Big Chief tablet

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The Big Chief tablet is a popular writing notebook for young children in the United States. The notebook is made with newsprint paper and features widely spaced lines, easier to use for those learning to write. The tablet has a prominent representation of a Native American in full headdress on the cover, hence the name "Big Chief."

History[edit]

Western Tablet building in St. Joseph. It is now on the National Register of Historic Places. The building has been converted into apartments and is known as Mitchell Park Plaza.[1]

The tablet was originated by William Albrecht (1879-1945), whose family had a stationery business in Quincy, Illinois. In 1906 he opened the Western Tablet Company in St. Joseph, Missouri, and it became the world's largest paper tablet producer. Albrecht's home on Frederick Boulevard in St. Joseph is now the Albrecht-Kemper Art Museum. Western Tablet trademarked the Big Chief in 1947.[2] Western Tablet expanded in the 1920s and moved its headquarters to Dayton, Ohio but most of the manufacturing components remained in St. Joseph. In 1964 the company was renamed "Westab."

Usage of the Big Chief peaked in the 1960s when another Westab invention—the spiral notebook—began to claim bigger market share.[3]

In 1966, the Mead Corporation acquired the Western Tablet.[4] Mead subsequently sold the Big Chief line to Springfield Tablet of Springfield, Missouri.

In January 2001, Everett Pad and Paper of Everett, Washington, purchased the inventory from Springfield. They closed their plant, after 80 years operations, and Big Chief tablet production was halted. The plant in St. Joseph where the tablets were produced was closed in 2004 when Mead left the city.[5]

In 2012, American Trademark Publishing of Brookshire, Texas, resumed the production of the Big Chief Writing Tablet.

Literary references[edit]

  • Hugo Award winning Science Fiction Author Connie Willis writes her books by hand on Big Chief Tablets which she buys in bulk.
  • In John Kennedy Toole's novel A Confederacy of Dunces, the protagonist Ignatius Reilly pens his philosophical ramblings on Big Chief tablets.
  • In the play by Tennessee Williams, Suddenly, Last Summer, the poet Sebastian Venable is said to write his annual 'Poem of Summer' in a Big Chief tablet.
  • In "In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash" by Jean Shepherd, Ralphie uses it to decode the secret code from the Little Orphan Annie radio show. This book of short stories was the basis for "A Christmas Story."
  • In the 1994 film "Forrest Gump", Forrest can be see getting on the bus holding a "Big Chief Tablet" it also appears in the famous "run Forrest, run" scene.
  • In the poem "Remembrance" by Ray Bradbury the author tells of finding an old note, written in his childhood, on "Ruled paper from an old Sioux Indian Head scribble writing book."

References[edit]