Posts Tagged ‘Brooklyn ephemera’

Christmas ads for long-gone Brooklyn businesses

November 28, 2011

There was no such day as Black Friday in late 19th century Brooklyn, of course.

But the commercialization of the Christmas holidays was certainly in full swing, with businesses on Fulton Street—the city’s premier shopping drag at the time—coming up with homey images of Santa Claus and Christmas trees to sell their wares.

This card, from a grocery and tea dealer at 493 Fulton, shows as heartfelt a holiday scene as any ad you’ll see today: a well-dressed mother, a candlelit tree, a little girl watching from behind a curtain.


S. A. Byers Fine Boots and Shoes, at 527 Fulton, was trying to sell “elegant slippers for the holidays” by giving us a jolly Santa, crackling fire, stockings filled with gifts, and holly leaves.

These ads come from the Fulton Street Trade Card Collection, a database of old business cards made available by the Brooklyn Public Library.

A beach scene on an old Brooklyn business card

July 4, 2011

Could those be the grand old seaside hotels of late  19th century Brighton Beach, Coney Island, or Bath Beach in this vintage business card?

It’s part of the Brooklyn Public Library’s Fulton Street Trade Card Collection, a fascinating digital archive of Brooklyn business ephemera and proof that the advertising biz more than 100 years ago was just as cloying as it is today.

Paper remnants of long-ago Brooklyn businesses

May 12, 2011

If you live in an old Brooklyn house, check under your floorboards.

That’s how one resident of a circa-1887 Clinton Hill brownstone mansion discovered a treasure of letters, receipts, newspaper clippings, and other ephemera dating from 1900 to 1910.

Why the papers were stashed beneath the floorboards is a mystery.

But I’m glad they were. They offer a rare glimpse of the ordinary businesses and services available to well-off Washington Avenue residents at the end of the Gilded Age.

Oh, and the phone exchanges! Imagine reaching a business with just a 2- or 3-digit number.

John D. Gunning offered “sanitary examinations and peppermint tests” as part of his plumbing and gas fitting business, above.

He must be the same John D. Gunning whose 1917 death notice in the New York Times notes that he “succeeded his father in the contract plumbing business.”

The Union League Stables were next to the glorious Union League Club building, now a senior citizen community center.

Amazingly, F.M. Fairchild Sons funeral directors are still in business—but on Long Island, not in Brooklyn.