Joseph Berry and his family moved to Detroit in1855, where he took a job with a chemical wholesaler. Through his job he began to recognise the need for better quality varnishes. He began experimenting on his mother’s stove (or so the story goes). By 1858 he had perfected the recipe and went into production. His brother came on as partner in 1860. By 1893, the company had seven more branches besides the Detroit factory, and certainly by 1913, they had another branch in London England and had opened a Canadian factory across the river from Detroit, in Walkerville, Ontario.
One of their great advertising gimmicks, which emphasised the durability of their ‘Liquid Granite’ varnish, was a wagon with metal wheels. As it stated in the 1925 magazine ad with the same picture as our sign, “That Berry wagon you had when you were a child was finished with one coat of Liquid Granite Floor Varnish… you may have been one of the first to discover that hammer blows would dent the wood but not mar the finish.”
This sign came from the famous Fife Hardware in Kenora, which no doubt stocked Liquid Granite to counter the effects of miners’/lumberjacks’/fishermens’ boots on the floors their womenfolk worked so hard to keep sparkling!
Berry Brothers advertising sign ca. 1925, 20.75″x 15.25″, celluloid over tin, with minor damage to lower right corner: $150.00