Dick Johnson submitted these notes on a Milwaukee company, still in business, than made quite a number of numismatic items over the years. Thanks!
MILWAUKEE’S SCHWAAB STILL IN BUSINESS
BUT NO LONGER MAKING MEDALS &pam TOKENS
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel carried an article this week on a local institution, the Schwaab Stamp and Seal Company. This firm has a strong association with numismatics, albeit nothing recent. It exemplifies the American spirit to exist, continuing in business despite societal changes in customs and products.
While Schwaab is noted for its primary product, rubber stamps, hardly a space-age product, its product line was widespread in the 19th century as it is today in the 21st century. Early on it manufactured stencils, even calling itself Schwaab Stamp and Stencil Co. for a time. Victorian business used these products far more than we do today. But if that’s what you need today Schwaab can make it for you.
Branching out to other products, perhaps because it can produce these with the equipment on hand, Schwaab made tokens, badges, medals, watchfobs and seals of numismatic interest. The firm possessed presses and die making equipment that allowed them to stamp such simple diestruck items.
It is legion that American tokens of the 19th century were made by these stamp and stencil firms, usually local one and two-man shops. Mostly lettering without pictorial images; such tokens are easy to produce with this industry’s tools and tooling.
Notably Schwaab made a type of badge different from all others that collectors call a “stamp and stencil medal.” It is uniface, struck on sheet brass, often of an unusual shape and without any patina. Such light-weight, shell-like items are easily stamped on drop-hammer presses in comparison to solid medals struck in sturdier presses.
A series of these stamp and stencil badges were made for the Columbian Exposition of 1892-3 for delegates to the expo from individual states. The Smithsonian Institution has a nearly complete set of these in its numismatic collection.
The entry on Schwaab in my databank of numismatic producers lists 1892 as one of their earliest products and the founder of the company was Andrew Schwaab, for whom the company was named. I fanaticized Andy Schwaab came to America that year to start his business because of the great opportunity spawned by the Columbian Expo. Thousands of medals were made for this world famous event that attracted medal makers to come to America.
My fantasy was squelched when I read in the Journal’s article that Schwaab states it has been in business for 133 years, making their founding date 1881. Andy was busy long before the Columbian Expo.
Among Schwaab’s numismatic creations of the past are:
Perhaps most important to numismatists is the fact Schwaab made the convention badges for the American Numismatic Association in 1950 and 1951.
So-Called dollar collectors will realize Schwaab Stamp as the origin of the Schwaab Dollars for the 1894 California Midwinter Expo.with three different reverses (HK 254-257).
Schwaab was the convention medal maker for the GAR with a run of years at the turn of the century
For the soldiers going off to World War I Schwaab made a good luck token, perhaps with the intent of a safe return after the War.
Schwaab’s customers in the early 20th century were located throughout America. Their badges and medals honored anniversaries, inaugurations, reunions, encampments, dedications and other events. However I have no record of any such numismatic item after 1932.
Today Schwaab has five plants as a maker – in addition to stamps, stencils and seals -- of embossers, name badges, pet tags, price marking guns, magnets, signs, ashtrays, door knockers and other products.
Interesting that tokens and medals had a part in the early history of a firm that has developed as a maker of a smorgasbord of American products in the present era.
To read the complete article, see:
Old rubber-stamp maker Schwaab still making its mark
Wayne Homren, Editor
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