 years ago Mr. Grosz had a small business making and distributing these slide mailers? "Used the world over" no less!
Of course, Ann Arbor is no stranger to photographic industry, as Argus and later, Vokar cameras were manufactured in the city and surrounding area. Photo Systems Inc., is based in Dexter, MI, just a few miles down the road. PSI manufactures the photographic chemicals that are used by many of us.
While we rarely mail out photographic slides these days, it's interesting to note that there was a small cottage industry in Ann Arbor manufacturing slide mailers that were used the world over!