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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Burchell's: 1921

Burchell's: 1921

Washington, D.C., circa 1921. "Mrs. McPherson -- interior, Burchell's." The N.W. Burchell grocery at 1325 F Street N.W. National Photo Co. View full size.

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Lamson Cash Carrier

The whatzit is part of a cash carrier system, also known as a cash railway. The make and model of the one in Burchell's store appears to be a Lamson Rapid, Single Wire Cash Carrier.

The book, The Story of a Service Idea (1912), describes the history of Lamson cash carriers from hollowed-out croquet balls to Vauco-Pressure (pneumatic) Tubes. Additional info and photos on the operation of the Rapid Wire system at the Cash Railway Website.

In the photo, the trolley is parked with the wooden cash ball in place. The handle is quite difficult to make out due to shadows. Somehow this contraption armed an elastic spring which, when triggered by the handle, launched the trolley (and cash) along the wire tracks with enough momentum to reach the cashier's station.


Interesting place for the telephone.

re: Whatzit?

The mechanical gadget may be part of a cabled system for transferring payments and reciepts to the cashier, similar to the setup seen in Foot of the Market: 1920.


That's an awesome display! everything on shelves so neat and tidy.


I wonder what that mechanical gadget is that's hanging from the wall right near the black post in the right half of the photo?

Whitman Chocolates.

In 90+ years, those Whitman boxes never changed, even the sampler.

Grocer to the White House

Washington Post, May 27, 1938.

Grocer to the White House,
To End Business

After 82 years of service to the Nation's Presidents, the N.W. Burchell Grocery, 817 Fourteenth street northwest, will close its doors forever Wednesday.

The store was established in 1856 by Norval Wilson Burchell and his brother-in-law, W.M.P. King. at Fifteenth and I streets northwest. Since than it has occupied five locations and has served every occupant of the White House since Abraham Lincoln.

Mrs. Norval Landon Burchell, present owner and widow of the founder's son, announced that the stock and fixtures would be sold and the quarters converted to other purposes.

It's Candy Season!

Just not sure which season it is?

But the dentists viewing this must be alternately appalled and enthralled by the possibilities for decay presented by this mass of sweet temptation.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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