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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • FLY CANADIAN PACIFIC, c. 1950s

Shop Early for Xmas: 1921

Shop Early for Xmas: 1921

Washington, D.C., circa 1921. "Sport Mart, 1303 F Street N.W." Shorpy would like one of each, please. National Photo Company glass negative. View full size. Update: For the window-shoppers among us, I've posted a bigger closeup here.

 

Small Pistol on the Left

I realize this is 6 years later, but what the heck. The small pistol on the left in the group of three pistols appears to be either a Mauser 1910 (25ACP) or the 1914 (32 ACP).

Smith & Wesson

The 3 pistols in the front center appear to be Smith & Wesson. Their boxes sport the distinctive (intricate) S&W Logo, or an earlier version of it.

Nice guns

Grew up in Rogers, Arkansas where the Daisy plant was located. I had a lever-action '.30-.30' style bb rifle that you loaded from the side - it lasted for years and received all kinds of mistreatment. Also, learned to shoot with my grandfather's .22 that looked quite similar to the one pictured, but I cannot remember what make it was.

Is that a Red Ryder BB Gun?

Santa sez "You'll shoot your eye out, kid. Merry Christmas! Ho, ho, ho!"

Jean Shepherd must be chortling (yes, chortling, that's what he said) and smiling down on this scene.

Made in USA.

Yoda, I know what you mean, but on the other hand, today when we sub out low end manufacturing, the material wealth is so much higher. Most kids today would already own some or most of the goods in the window display, whereas I bet that the overall market penetration of electric trains, etc. was much more limited in the 1920s.

How dare they...

Look at them! Creating these restrictive gender roles and explicitly marketing them to impressionable children? The audacity! The horror! Someone call the NOW and shut these advocates of boyhood down!

Rampant (and refreshing) political correctness aside, this is a fabulous picture. I love these, where you can just drink in wonderful little details. You can even read the sign company name on the SportMart sign. You really do a great job sharpening these up, Dave.

What's the white squiggly line in the upper left corner? Looks like the border of a postcard or something, but how did it get in that rather strange location on this picture? Either that, or I'm missing something very obvious and it's a water pipe or something.

[It's the decoration (or alarm tape, which did indeed exist in 1921) on a windowpane. - Dave]

Get the boy something he wants...

All he wants now is a Wii, a Playsatation, a Game Cube, an iPod...

How unfortunate. I want a time machine.

Made In U. S. A.

For an advocate of American-made goods which are currently difficult (to impossible) to find for gift-giving, I assume that almost everything in this window was made right here in the USA. A twinge of sorrow takes over as I wonder if Lionel is still made here, or Daisy Air guns or Flexible Flyers. Christmas lights shown here for $8.50 (a huge amount of money in 1921) can be bought today for a couple of dollars. Yes, imports are cheap, cheap, cheap, but also disposable and short-lived. Time marches on and even Levis are made in Mexico, Converse in China. I did find nail clippers made in the USA last week for $1. Maybe I'll be like Jack Benny and give gifts of just shoelaces and nail clippers this year. Don't know of ANY toys or electronics made here. One other non-imported gift suggestion is to give the gift recipient a hand-made gift card for FOUR HOURS of personal advice. (few people will cash it in) Merry Christmas fellow Shorpy addicts.

Oooooh! Oooooh!

I was born 25 years later, but in spirit my nose- and handprints are all over that Sport Mart window. I have hundreds of engines and cars in my collection but no Lionel that goes back to the 1920s, much to my sorrow. Dad couldn't wait to put one under the tree, so I had my first one at age 4; at 62 I still play with trains! (Sadly, electric train sales have fallen on hard times and only the old boys are interested.) I do have most of the cameras in that window but they aren't quite so shiny -- but they do work, even the ones going back to the 1870s.

Air rifles weren't allowed in my family (had to play with my friend's guns on the sly) and they sure couldn't be had for a dollar then!

Even the boys in my family spent a lot of quality time using an iron (the ones that put a crease in your britches and made your starched shirts crisp -- not the ones you hit little white balls with) but I don't remember thinking it was much of a sport! Note that the golf balls there are individually wrapped. I don't recognize the bike in the window, but it looks big; in the early 1950s we had a hand-me-down of indeterminate origin, the only 38-incher in the neighborhood.

Not much in the window for the little girls in 1921. The signs seem to indicate they may not have gotten them personally as gifts, but in some families the "tomboys" had their ways! Some things have changed for the better.

Pistols..

The pistol on the right is most likely a Colt Model 1903 .32 ACP or perhaps a Model 1908 .380. The Revolver is a Smith and Wesson. I can't identify caliber size or frame type. As to the pistol on the left, your guess is as good as mine.

It's interesting that Washington D.C. in the 1920's where you could buy guns no questions asked at a department store with glass windows was much safer than 21st century D.C. where possession of any one of the firearms in that window was a felony until recently.

$5.50 for a dozen golf balls.

A lost ball in a water hazard or the rough had to have hurt!

