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The Boss Nutmeg Grater   ~   Horace T. Helmbold, Inventor

Image wanted for Helmbold

Becoming a successful inventor required personal ingenuity, intelligent thinking, creativity, self confidence, some luck, a great deal of hard work and some new ideas. In the last quarter of the nineteenth century, Philadelphia City Directories regularly list Horace T. Helmbold's occupation as an "Inventor." Among his many inventions, Helmbold created his Boss Nutmeg Grater.

During Horace's childhood in Philadelphia, his father, Frederick Helmbold, owned both a hotel and public horse-market at the south-east corner at Market and Centre Street... where you could buy a horse from one to one thousand dollars!  In Fredrick's later years his vocation is listed simply as a "gentleman;" meaning he was a person of means who did not work directly, but whose income came from his businesses and land holdings. Breed from wealth, Horace resided his entire life at his childhood home; 803 Broad Street at the corner of Brown in Philadelphia.

During the decade following the Civil War and as a young adult, Horace was first employed as a bank~broker for Withers & Peterson (39 S 3rd, Philadelphia). Following this is when Horace evolved as an inventor. Between 1876 and 1892, Horace developed his novelties manufactory at 446 N 12th Street. His first product, a bridle broom, was the likely result to Horace's first hand knowledge of his father's famed livery stables. Over the years, Horace obtained at least three patents for ~ a water-brush (1875), a toy trundle (1881) and a burglar-alarm (1885). Another invention was the nutmeg grater. Although no advertisement or sales information for the Boss Nutmeg Grater is yet known; with certainty, it was produced at some point within this time period.

The photo below features two Boss Nutmeg Graters. The red example (Fig A) shows traces of black painted lettering reading, in part, Boss Nutmeg Grater ; the green example is lettered in gilding (Fig B1 {closed} & Fig B2 {opened}) and reads Boss Nutmeg And Dry Root Grater ~ Examine It!
                          Image of Boss Nutmeg Grater A

the Boss Nutmeg Grater B

While lettering on both examples has faded, when photographed under black-light, expose at 90 second (Fig B3) the gilded lettering fluoresces and becomes as clearly legible as the day it was printed. Notice the end-cap claims "PAT. APPD FOR;" yet, it remains unknown whether an actual submitted patent application remained unresolved, or if Helmbold simply included this label to discourage competitors from duplicating his design.

Before 1890, Helmbold introduced his most successful product: Helmbold's Boss, Brilliant Metal Polish. (see: Oct. 1900 Ad). Helmbold's Metal Polish appears successful because the Philadelphia directories post its continued sale at least through 1918. During the mid-to-late 1890's, the business name at 446 N 12th Street becomes listed as Standard Plating Works. The Industrial Directory of Pennsylvania indicated the firm as having 2 to 4 employees. Standard Plating Works continued without Horace T. Helmbold after he died in 1917.

Helmbold Metal Polish Ad

      Help us find photographs of Horace T. Helmbold, his family, home or business. We would love to include these images with this research.
      Is anyone wishing to share their images?  Let us hear from you.  Thanks you!

For today's collectors, the Boss Nutmeg Grater is very scarce.                                                                             [KLOPFER article © September 2013]