The Smithsonian Institution: The Nation’s Attic

Hammacher Schlemmer SmithsonianMany artifacts of American memorabilia are found in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC: Archie Bunker’s chair, Dorothy’s ruby slippers…and a hard-bound copy of the 1912 edition of the Hammacher Schlemmer catalog. At 1,112 pages, this is the catalog that established us as the most complete source for hardware on the East Coast.

Founded on this day in 1846, the Institution has been nicknamed “the nation’s attic” for its eclectic collection of 137 million items. Overall, the Smithsonian is a group of museums, research centers and a zoo administered entirely by the U.S. government.

Some of the earliest items amassed for the collections of the Institution, which was known as the United States National Museum at the time, were scientific apparatus for demonstration purposes. A few years later, the Institution made a major purchase of fine arts prints, along with the addition of plant and animal specimens collected during the United States Exploring Expedition of 1838-1842. The historical items in the museum expanded quickly, with one of the most notable acquisitions Abe Lincoln’s famous top hat, worn to the Ford Theater the night of his assassination.

Among the most famous items found in the Smithsonian is the Hope Diamond. The Institution also holds in its collection many items whose value is sentimental, including both the first teddy bear, made in 1903 in honor of President Theodore Roosevelt, and Sesame Street’s Kermit the Frog. A more recent item to join the Smithsonian, acquired this June, is professional skateboarder Tony Hawk’s first skateboard.

Hammacher Schlemmer is extremely honored to be housed in the Institution that was established “for the increase and diffusion of knowledge” and to have our place in American history.

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