The Dennison Beginnings: 1844-1850

By Laura Stagliola, Administrative Assistant

November 12, 2014

Dennison homestead

It all began in a small house in Brunswick, Maine in 1844. Aaron Dennison, a Boston watchmaker and jeweler, was frustrated with the poor quality of European jewelry boxes, and decided to craft a sturdy yet elegant jewelry box. While Aaron often made what he needed as a jeweler, he traveled to his childhood home in Brunswick to enlist the help of his family. His father, Colonel Andrew Dennison, was a shoemaker and cut the pasteboard supplies into box forms, and his sisters Julia and Matilda put the boxes together and covered each with fancy glazed paper. Later on Aaron’s brother, Eliphalet Whorf (E.W.), was also recruited in the box business as a salesman for his remarkable ability to attract potential customers. The jewelry boxes quickly became very popular and to meet the growing demand Aaron and Andrew hired ten workers and added new machinery in the first year alone.

In the early years of the box business, Aaron sold his product in Boston and shipped supplies to the factory in Brunswick. After a year or so, Aaron only wanted to focus solely on his watchmaking, while Andrew continued working on the boxes. Living in Maine, the Colonel needed an agent to go between the factory and Boston. On October 1, 1849 Aaron made E.W. responsible for managing the box sales and supplies for the company and Aaron soon retired from the box business. E.W. was a gifted salesman and he was always on the lookout for new ideas and products as he traveled across the nation promoting the jewelry boxes. They added items such as “twine, white and pink cotton, and jewelry cards” to broaden their product line. E.W. also introduced new custom boxes for “combs, wedding cakes, needles, flowers and hairpins,” to name a few.[1]

Finally in 1850, E.W. saw the potential to branch out and seek new product opportunities which prompted him to open his first salesroom and office at 203 Washington Street, Boston.

[1] The Dennison Mfg. Co. Archival Collection at the FHC.

Window display at the Framingham Public Library – November 1st through 30th

By Laura Stagliola, Administrative Assistant

November 10, 2014

Framingham History Center volunteers Linda deCougny and Nancy Hulme, along with Administrative Assistant, Laura Stagliola, installed a Dennison Manufacturing Company themed display case on October 30, 2014. The window display on the left side of the lobby of the recently renovated Framingham Public Library, features Halloween and Thanksgiving decorations made by The Dennison, as well as some of their most known for items such as the Buttoneer, jewelry boxes and the iconic gold star adhesives. From the ceiling of the display case hang reinforced tags like those of The Dennison to draw the eye of library goers. It was alot of fun installing the display! Make sure to stop by the FPL throughout the month of November to see it for yourself!

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The Holy Grail of Halloween decorations: Hobgoblinville

By Laura Stagliola, Administrative Assistant

October 30, 2014


According to The Mark B. Ledenbach Halloween Collection at,

Spookville (by Whitman)… isn’t to be confused with the awesome and tear-inducingly hard-to-find six section Hobgoblinville table decoration Dennison issued in 1928 for the then-steep price of $2.00.

He continues,

This has routinely eluded by grasp for decades and now tops the list of MBL’s Holy Grails!

With the recent acquisition of the contents of the Dennison Manufacturing Company’s History Room, the Framingham History Center unearthed the Spring 1928 What’s Next? (a publication sent to Dennison dealers and retail stores) where an image of the Hobgoblinville decoration was advertised. The advertisement briefly describes the decoration:

A new Hobgoblinville cut-out is most original and attractive. This comes in three sections, and although it is illustrated below in the long panel, it must be displayed and seen complete to be appreciated fully. It would be impossible here to tell you in detail about all the new subjects of interest, and you will want to see the complete line for yourself.

While we do not have a physical cut-out of Hobgoblinville in our collection, an image of the decoration must suffice! Happy Hallowe’en!

Hobgoblinville table decoration

Hobgoblinville table decoration, Spring 1928 What’s Next?, Dennison Mfg. Co.

Hobgoblinville What's Next article

Hobgoblinville Spring 1928 What’s Next article, Dennison Mfg. Co.

Framingham: History Center opening exhibit featuring Dennison Co.

By Danielle Ameden
Daily News Staff
Posted Oct. 30, 2014 @ 12:01 am

FRAMINGHAM – For nearly 100 years, Dennison Manufacturing Co. was part of the fabric of Framingham. Its clever products – from practical boxes and tags to authoritative Bogie Books – helped the company grow to be one of the town’s two biggest employers.

The company got its start in 1844, but didn’t find its home in Framingham until 1897.

“The selectmen basically really wanted them to come. I believe they sweetened the pot, I’m not sure how,” Framingham History Center Executive Director Annie Murphy said, but the board lured the business here from Roxbury and the company stayed until 1990, when it merged with Avery International. “It really did transform Framingham.”

When the company relocated to the West Coast after the merger, so too went all the artifacts Dennison kept in a history room here.

