The object featured in this blog was made for the Shriners of the Salaam temple. The Salaam Temple, now known as Symphony Hall, was constructed by the Shriners in 1925 for two million dollars. For many years it was also known as the Mosque. Symphony Hall is among a select group of New Jersey theaters to have achieved recognition on the National Register of Historic Places.
The fob was made by the Art Metal Works which stood on the southwest corner of Center and Mulberry Streets across the street from the present NJPAC. The Art Metal Works, founded in NYC, was relocated to Newark in 1897. They became a well known manufacturer of art metal novelties. Among their products were clocks, jewel cases, desk articles, smokers articles, vases, candelabra, electric lamps, ink wells, religious and church goods, frames, statuettes, thermometers etc. The entire list included more than ten thousand items.
Louis V. Aronson, an inventor and businessman, was the owner of the Art Metal Works. In 1913, he patented the now ubiquitous pocket lighter . They were manufactured under the name Ronson, an abbreviation of the founder’s name. I don’t believe the name Ronson needs any explanation. The former intersection of Mulberry(now realigned) and Center Streets was named Aronson Square in his honor.
This fob features a Billiken, wearing a Shriner fez that says Salaam, astride a “Jersey ” cow and holding a boat in the shape of the Noah’s Ark bearing the words “New Ark” . For those who may not know what a Billiken is Wikipedia says the following:
” The Billiken is a charm doll created by an American art teacher and illustrator, Florence Pretz of Kansas City, Missouri. Billiken is known as “The God of Things As They Ought To Be.” To buy a Billiken was said to give the purchaser luck, but to have one given would be better luck.” The history of this often maligned city is so rich and varied. So many things have happened here and people just don’t know. I hope this blog helps to bring this history to light. If somebody can say- “Wow I didn’t know that happened in Newark” I’ll be happy.