McDonald and Hagen scenery

Theatrical Ads from a Hundred Years Ago

I’ve been finding a lot of great advertisements for theatrical property companies and other related businesses from The Julius Cahn-Gus Hill Theatrical Guide and Moving Picture Directory. These ads appeared between 1898 and 1913. It’s a fascinating snapshot of the theatrical business scene in New York City from a century ago. I also love the style of the ads themselves, with their odd mix of formality and flair.

Morse Company Theatrical Properties, 1903

Turner Prop Storage

Douthitt Set Dressing

Gebhardt, props

Perry, Ryer and Co Imports

Prof. Dare Inventor

I like the previous man’s name: Professor Dare. In addition to prop-related businesses, I’ve also found some interesting ones for scenery studios and scenic artists.

McDonald and Hagen scenery

McDonald scenery

Knight Scenic Studios

Ackerman, scenic artist

Ackerman, scenic studio

Dodge and Castle Scenic Studio

Physioc, scenic artist

Friedman Scenery

Modern Scenery

Vail Scenic Construction

Of course, props and sets couldn’t be built without the proper lumber, hardware and other supplies.

Clancy Stage Hardware

Strohmenger Hardware

Wright Lumber

Wright Lumber

Yes, I posted two ads for Wright Lumber Co; the first ad is interesting because it lists the types of theatrical lumber they carry, while the second is just cool looking.

Finally, a number of specialty businesses appear to have marketed themselves directly to the theatrical profession.

Bannerman Military Goods

Hirsch Trimmings

Warnock Uniforms

Cammeyer Shoes

2 thoughts on “Theatrical Ads from a Hundred Years Ago”

  1. Aside from Clancy (now JR Clancy), how many of these are still in business? Any idea?

  2. I would imagine very few; the scenic and prop shops based around a personality usually fade after their founder passes on. Plus, I don’t think any scenic studios remain in midtown, or even in all of Manhattan (save for a few display shops like Spaeth Design). These days, Broadway is built by shops upstate or in Long Island City or even as far as Canada.

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