“Everything in it was moved to California,” Murphy said. “People were like, ‘Wait, you’re taking 100 years of Framingham history with you.’”

Nearly 25 years later, the archives are back and history center staff and volunteers are now combing through and curating the pieces of history to put on display.

An exhibit is scheduled to open Friday, Nov. 14, part of a lineup of events highlighting the mark Dennison made on the town.

John Harvard’s Brewery & Ale House in Shoppers World kicks things off next Thursday, Nov. 6, with the launch of a Dennison “Tag Town Lager” beer between 6 and 8 p.m.

The brew is named for the “Tag Town” moniker Dennison earned Framingham because of the millions of tags it produced daily at its Southside plant. John Harvard’s will sell the beer through December and donate $1 to the history center for every pint sold.

The history center opens its exhibit to members and donors only on Nov. 14 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Edgell Memorial Library, 3 Oak St.

The exhibit, presented by sponsors Staples and Avery Dennison’s Retail Branding and Information Solutions, opens to the general public on Nov. 15 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. It will remain open through December 2015, Wednesdays through Saturdays from 1 to 4 p.m. Admission is free for Framingham History Center members and $5 for nonmembers.

The history center is also organizing a big Dennison employee reunion at Dec. 4 for former workers, their families and family members of those employees now passed away.

“That’s going to be huge. I think we’ll definitely sell out the Village Hall,” Murphy said.

“Dennison leaving Framingham was a real blow to this community and I think it’s bringing out this history and bringing people together, it’s almost a little bit of a healing process of trying to know that the legacy is back in Framingham,” she said. “It’s still here and it lives on. I think that’s very exciting.”

History Comes Alive at Framingham’s Old Burying Ground

Nine historic figures from Framingham’s past had their stories told to a sold out crowd during a cemetery tour over the weekend.

A Dennison “Tag Town Lager” Beer Launch!

Thursday, November 6, 2014    

6:00 – 8:00 p.m.

John Harvard’s Brewery and Ale House

One Worcester Road, Framingham, MA

beer glass

In anticipation of our exhibition, join us at John Harvard’s for free appetizers and samples of a specially brewed ale in honor of “The Dennison.” John Harvard’s will be selling this brew through December donating $1 to the FHC for every pint sold. Bring family and friends and stay for dinner too! Pint glasses (shown here) will be sold for $10 at the launch party.

Tickets are not required as this is a FREE sampling event!



The Dennison Mfg. Company 1844 – 1990: Opening Night for Members & Donors only*

Friday, November 14, 2014    

6:00 – 7:30 p.m.

Edgell Memorial Library

3 Oak St., Framingham, MA

largest tag factory in the world (2)

From creating the first American-made boxes to producing the ubiquitous tags and labels that organized the country, the Dennison name meant quality. Trace the timeline of this remarkable company. Take in the window displays, discover Babylonian tags from 2400 B.C. and surprising crepe paper art among the many eye catching images and treasures from the past. While viewing the exhibition, enjoy refreshments including complimentary hors d’oeuvres centered around the Dennison theme and a “Reinforcer” cocktail specially created for this festive night!

*If you want to join us as a member that night or beforehand, click here to join at a special rate of $18.97.


The Dennison Mfg. Company 1844 – 1990: Exhibition Open to the Public

Saturday, November 15, 2014 

11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Edgell Memorial Library

3 Oak St., Framingham, MA

Exhibition open Wednesday-Saturday 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. until December 2015.

dennison girl

Admission: Free to FHC members, $5.00 non-member

Special new member rate of $18.97 will apply throughout the duration of the exhibition.



Dennison Employee Reunion

Thursday, December 4, 2014

6:00 – 9:00 p.m.

Historic Village Hall

2 Oak Street, Framingham, MA

Dennison_logo_w-smokestackJoin us and many other former Dennison employees, their families, and family members of those who are no longer with us for a special reunion. Visit with friends and take in an exhibition that will bring you back in time. Over a year ago, Avery Dennison shipped back a tractor trailer full of archives to Framingham and the Framingham History Center staff and volunteers have been sorting through them ever since.  This exhibition is a celebration of the return of this archive and the Dennison legacy.

The Reunion will take place at the Village Hall on the Framingham Centre Common    (2 Oak St.) from 6:00-9:00 p.m. There will be hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar. The exhibition will also be open across the street at the Framingham History Center (3 Oak St.)

Tickets are $10 per person and space is limited. Be sure to reserve your spot(s) by sending your check made out to the FHC to:

Annie Murphy, Executive Director

Framingham History Center

P.O. Box 2032

Framingham, MA  01703

Or visit the homepage to purchase tickets. If you can’t make it and want to make a tax deductible donation to the FHC toward their efforts to preserve the Dennison collection, follow this link or mail your check to this non-profit 501(c)3 organization.