Collections Carousel – Delecto Banners of Doug Birk’s Parents, Del & Esther Birk

Among the many items donated to the Morrison County Historical Society by noted Minnesota archaeologist and museum friend, Doug Birk, were these De-lec-to banners from the Sylvester-Nichols Candy Company of Little Falls, Minnesota. The banners had somehow made their way further north to Pine River, Minnesota, where Doug’s parents, Del and Esther Birk, owned an antique store. The couple had opened the store after closing their previous business, the Camp Show Me family resort on Norway Lake. The couple saw the resort while vacationing in the Brainerd Lakes area and purchased it in the spring of 1950, moving there with their two sons Delbert, Jr. and Doug. After learning of Doug’s death this past Wednesday, March 8, 2017, we went searching through the myriad of collections related to Doug and his work and found these interesting (and unique) pieces. Below is the letter Doug sent to Jan, former MCHS executive director, providing what provenance he could on the banners and their history. (see Doug’s obituary)

Sylvester and Nichols De-lec-to Banner, Circa 1910
(1988.14.4 & 1988.14.3)
Sylvester & Nichols De-lec-to Banners, Circa 1910
(1988.14.1 & 1988.14.2)

4 May 1988


Jan Warner, Director

Charles A. Weyerhaeuser Museum

Little Falls, MN 56345


Dear Jan:

My parents, Del and Esther Birk, are pleased to donate two felt banners and two felt pennants to the collections of the Weyerhaeuser Museum.

These Sylvester and Nichols (“Delecto”) advertising pieces, acquired form the estate of John J. and Frances Underleak Allen, were once used in “Allen’s Pharmacy” on the mainstreet (sic) of Pine River, Minnesota. The Allens were married in 1909 and became leading town citizens. John J. Allen owned and operated the pharmacy from about 1908 until sometime before his passing in 1946 (I will have to do more research to get the exact dates). Mr. Allen was originally from New York. Mrs. Allen, from Chatfield, was an early graduate of the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. They had a small, ornate soda fountain-confection counter in their store where I presume these advertisements were displayed. Both were keenly interested in history and would be pleased to know that these items are in your collections.

We hope the Weyerhaeuser Museum will find these items to be of use for future exhibits or interpretations of the Little Falls-Morrison County community.

My parents mailing address is: SR 60, Box 85, Pine River, Minnesota, 56474. If you have any short historical notes on the Delecto candy-ice cream business, I’m sure they would enjoy knowing about them!


Douglas A. Birk


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