Author Archives: carljohnson

Practice your scales

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J. Maxwell, Jr. sold scales of every description from his store at 136 South Pearl Street in Albany, comprising in part, counter scales, druggists’ scales, confectioners’ scales, grain measurers’ scales, butchers’ scales, platform scales, jewelers’ scales, post-office scales, and bank scales. Bank scales? Guess they were weighing gold. 1858.

Foreign Fruits

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Albany, 1858: George Wait was a wholesale dealer in groceries, teas, foreign fruits, sugars, oils, &c. One of the benefits of being at the head of shipping for the Erie Canal and just an overnight steamboat ride from the Port of New York was that foreign produce made its way to our humble trading post.
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Cork, Letters, Boxes

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1905. What could you get in Albany that you can’t get today? Well, cork, for one thing. Cork of every description. Cork is something that, like burlap, has pretty much disappeared in my lifetime. If there’s any cork in your house other than a wine cork, it’s probably a bulletin board. That’s it. As you can see, the average house was once lousy with cork.

Letter cutters are kinda gone, too. I’m not even sure if there are any specialty rubber stamp houses left. Need a brass stamp or a wax seal? Good luck.

Packing boxes! Yes, it is still possible to buy packing  boxes. They’re not made here anymore, but you can still buy them. But can you get hold of Valentine’s felt weather strips? How about shooks? Didn’t think so. And does the owner of Staples offer you his home phone number, just in case you have a cardboard box emergency? Again, didn’t think so.

John J. Shea

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1905: John J. Shea was down on Broadway, manufacturing pretty much everything you could manufacture from canvas: awnings, coal bags, tents and flags, horse and wagon covers, feed bags, hammocks, etc. Not only did they rent canopies for weddings, balls and receptions at reasonable rates, they also rented “Men in Livery to attend Carriages.” They had everything in the canvas line, and were on both telephone systems — in the pre-monopoly days, there were two telephone companies in Albany.