Not surprisingly, in its heyday the Collar City (and neighboring Cohoes, the Spindle City) generated a lot of waste fabric. But in 1895, very little waste was allowed to go to waste, and the cast-off cotton and wool of the collar and shirt bosom industries was collected up for a variety of uses. Paper, for instance, was not always from tree cellulose, but often had a high cotton (“rag”) content. Cotton batting was not made from freshly processed yarn, but from cast-off materials from other manufacturing processes. And wool fibers that were too short for weaving or felting would be reclaimed into a cheap material called “shoddy.” (Today, Google finds this so hard to believe that even if you search for “wool shoddies,” it will first return you results for “wool hoodies,” making it clear you can’t be looking for what you think you’re looking for.) Although shoddy became a synonym for something that would quickly fall apart, even shoddy wool was longer lasting than cotton, and in an age when even ditch-diggers wore some form of woolen suit, shoddy was in high demand. (And I imagine if you were the foreman of the ditch-diggers, you might distinguish yourself with a high-class merino shoddy.)
The Troy Waste Manufacturing Company was a major dealer in cotton and woolen waste, batting, paper and shoddy stock. If you wanted something shoddy, they were the place to go. If you wanted another go-round at the joke, you might say they were proud of their shoddy workmanship. Their building still stands, by the way, though as its plaque indicates, the current building is from 1909. A shoddy fire burned down the previous building in 1907.
Guy Bull’s location for wrapping paper and twine is a residential neighborhood on the edge of Knickerbacker Park.
The other day we mentioned that Ketchum’s Gentlemen’s Furnishing Store was, in addition to being a purveyor of shirt bosoms of superior quality, an agent for the Wheeler & Wilson sewing machine. It shouldn’t be any surprise that there are numerous advertisements for sewing machines in the Collar City’s directory for 1870 — sewing was practically the official occupation of Troy. Andrew Aird and Bros. were the local agents for Wheeler & Wilson of Watertown, CT, one of the leading sewing machine manufacturers of the day (eventually they were absorbed by Singer).
Andrew Aird was a native of Scotland who lived in Green Island and had a number of interests in Troy. In addition to selling and repairing sewing machines at 380 River Street, he was also listed as a provider of collar manufacturers’ tools at 480 River. His brothers John and Henry were also in the business. In 1875, Andrew Aird opened his jewelry and watchmaking business in the Mansion House Block, and remained in that business at least through 1900. He was also listed as a machinist at the same address.
Today Troy’s Pottery District is a combination of history and artisans, and there are a number of people in the area creating distinctive works for sale in the River Street shops. But in 1870, “Troy Pottery” meant something else entirely. We’re talking sewage. But clearly W.J. Seymour’s yard at the corner of Ferry and William in Troy was the place to go for drain pipe of all shapes and sizes, and had been since 1809.
The Palace Lunch System, Architects of Appetites, is long, long gone. So are 5 digit phone numbers (or 3 if you were in the same exchange).
I like that in Fred Beck’s mind, a printing emergency was of just about the same import as the need for police or fire.