Gray’s Hardware post reached Texas–1896 Gray Pig Pin

Fred Bodin Submits

PigCropped Gray hardwareI received an email yesterday from Attorney David Richards of Fort Worth, Texas. He read my post about Gray’s Hardware on GMG, and the fact that ancestor Lynn Gray said: “My dad, James Gray, used to ride an old fashioned bicycle with the large front wheel around Gloucester as advertising for the store. If anyone has a picture of my dad on that bicycle, now THAT’s something I’d like to see :)” In his email, David Richards expressed his desire to give this pin to Lynn Gray, free of charge. I contacted Lynn and she’s now the proud owner of a vintage 1896 Gray’s pinback.


  • Fred this is such a heart warming story! And you have your walking the pig photos too. Kismet?!

    great GMG flurry: Kim’s seal video, Marty’s seated gal at Maritime Gloucester and Donna’s farmer’s market. thanks for all these posts


  • From Texan David Richards, about the history of the pinback: “From the backpaper, I can tell it was manufactured by the Whitehead & Hoag Co. in 1896. Whitehead and Hoag created the first pinback in 1894, but they seemed to burst on the scene starting in 1896, making this a very early example from the “golden age” of pinbacks. Also interesting is that your ancestors seemed to capture two fads in this pinback: the pinback fad itself, and the bicycle fad. It is in excellent condition, so somebody took good care of it. If exposed to the heat of early 20th century attics, or high humidity, it would have been, if not ruined, very damaged. The inks that were used in this were made in late 19th century Germany, and were incredibly colorful.

    Whoever ordered this from Whitehead & Hoag had a good sense of humor — the image of the pig is great. Also, a bit of trivia. On their way home from school children would stop by Whitehead & Hoag and be given hundreds of backpapers, pins, and the celluloid covers. To earn extra money, their families would put them together at night and then the following day the children would be paid for the number of pinbacks assembled. The pinbacks would then be distributed to the purchasing company, and would then be given to customers as ads. If you can believe it, for a few years people would see items like this on shirts or lapels, and stop the wearer to look at them more closely. It is very tiny.” Now you know!


  • Agree! This is a great story.


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