Albany

Barnum Blake, Bonnetteer

Or “bonnetter?” Either way. In 1844, Barnum Blake made bonnets, Florence straw and silk and velvet bonnets. He had French and American artificial flowers, ribbons, etc. He was located nearly opposite the new Delavan House hotel and the Eastern and Western railroad depots (for a “union” station was still a long way off). I’m a …

Cheap Publications

“Cheap” tends to have a pejorative connotation these days that it did not in 1844, when Erastus H. Pease was happy to let Albanians know that his book store dealt in cheap publications. But he also dealt in classical and school texts, maps and globes, blank books, paper and stationery of all kinds, and drawing …

It is to weep

That this gem was replaced by the ’70s-era pile o’ bricks plaza just makes me want to cry. That we lost all our local banks in the frenzy to make everything bigger, more competitive, and just super-duper swell makes me feel even worse. The founders of these institutions that were absolutely central to the creation …

Two cities can play at that game

In the old days, cities took their reputations as manufacturing centers very seriously, and so did the companies. When inter-company (and intra-family) rivalry broke out in the burgeoning bell industry, one company took pains to point out that only their bells were actually made in Troy; that other pack of scoundrels (who dominated the industry) …

Scientist, Practical Dyer.

In the 1850s and 1860s, Robert McFarlane was the editor of Scientific American. “A genuine Scot, from Rutherglen, near Glasgow,” he was instrumental in promoting the benefits of Gail Borden’s invention of condensed milk, and wrote an important treatise on dyeing and calico printing. By 1870, he had left the big city life and editing …

Fix that umbrella!

Daniel Weaver of 49 Green Street was not only a manufacturer and dealer in umbrellas and parasols, he also re-covered and repaired them. An Albanian from 1870 was likely hard pressed to imagine why you would throw away an umbrella when it could be repaired; today we can hardly imagine how you could repair one …