This is the 18th Street end of an L-shaped building with its main entrance on Broadway. The sign refers to A. Steinhardt & Bro., importers, exporters and manufacturers of "fancy goods." Fancy goods is a term still in use today that was much in use a century ago to refer to luxury items such as giftware, ornaments, fragrances, toys, dolls and god knows what all too diverse to fit any more specific term. It was also used (as defined in Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary of 1913) as "fabrics of various colors, patterns, etc., as ribbons, silks, laces, etc., in distinction from those of a simple or plain color or make."
Click here for sign on Broadway end of building. The Broadway sign has been virtually obliterated by a later one for M & L Hess Real Estate. For more on M & L Hess see the sign on their main office at 907 Broadway. (The Hess sign with the telephone number ALgonquin 4-2700 can be dated to no earlier than 1931 when their phone number first took this form.) The word HOLIDAY appears tantilizingly in the bottom left corner. The full text of the sign probably read something like A. Steinhardt & Bro / Fancy Goods / Notions / Holiday Goods.
Steinhardt was located in this building from around 1912 to 1921. The signs, then, must date from that period.
The firm was founded in about 1870 by Abraham Steinhardt (1844-1897) and was renamed A. Steinhardt & Brother around 1873 when Edward Steinhardt (1850-?) became his brother's partner. This advertisement from the New York Tribune, dates from Jan. 1897, when the business was located at 452 Broadway near Grand St.
Abraham Steinhardt's death Aug. 15, 1897 makes an impressive story in the New York Times: dying suddenly "of a hemorrhage in a waiting room at the Brooklyn Terminal of the Brooklyn Bridge." Some ot the detail in this account is quite amazing: "They were seated in Bridge Car No. 99." "Mr. Steinhardt ... fell to the floor, with a torrent of blood gushing from his mouth." "Patrolmen John Dowling and Thomas Brown boarded the car to aid the stricken man." Mrs. Steinhardt, his wife, "raved in distracted agony for some three hours and a half." She "implored the police officials to give him ice water and a drink of milk."
Following Abraham Steinhardt's death, a son-in-law (he married Abraham Steinhardt's eldest daughter, Bertha), David Rosenthal, became president of the company, "a position he held until the firm was dissolved in 1929." Rosenthal "came to [New York] in 1879 and entered the employ of the Steinhardt firm at a salary of $3 a week." (Quoting from Rosenthal's obituary in the New York Times, 15 Sep. 1940.)
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