The Museum of Connecticut History continues to acquire artifacts that reflect and illuminate the state's military, industrial and political history. These recent additions to the collection typify the artifacts the Museum actively seeks.
The "Report of the Quarter-Master General" published in the 1862 Connecticut Legislative Documents, lists 1,000 "Canteen Ration Box combined" as purchased between 1 April and 1 September 1861. Seven hundred were issued to the 1st Regiment, Connecticut Volunteers (which mustered out on 31 July 1861) and two extant examples are marked to that 3-month unit in black paint over the blue. Two hundred ninty nine were turned over to QM General William A. Aiken and subsequently receipted to the new QM General J.B. Bunce in January, 1862, as "300 Canteens ‘Tyler,'" named for Brigadier General Tyler who commanded the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Connecticut Volunteers at 1st Bull Run. Perhaps Tyler had a role in the state purchase of this unusual piece of soldiers' field equipment.
The upper half features two compartments for liquids, with spout caps of brass "Patent April 2 1861" by Meriden inventor James H. Breckinridge as an "oil can cap."
Electric Massager, 1950s
The quest for Connecticut-manufactured products sometimes reaches the highest pinnacle-the product itself, in the original container, with supporting documentation in the form of user's guides or instruction manuals. This electric massager, made by Casco Products Corporation of Bridgeport, achieves this goal. Seemingly unused, the massager's bright turquoise naugahyde epitomizes 1950s style and materials. Its 8-way control and other advanced features offer the user "...a new way to RELAXATION...HEALTH...BEAUTY."
Casco Products Corp. was founded in Bridgeport as the Connecticut Automotive Specialty Company by J.H. Cone in 1921. Production focused on cigar and cigarette lighters, spotlights and other automotive accessories. Electrical products such as heating pads and massagers were introduced in the 1950s. Today the company, headquartered in Shelton, CT with manufacturing facilities in 3 states, Canada, Europe, China, Africa and Brazil, supplies accessories to many domestic and foreign automobile manufacturers and to many after-market outlets such as Wal-Mart, Pep Boys and Discount Auto.
Weicker Wacker, 1990
Of the Museum's three major collecting areas, political history is undoubtedly the most difficult to pursue. Politics is more intellectual than artifactual, prosaic bumper stickers, pins, tee shirts and lawn signs notwithstanding. A notable exception is this "Weicker Wacker," a grown-up version of the familiar child's toy. The Wacker's packaging posed the questions "Frustrated by government issues? Tired of politics as usual? Don't take it out on your kids...don't kick your cat...Pull out your Weicker Wacker and have a whack-attack."
Margaret Tehan of Waterbury created the Weicker Wacker to protest Gov. Lowell Weicker's proposed state income tax and to give frustrated Connecticut citizens a constructive way to express their dissatisfaction with the tax plan. To avoid copyright infringement, Tehan attended a Weicker news conference at the State Capitol and took the picture that adorns the Wacker herself. Tehan produced 2500 Wackers, sold only a small number and ended up giving many away.
David J. Corrigan, Museum Curator, Dean Nelson, Museum Administrator