The sign says "Est. 1912". But the earliest reference I found in Polk's New York City Directory was in 1915: "Vercesi Paul photo h 233 E 22d." Paul J. Vercesi, photographer, seems to have established a shop at 128 E. 23d St. around 1916. Then this moved to the present address in 1919. The shop sold photographic supplies, then became "Vercesi Radio & Music Shop" in the late 1920s. The photographic supplies seem to have been dropped around 1940, and the business was radio and music until "hardware" was added in the 1960s. The 2002 Manhattan telephone directory carried "Vercesi Paul J radio" as well as a listing for "Vercesi Hardware."
The founder was Paul Joseph Vercesi, 1898-1971. He appears in the U. S. Census of 1910 living at 146 Sullivan St. His father is Albert Vercesi, an iceman, who immigrated from Italy in 1890. In 1930 the Vercesis lived at 152 E. 22nd St. (a block downtown from the shop on 23rd St.). Albert is called Albi Vercesi. Paul, age 32, is still single and his occupation is "Salesman Music Store." Another son, William, age 25, is also a "Salesman Music Store."
In 1929 the New York Times (16 May 1929, p. 31) reported that "Paul Vercesi, owner of a radio store at 152 East Twenty-third Street" had been brought to court "on a summons charging that the loudspeaker at his shop caused unnecessary street noise and was operated from early morning to late at night." The presiding magistrate apparently made a personal inspection of the case: "He went to the seventh floor of the Hotel Kenmore, 145 East Twenty-third Street, and the noise was 'unbearable,' he said today." In November Vercesi was sentenced to ten days in the workhouse, "but the sentence was suspended on his promise to desist" (Times 20 Nov. 1929, p. 60).
In 1937 the New York Times (30 June 1937, p. 46) reported that Paul Vercesi and William Chermick, Vercesi Radio and Music Shop, 168 Greenwich Street, were among 21 persons arrested in raids for violations of the State Trademark Law. They were charged with false representations as to the makes of radio sets and false and misleading advertisements. A follow-up story indicated that Vercesi Music and Radio Shop, Inc., 152 East Twenty-third Street, was fined $100 for the offense. But also that "Sentences were suspended for two co-defendants, Paul Vercesi and William Chermick" (Times 4 Dec. 1937 p. 6).
The sign was created by the Liberty Sign Co. who date from around 1937 (located originally at 149 W. 23rd St.). The sign, then, is 1937 or later.
A photo dated 2 Oct. 1936 in the New York Public Library's Digital Collections shows a very different sign, stressing Radio Service.
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