Friday Flashback #279

Robert Augustyn is an antique map dealer. He buys and sells items from all over the world. But as a longtime Westporter, he has a soft spot for anything with a local connection.

He recently found a great one: a business directory from 1854. He believes it once hung at the Westport train station.

It is the only known example from nearly 170 years ago. Westport as a separate community was not yet 20 years old. The train station was new too.

Even Gault — our oldest continuing company, by far — would not set up operations for another 9 years, around the corner.

Click on or hover over to enlarge.

It’s not easy to read (though the misspelling of the very important word “Bussiness” jumps out quite noticeably).

But what I wouldn’t give to go back in time and learn more about

  • Parkis, Vincent & Hinman Shipbuilders (“Repairing done on most favorable terms”)
  • Dr. B. St. John (“surgeon and mechanical dentist … Persons waited upon at their residences for examination and short operations if desired”)
  • J. W. Hill merchant tailor (Clothes cut in the latest style”)
  • The Metropolitan Oyster & Dining Saloon (whose oysters could be “promptly shipped to any part of the country”)
  • The Saugatuck Hill Seminary for Young Ladies.

Click here for a full description, or to purchase for $6,500.

The price probably sounds better in 1854 dollars.

20 responses to “Friday Flashback #279

  1. Also, the Gray’s Hotel, the apparent depot for the Gray’s Stage Line.

  2. That is so cool! Bussines is funny. Did Dr. St. John practice on current St. John st?

  3. Encouraging to see Sanford & Son in operation 170 years ago. I didn’t realize Redd Foxx was that old when he passed in 1991. His real last name was Sanford.

  4. I spotted G.M. Lees – Shoeing Smith and Farrier – the Lees’ family’s transition from blacksmith to manufacturer.
    The Lees plot at Willowbrook Cemetery is vast, on both sides of the lane and still current – the history of Westport from early days,

  5. This seems a little fishy to me. The NH railroad wasn’t built until 1848, so it’s a stretch that just 6 years into its existence someone would come with the idea of selling advertising on a poster in the waiting room (presupposing that there WAS a waiting room then) that miraculously has a similar format recognizable as a business directory ad poster today.

    Also, up until the mid 20th century, the station and community were known as Saugatuck, so wouldn’t a business directory be labeled with that name rather than Westport?

    • Dorrie Barlow Thomas

      I’m inclined to agree about the fishy-ness…I was surprised by the two color printing…that sounds exceptionally advanced to me, though I don’t really know what I’m talking about 🙂

      • Geoff Hodgkinson

        I agree. I’m a graphic designer and collector of print memorabilia. Two-color printing prior to 1900 was virtually non-existent. In addition, the condition of the poster (given its purported age) appears to be too fine, in my opinion.

    • John D McCarthy

      Also, the 203 area code was a big tip off. (Just kidding, of course.)

    • The New York & New Haven RR had it’s Westport station on the other side of the river, so it was in Westport. In 1892, J.P. Morgan rebuilt the 2-track RR into a 4-track grade-separated RR with the current station constructed on the Saugatuck side of the station. The railroad was electrified in 1917.

      The original station had the roof overhanging the platform, with A-shaped canopies covering much of the rest of the platform. With the raising of the platforms, the RR life of the roof was lopped off, the canopies replaced with modern canopies and direct terrance from the station to the tracks was cut off. A charming station was turned into an eyesore.

  6. Wow, do I love this directory. I wish I could read more of it so I could better identify the owners and possible locations. One that catches my eye is in the upper left, Samuel Gorham Cabinet Furniture. One of the pictured items is a coffin. In the 1850 and 1860 censuses, Samuel Gorham was a cabinet maker. In 1880 he was an undertaker. Back then, coffins were made of wood. It was a sensible way to grow the business.

  7. I’d be interested in knowing about a shipbuilder in Westport named Parkis, Vincent & Hinman and especially what vessels they built. But I am a bit surprised that a poster of this vintage looks fairly modern to me in its design even with vintage pictures. And Bussiness, spelled like that, seems curious.

  8. I have some old survey plans from the late 1800’s. Beautiful things, hand drawn on heavy paper. Something only surveyors appreciate fully.

  9. The Shipbuilders Vincent, Parkis, Hinman all in a oonvoluted petition to State Supreme Court (or one of lower ones?) – listed as ship carpenters – involves land sales with Horace Silver, Geo Adams, and even Joe Jennings in there – all Westport names for sure! Page 188-200:https://books.google.com/books?id=C9gaAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA189&lpg=PA189&dq=Parkis,+Vincent+%26+Hinman+shipbuilder&source=bl&ots=5_iyaKU4KI&sig=ACfU3U3O5sMiby3AkMDDb1Dcjlrwk33mUg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjMtr6W7bL1AhWSMX0KHecKAi0Q6AF6BAgLEAM#v=onepage&q=Parkis%2C%20Vincent%20%26%20Hinman%20shipbuilder&f=false

  10. “Busing” (1838) once meant “to travel by omnibus.” Wondering if the directory was designed–and posted at the train station–by Gray’s Stage Line, which would suggest the blatant mispelling of “business” was actually a wink/nod to their service.

  11. I’m the dealer and fellow Westporter who is offering the “Bussines Directory” broadside. It’s great to see so many of you with a genuine interest in the town’s history. A few of you had question regarding the authenticity of the item, so I thought it would help if I provided some more information. But first, by way of introduction, throughout my 44 years as a dealer in antique maps and prints, I have dealt only in originals, and I do unconditionally guarantee the authenticity of this piece as described, i.e. an original printing from 1854. To more specifically address one of the concerns expressed in the comments, printing in more than one color dates from as early as the early 16th century, although it was not more frequently seen until toward the middle of the 19th century in the form of color lithography, which I believe this item is an example of. (I originally thought it was a wood engraving…a rather complicated story.)
    I’d be happy to individually delve into any questions you might have in greater detail. Also, if you had difficulty reading the copy on the broadside on your device, here is a link to it on my website, where you can access a large image by clicking on the thumbnail and then clicking again on the larger image: https://www.rtamaps.com/pages/books/16000073/david-nic-muller-nichols-printer-engraver
    Also, I have the item here in Westport, and I’d be happy to show it to any of you and answer any questions more fully. You’ll find my contact details on my website, if you’d like to arrange a time to stop by.

  12. I’m the dealer and fellow Westporter who is offering the “Bussines Directory” broadside. It’s great to see so many of you with a genuine interest in the town’s history. A few of you had questions regarding the authenticity of the item, so I thought it would help if I provided some more information. But first, by way of introduction, throughout my 44 years as a dealer in antique maps and prints, I have dealt only in originals, and I do unconditionally guarantee the authenticity of this piece as described, i.e. an original printing from 1854. To more specifically address one of the concerns expressed in the comments, printing in more than one color dates from as early as the early 16th century, although it was not more frequently seen until toward the middle of the 19th century in the form of color lithography, which I believe this item is an example of. (I originally thought it was a wood engraving…a rather complicated story.)
    I’d be happy to individually delve into any questions you might have in greater detail. Also, if you had difficulty reading the copy on the broadside on your device, here is a link to it on my website, where you can access a large image by clicking on the thumbnail and then clicking again on the larger image: https://www.rtamaps.com/pages/books/16000073/david-nic-muller-nichols-printer-engraver
    Also, I have the item here in Westport, and I’d be happy to show it to any of you and answer any questions more fully. You’ll find my contact details on my website, if you’d like to arrange a time to stop by.

  13. May not actually be a typo as the rules for standardized spelling were still a work in progress in 1854.

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