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122½: 1899

122½: 1899

The E.J. Crane, watchmaker and jewelry store in Richmond, Virginia in 1899. Displayed as part of the American Negro exhibit at the Paris Exposition of 1900. View full size.


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122 1/2 W, Broad St.

The watchmaker shop operated by Elijah J. Crane was located at 122 1/2 West Broad Street. Source: 1901 Hill city directory for Richmond, VA

E.J. Crane

I've gone through and in 1890, 122 1/2 (I ran that number alone for the whole city) the only business that came up was for John W. Willis, a shoemaker on Broad St. (W). As you can see in the front window, the man checking watches is white and I believe this is E.J. Crane who originally resided in Indiana (his wife was from Virginia). But, within one year, the new owner of this site, the shoemaker, is black and is John W. Willis.

Hope this helps a little.


Can anyone help a Richmonder out and pinpoint where this photo was taken in the city. Was it somewhere on Grace Street? Broad Street?

A Shrewd Business Ploy

This is one of the oldest tricks in any business. Passers by on the street will notice that the sign is either upside down or backwards, enter the shop to tell someone, and then figure that as long as they are inside, they might as well check out the merchandise.


It's not upside down and backward, it's just upside down. The window seems to have been rotated 180 degrees. Maybe to keep the letters from overlapping the writing on the sign behind the glass.


No idea. But if sunlight were shining through the window, wouldn't the shadow of the letters cause his name to be properly spelled out/displayed on his workbench? It'd be a neat effect.


This has probably already been explained elsewhere, but could someone tell me why the writing on the window -- E. J. CRANE -- is upside down and backwards? What purpose did that serve?

Watch Store Memories

My great-grandfather, who used to work in a watch store in New-York, said that oftentimes when they unpacked a shipment of timepieces from Switzerland, there would be a few tarantulas in the crate!

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