An old piano ad on 37th Street fading out of view

On a brick wall next door to a strangely suburban-looking Marriott Hotel is a relic of New York’s piano manufacturing days.

Squint and you can make out this fading color ad for Mathushek Pianos, founded by Frederick Mathushek, who had been building pianos in New York since 1852, according to Antique Piano Shop.

Mathushek Pianos hopped around various addresses in New York City in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when having a piano in your parlor was quite a status symbol.

For a short time, the company had a showroom or office at 37 West 37th Street, according to faded ad site, where New Yorkers went to buy Mathushek’s prized square uprights.

A Mathushek factory occupied the corner of Broadway and 47th Street at the turn of the century, smack in the middle of today’s Times Square. Ads for pianos can still be found in the city’s corners—like this one in downtown Brooklyn.

[Second image: Wikipedia]

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14 Responses to “An old piano ad on 37th Street fading out of view”

  1. Dymoon Says:

    love seeing your posts when I open up my mail.. have a great day!

  2. Susie Says:

    It’s cool seeing the historic sketch along with the ghost sign that’s visible today. I love that these remnants are still around!

  3. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Yes, disappearing more and more, unfortunately. But every time a building goes down to be replaced by something new and shiny, we get to peek at these old ads, which is wonderful.

  4. Zoé Says:

    How do you find so many of these?

    It makes me feel as if I had looked straight through so many of these – without really appreciating them.

    I think there was a blog a few years ago devoted exclusively to ghost signs.

    • Punto Says:

      Try googling “Walter Grutchfield” if you want to see more faded ads. He has chronicled hundreds of them on his site. I don’t think it is the same one that you cited above.

      • Zoé Says:

        Thanks for the tip Punto. I *think* I’d also come across an English one once. Of ghost signs *in* England – not NYC & elsewhere.

      • Punto Says:

        Grutchfield’s site has more than just ghost signs, like manhole covers, fire plugs and founder’s marks, which are up the ephemeral alley, but the ghost signs that he has captured are first rate.

      • Zoé Says:

        Thanks for that link Punto. I love the manhole covers & the vault lights. I never noticed foundry marks anywhere. Again I don’t know how I’ve missed them!

        The ‘dog’ section threw me off. There are some photos of graffiti. I was part of that uptown/downtown graffiti scene c. 1980 but I am still trying to sort out why he has filed these under ‘dog’ or ‘dogs’.

        The funniest page may be the ‘about’ page. LOVE. The portrait section was great also.

        Who is he? The site says “1999”.

      • Punto Says:

        I can’t say a lot about Walter, though I did meet him at least once back around 2000. His late wife Martha was a colleague of mine in the music division of the New York Public Library’s research division. I agree that the site is a bit of a mystery as far as dates go, but you can look at the list of postings on it and you will see that photos are still being put up, even if they may have been taken several years back. Another fan of ghost signs, street lamps, traffic signs, re-purposed bank buildings and other items that intersect with the ephemera featured here is Kevin Walsh and his Forgotten New York site. I assume that it is well known enough that you have encountered it by now, but do search it out if you haven’t. An excellent complement to this blog.

      • Zoé Says:

        Yes thanks Punto – I love Forgotten New York. xx

  5. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Fadedads was the blog—it was excellent! I think it was made into a book too.

  6. David H Lippman Says:

    A lot of classic ads are disappearing around New York these days.

  7. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Thanks Punto, Walter’s site is excellent, and so is Kevin’s. I highly recommended both to anyone interested in New York’s backstory and hidden ephemera, but I have a feeling ENY readers are already fans.

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