Flo-Gene, etc., 107-109 W. 38th St. (2003)

B. Shapiro
Manufacturers of
Trimmed Hats
Palace Hat Co
Jewel Hats

The B. Shapiro who manufactured Flo-Gene Hats was Benjamin Shapiro (1895/96-?). He was listed in the 1930 U. S. Census living at 780 Pelham Parkway South, the Bronx. The census records that he was born in Russia and immigrated in 1906. He also appeared in the 1940 U. S. Census when he lived at 615 Pelham Parkway North, the Bronx. He was 44 years old, born Russia, and his occupation was "Milliner Wholesale Ladies Hats." Polk's New York City Directory, 1933-34, listed Benjamin Shapiro and Harry Mednick as officers in Flo-Gene Hat Inc. This ad for B. Shapiro's Flo-Gene Hats appeared in Women's Wear Daily, 8 August 1928. This notice among "Offerings to Buyers" in the New York Times (18 Aug. 1931, p. 37) appeared when Flo-Gene was located at 55 W. 39th St. They were located at 107 W. 38th St. from 1926 to 1928. Flo-Gene continued in business until the early 1950s. This classified ad appeared in Feb. 1945 when they were located at 42 W. 38th St. Benjamin Shapiro and Flo-Gene Hats specailized in hats for large headsizes. For a short period in the early 1930s Shapiro had a partnership with Robert Schillinger as Robert Schillinger-B. Shapiro, Inc. This ad from 1930 featured the Rčlaine Line from "The House of Large Headsizes."

Pioneer Hat Co. evolved from Pioneer Hat Works (in business from around 1914). Polk's New York City Directory, 1915, gives the officers of Pioneer Hat Works as Max Epstein, Benjamin Katz (1888-1967) and Benjamin Weinchel (1886-1969). Weinchel's last name is usually spelled Wanchel and he appears under this name in the 1930 U. S. Census living in Brooklyn with his wife, Beatrice, three daughters and a son. He also used this spelling on his World War II draft registration in 1942. At that time he was employed as a "millinery traveling salesman Self 63 W 38th NYC." Pioneer Hat was located at 107 W. 38th St. from 1924 to 1931.

In 1922 the New York Times (3 Feb. 1922, p. 30) announced a new incorporation: Palace Hat Co.. Officers were P. Lipin, F. B. Miller, and J. Bernstein. These were Philip Lipin (1885-1981), Henry B. Miller, and Joseph Bernstein. The company seems to have survived only about five years and were located at 107 W. 38th St. from 1924 to 1926. Philip Lipin appeared in the 1930 U. S. Census living on Briggs Ave. in the Bronx, and gave his occupation as "President Millinery Co." But in 1942, registering for the World War II draft, he was employed by the Newland Container Corp., 408 Washington St., New York.

Higher on this wall: Rogold / Hat Co. Click for image. Rogold was run by Emanuel Grien (1892-1981). Grien was a native New Yorker, who registered for the World War I draft in 1917 when he was a partner at Medwin & Grien, ladies hat manufacturers located at 647 Broadway. In 1920 the U. S. Census had him living with his father-in-law, Adolph Bernbaum, on Vermilyea Ave., Manhattan. At the time of the 1942 World War II draft Grien worked for M. J. M. Novelty Co. at 10 Washington Place. Rogold Hat Co. was located at 107 W. 38th St. from 1924 to 1928.

A photograph by Percy Loomis Sperr (1890-1964) in the New York Public Library's Digital Collections shows that all of these signs were in place at 107 W. 38th St. by 1929 (zoom in on the middle background of the middle photo on the NYPL page).

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