Of the many holidays we celebrate at this time of year, Christmas is certainly the best marketed. Chances are, whether you decry this or embrace it, you can’t escape it. The images in this post are for the Richard Schwarz Toy Emporium. First of all, we need more toy emporiums. (Emporia?) Who wants to go to a toy store when they could go to an emporium?
If the Schwarz name calls to mind an even more famous toy retailer, you are not mistaken. Four German immigrant brothers came to America and started their own businesses, all importing and selling toys: Henry in Baltimore, G.A. in Philadelphia, Richard in Boston and F.A.O. in New York City.
Richard’s emporium was located at 484 and 486 Washington Street in Boston in 1895 when Moses King described it as follows:
Among the most fascinating of the stores on Washington St. is the great toy emporium of Richard Schwarz, at 484 and 486, by far the largest concern of its kind in the city. Everything desirable in imported or domestic toys, games and fancy goods, from the tiniest to the biggest from the lowest-priced to the most costly, is shown here in endless variety. (King’s how to see Boston; a trustworthy guide book ..Boston: Moses King, 1895.)
The adjacent trade cards have the emporium located at 497 and 499 Washington St. I’m not sure if Schwarz moved or if the street was renumbered, a not unheard of practice in 19th century Boston. Another 19th century difference to note is that Santa has fewer reindeer pulling his sleigh (more like a sled on one card). Santa also is dropping packages down the chimney (See left.) while staying on the roof himself, a much more practical approach if you ask me – especially if you’re wearing a black hoodie and carrying a whip like the Santa below.
May this holiday season find you and those you love in good health, good spirits and experiencing great joy.