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Obligatory Awnings: 1901

Obligatory Awnings: 1901

Washington, D.C., circa 1901. "View of F Street N.W., north side, between 12th & 13th Streets, showing various business fronts along the block." 5x7 inch glass negative. View full size.


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10 and 2

I had heard years ago that jewelers displayed watches at 10:10 to commemorate the time of night that Lincoln was assassinated. Seems to be a false tale.

Coming soon: Topham's Trunks for Travelers

The new "Shorpy" building immediately to the right of 1221 F. Street NW address was soon occupied by an enterprise owned by James S. Topham, selling steamer trunks for travelers. Thankfully, a reference librarian in the Prints and Photographs Division at the Library of Congress was interested in discovering the history of that building, and blogging about it on the Library of Congress's website:

Nixon Importers, right next door

I wonder what they imported?


Sixty years ago my granddad told me that the only person who knows the correct time is the one with only one watch or clock.

The Hands of Time

The 8:20 time strategically places the hands in a position where they do not cover jeweler's name. Looks like good marketing to me.

I was told- - -

the reason for the clock hands in the 8:20 position was to not obscure the watchmaker's name that was located beneath the centre.

Happy face not discovered

Apparently the modern psychological discovery of the 10 and 2 happy face hands vs the frown on timepieces had not be discovered or Mr. Ramsay was a rebel. If you notice virtually all timepieces for sale are set at 10 and 2 so you are happy to buy.

[As veteran Shorpyites will tell you, it's always coming up on 8:20 at the local jeweler's. - Dave]

Watchmaker, Watchmaker, make me a watch

I love that business names were straightforward and to the point. No confusion about the services or goods they offer.


I can remember when almost all the shops in the downtown area where I grew up had those awnings out front. That was in the days before AC units on the roof. The stores tried to keep out the direct sunlight and they had ceiling fans in the store and swamp coolers on the roof.


My dad once told me that clocks and watches in advertisements always have their hands at 20 after 8 or 10 to 2, not just for the pleasing symmetry but to keep the fields of the clock/watch-face clear directly beneath the 12 and above the 6 so as not to obscure any ancillary dials or timepiece insignias.

Gone, But Not Forgotten.

The buildings and facades in this photo are long gone - including the Shorpy edifice - replaced by larger, taller, more modern structures. Fortunately, Shorpy is still very much alive and well, having relocated to a virtual community in a virtual world.

Missed opportunity

I was thinking that it would have been clever if Mr. Ramsay had painted the hands of the clock face on his sign to read 12:21, his street address.

Elegant Edifice

Seen on the right is the impressive Shorpy building. Rising high above F St NW. Probably lost to a fire at some time.

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