What remains of some defunct city businesses

For these three companies, the only remnants are paper receipts dating to the turn of the last century, all found amazingly preserved in a Clinton Hill brownstone.

They don’t tell us much, but they provide a clue or two as to what daily life was like and what services were available.

Like that if you needed an ambulance, you had this horse-drawn carriage service to rely on to get you to the hospital.

I have no idea what anyone would need pure oxygen gas and calcium lights for, but this DUMBO supplier says they’re “for all occasions.”

Imagine the uproar if a gun store tried to open on Broadway and Duane Street today? But in 1897, this one sold “every variety.”

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10 Responses to “What remains of some defunct city businesses”

  1. Nathan Says:

    Until the early 90’s, there was a place on the west side of Sixth Ave, just south of Herald Square that had their sign painted just above the second floor windows. Apparently, they sold “Dry Goods, Novelties, Sundries & Ammo”.

    I loved that sign. (Wish I could find a picture.)

  2. wildnewyork Says:

    I wish I could see it. I think the word “sundries” needs to be brought back too!

  3. Roo Says:

    Yes on a “sundries” revival!

    wildnewyork, is there more to those receipts than what is scanned? I’d love to see the prices or itemization if they’re there.

    • wildnewyork Says:

      Yes, but much it is illegible and smudged. The ambulance receipt noted three charges for trips, all to a St. Pete’s, for a total of $9.

      The calcium light company sold a bunch of things totaling $11. The gun shop was selling something called a “Puritan wheel” for $20.

  4. Christopher Says:

    I Googled calcium lights out of curiosity and this old NY Times article from 1864 popped on how dangerous they were.


  5. LuciaM Says:

    These are great fun. Awhile ago, the great-great-grand-daughter of the man who operated Ridley & Sons in the 19th C., on Grand, between Allen & Orchard, sent me a copy of their business postcard: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1-xZEDt12GtWlB266FYxvpkqf7qgGUNtMiG00Z8fILA0/edit?hl=en_US

    She had seen a photo which I had taken of it. (http://www.panoramio.com/photo/33823809) The original had a nice cupola which is now gone.

    I suspect that her gg-gf would be taken aback by its current Pepto Bismol pink color!


  6. Harm Says:

    I just recieved an authentication letter from Colt. My 1882 was one of 12 sent to Schoverline, Daly, and Gales in August of 1882.
    Harm Wilkinson

  7. Toby Roworth Says:

    “pure oxygen gas and calcium lights” were more commonly referred to as “limelight”s, and are where we get the phrase “in the limelight” from – they were early spot lights.

    Really useful picture for someone involved in stage lighting – thanks.

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