Electric Torch

Just to feed everyone's new interest in the subject, here's a post from the inimitable Daniel Rutter that includes some early flashlight background.

Indoor Sports

Some of the Christmas Specials in this display window bring new meaning to the term Sporting Goods. The lower left section is filled with electric-powered household appliances: Irons, a toaster, a coffee percolator ("perculator" in the sign) and a set of antler-handled carving knives for that Christmas turkey. When I was a kid in the 1950s there were a few moms in our neighborhood who seemed to think that Extreme Ironing was a competition sport, but they usually got their gear at Sears. And what about that accordion in the back row next to the electric space heater?

Lionel for Christmas

I had a circa 1941 Lionel freight train complete with all the cars and a headlight. I got it for Christmas. It also had little tablets that you could drop down the stack so that the engine puffed smoke as it tore around the three-rail track. Alas, my dear mom gave it away to Goodwill one day when I was in high school. Sigh!

Shocking

Besides the toys there are bunches of household items on display (but don't get me wrong, I want the train set and a basement to put it in). I'm suddenly interested in the parallel history of the battery and portable electrical devices. Things like flashlights had to have been introduced for the consumer with a battery in mind. Of course after a few years batteries became ubiquitous, but imagine going to a store and picking up a battery and not already owning anything to put it in.

A Visit from the Innuendo Fairy

Don't all "bicycles" have "reputations?" Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more!

What every boys wants...

but should he get a revolver?

$16

There's a sign just below the sled for $16 but I can't make it out. Can you blow it up?

[Kaboom. - Dave]

.38

How long would those pistols last in a glass storefront in 2008? Not long.

Aw, Why do I have to be a girl?

I'm looking at all the really neat stuff in the window. All my friends were boys when I was growing up and their toys were the best. If I lived back then, my mother would have shopped for me one door over to the right, where they have a selection of ugly, boring dolls.

Dreaming of the train set...

Savage

I believe Savage was taken over by Winchester way back when. I had a 1918 Winchester pump as a kid. I really loved it and used it in the late 40's and 50's. Wish I could find another under $1k.

Toy Story

Great photo, Dave. I can't tell how much the chess set is, but it looks like a nice one. Cowboy suede holsters and Indian feathered headbands would be frowned upon today. I am puzzled why a thermos is more expensive than a golf set. There's so much to look at. By the way, are those irons (the kind for pressing clothes?) What's with that?

[The sign under the vacuum bottles is for a $15 "tackle outfit." - Dave]

Fix bayonets!

That Daisy BB gun has a bayonet on it -- more fun than lawn darts!

Not to Nitpick

but it's Joshua Lionel Cowen, ne Cohen. He was the great-uncle of the infamous Roy Cohn, who later was board chairman of the train company.

I have a pump .22 a lot like the one in the window...

...but its a "Savage" vs. a "Winchester", octagonal barrel, you can take it apart with one screw. Last fired about 25 years ago!

Re: Santa Please...

I couldn't help but notice the fatness of the "pre-pass" era type of footballs. More like a rugby or Aussie rules football.

Can I have the .22 please?

That Winchester pump .22 would be worth big bucks if it were in good condition today.

Alice Maynard

One wonders what Alice Maynard is selling "upstairs." Probably entirely innocent - probably ladies clothing based on what we can see in the second floor windows - but the filthy mind gets all sorts of ideas.

Santa Please...

...bring me the sled that looks just like Rosebud, and the Lionel trains, and the golf set with those fabulous hickory shafts. I need a new niblick.

Lionel Train Set

That Lionel Electric Train Set is to die for!! I know fellow collectors who, if they had only the original box displayed in this picture, would be in fandom heaven. Joshua Lionel Owen invented the first toy trains in 1901 so New York City Department Stores could use them for window displays during Christmas. The rest as they say is history. Great picture. Also, just can't imagine any store having all those guns in a front window anymore, with just plate glass in front of them as protection from theft. Were people really that honest back then?

I'll take the...

Kodak Autographics, bike and Lionel train sets, please!

Western Auto, Carroll Cut Rite....

In the small mill town where I grew up, we had the two stores mentioned as well as United Cigar and Hart's 5 & 10. Their windows examples of just about every single item in inventory. The multitude of tiered shelves allowed one to see what was inside without actually going in. For the kids (like me) that had a total of $10 to buy six gifts, it was great to stand in front of the window and budget out the allotment, figuring out who would get what before actually buying. Mom always got the blue bomb bottle of Evening in Paris or dusting powder, Dad got something in Old Spice, an inflatable toy for my baby brother, handkerchiefs or an autograph book for Sis, etc. Christmas will never be as meaningful as when we had to budget every cent because it really meant something more than just purchasing merchandise.

Airguns $1

I'm sorry, Shorpy, you don't want that. You'll put your eye out.

Don't bother with the girls

Love all the signs. Also interesting to see another pre-WWII swastika, and this one is even turned 45 degrees onto a point, the same as the Nazis did.

[That's two interlocking S's, for Stetson Shoes. Ten lines. A swastika has six. - Dave]

 
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