Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Get your Wanamaker office supplies

Today's installment in the 1910 Wanamaker Diary series (see the initial post) focuses on advertisements for Wanamaker-brand office supplies.

This Criterion Office and Library Paste1 is touted as being good for "mounting photographs, general office and home use."

(As an aside, I must point out that pasted and glued items are much harder for historians and ephemeraologists to salvage and preserve.)

It's also noted that the paste "dries very quickly and will not discolor anything."

The 1910 price for one quart of the stuff is 50 cents. That might not seem like much. But it would be the equivalent of $11.55 in 2010 dollars, according to The Inflation Calculator.

These Wanamaker Criterion Lead Pencils aren't cheap, either. The price is 50 cents for a dozen. (Again, $11.55 in 2010 dollars.) Or $4.50 for a gross of pencils. A gross is equal to "a dozen dozen" -- or 144 pencils. The cost for those 144 pencils is indeed gross -- in 2010 dollars it's $103.96!

I guess we can be happy that pencils are among the few things that have gone down in relative cost over the years.2

Finally, here's an advertisement for Wanamaker Commercial Fluid.

The copy states: "It writes a Beautiful Blue, changing to permanent Black in a few hours, and is absolutely free from sediment."

The cost for a whole quart is just 30 cents, which would be a reasonable $6.93 in 2010 dollars.

The fluid came in the following sizes: quarts, pints, half-pints, four ounces and two ounces.

I hope the Wanamaker Series can bring back a lot of memories for folks throughout the coming year. Papergreat reader Dianne left this great comment after the first entry:
Wanamaker's was a fabulous place! I worked in the toy department one Christmas for my first post-college job, 1971. Children and parents could ride a monorail that ran around the entire ceiling of the 8th floor toy department. Kids often spit out the windows of the monorail.3

Tours were given of Wanamaker's well-hidden office. Even though he died about 1922, it was kept much as he left it. The office had large windows overlooking downtown Philly while most of the store was windowless.

The store had a post office and a furnished model house in the furniture department. People would joke about spending a weekend in the model house. Wanamaker's in-store bank was on a lower level. We carried cash to the bank before checking out.

The Wanamaker Christmas show was a treat with a multi-story display of flashing lights and the Wanamaker organ music. We watched from the balcony cafe (3rd floor) or the Crystal Tea Room on the 9th floor. The organ was built for the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair. Wanamaker purchased it in 1909, but the installation took 2 years with nearly 10,000 pipes.

Strawbridge & Clothier had the brass wild boar, unimpressive in comparison to the Wanamaker eagle in the Grand Court. The eagle was THE place to meet in the store.
Thanks for sharing those great memories, Dianne!

1. Note how "Criterion Office and Library Paste" is printed on the side of the jar, but "Photo and Office Paste" is printed on the lid.
2. One example of many: 144 pencils for about $15 on
3. That's a wonderful detail! Also, "Ewwwwwwwwwwwww."

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