Rare Victorian - Pottier & Stymus ca. 1871 Original Business Card
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Pottier & Stymus ca. 1871 Original Business Card

Pottier&StymusBusinessCard 773101 Pottier & Stymus ca. 1871 Original Business Card
I thought that some of you might enjoy seeing this original Pottier & Stymus business card that I recently acquired. The address dates it to be 1871 and afterwards. Note the reference to Tiffany & Co. in the lower right corner (click the image to expand it). I can’t pinpoint the reasoning behind the presence of the Tiffany name on the P&S card other than to say that the Herter Brothers book states that these firms worked on commissions together.

As of the approximate time of this card’s printing, P & S was an independent company employing 700 men and 50 women. Their new building was six stories tall and occupied half of a city block across the street from the present site of Grand Central Terminal. The book goes on to describe the first story’s showrooms as:

“a museum containing over 400,000 [sic] articles, ” including furniture “of every variety of pattern, and of the most elaborate workmanship.” In a vast “Hall of Models,” bronzes, fixtures, among other items, were exhibited, many of which were said to have been executed by the firm. Smaller “galleries” were “intended to show the effect of complete sets of furniture, and upon the desire of the purchaser, they are transformed, as if by enchantment, into an elegant drawing-room, a bijou of a boudoir, a stately dining-room, or a more modest library.”

Makes you wish you could go back in time…

The card’s reverse:

Pottier&StymusBusinessCardReverseSide 744943 Pottier & Stymus ca. 1871 Original Business Card

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4 Comments
  • misslilybart - March 7, 2008

    From the verso “building map”, this appears to be a trade card from the 1876 Centennial Exhibition.

    The placement and size of the Tiffany & Co text indicates to me that T&Co printed the cards for P&S , rather than it being a reference to any collaborative efforts by the two firms… What collaborations are referred to in the Herter book, btw? I do recall something about Tiffany supplying clockworks to Herter and P&S, but am drawing a blank beyond that.

  • John W - March 7, 2008

    Yes the clockworks is mentioned in the book. I remember running across a reference to Tiffany being a sort-of general contractor on sizable projects and sub-contracting to the others, but I haven’t found it again with a cursory search. It’s possible that I might have run across it on the Web

  • misslilybart - March 8, 2008

    If you do find that reference again, I’d be curious to see it; I’ve never seen a mention (period, or otherwise) of Tiffany & Co. being involved in the decorating business in the 19th century. Of course Louis Comfort Tiffany headed several dec arts firms beginning in the late-1870s, but those ventures (Tiffany and Wheeler; Louis C. Tiffany & Company, Associated Artists; Tiffany Studios; Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company; Tiffany Furnaces) were separate and apart from his father’s concern, and reflected LCT’s own varied interests in the fine and applied decorative arts – much to Charles Tiffany’s dismay, IIRC. (LCT did, however, ultimately join Tiffany & Co in 1902 as Design Director, after his father’s death, even as his own business continued.)

    To make matters even more interesting, LCT’s lesser-known cousin Joseph Burr Tiffany was also a decorator, dba from about 1888 until the early 1890s as both “J.B. Tiffany and Co” and “Joseph B. Tiffany & Co;” he is primarily remembered for his decoration of most of the first floor rooms at Wilderstein, in Rhinebeck, NY. You will see his name in the newspaper accounts of the day as being one of the buyers at the post-fire auction sale of Pottier and Stymus’s warerooms (April 1888). After 1900, he was employed by Steinway for several years as head of their department supplying “decorated and ornamental pianos.”

    ‘Tis easy to see how a mention of either LCT or his cousin could be mistaken for one of the “blue box” company!

  • Brian Lang - January 14, 2011

    While it is interesting to posit that Tiffany and Company printed the cards, it is more likely the presence of the Tiffany and Company name in the lower right suggests the firm engraved the copper plate used to print the P&S business card rather than did the actual printing–I’m not aware of T&Co. doing much printing.

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