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  “BRING THE CHILDREN A BIRTHDAY PRESENT”: PAINTED, AMERICAN, TOY STORE SIGN, WITH VERBAL HISTORY TO FAO SCHWARZ, BOSTON, CIRCA 1885-1910
Dimensions (inches): 75.5" x 11.5" x .75"
Description:
Terrific, vertically-oriented trade sign from a toy store, with rising sun-shaped cut-outs at the top and bottom, emphasized by painted, fan-shaped embellishments, and a chiseled edge around the perimeter. Made of softwood, probably pine, the surface is painted in chocolate brown, with ochre yellow and white lettering, the text advertises “Toys, Dolls, and Games,” with a heading that reads: “Bring the Children a Birthday Present To-Day.” Some of the characters are shadowed in black and/or black and red paint. Secondary text at the bottom advertises “Baby Furniture One Floor Up.” There is a series of decorative, triangular elements, also shadowed, near the center.

Found in New England, the sign came with verbal provenance that it hung in the Boston location of FAO Schwarz. I have spent a fair amount of time searching for early images of the store, without success. Though the history is only verbal, it does seem plausible. Whatever the case may be, the sign dates somewhere between the latter 1880’s and 1910. Toy-related signs are very rare and, in the folk art world, toys are a very desirable subject matter.

The orientation of the sign is of significant interest, not only because it is attractive and far more unusual than horizontal trade signs, but because it allows it to be hung in many locations. Vertical signs can often have more impact in a variety of spaces, because they can be more easily hung at eye level, and because they can work really well in tight spaces between doorways, between windows, etc. They also help break up the monotony that sometimes occurs with too much horizontal artwork.

Brief History of FAO Schwarz:
Born on October 18th, 1836, Frederick August Otto Schwartz emigrated from Germany to the U.S. in 1856. He worked at a store that sold stationary goods. German stationers sometimes included toys with their shipments to entice business expansion through other goods. Schwarz put the toys in the front window and they outsold the stationary.

In 1862, during the second year of the American Civil War, he opened “Toy Bazaar” in Baltimore. With the help of his brothers, he expanded to New York and Philadelphia in 1870, under the name “Schwarz’s Toy Bazaar,” and in 1872, opened in Boston on Washington Street. The Boston store changed locations numerous times, as did ownership of the parent firm, until finally closing its doors in 2004.

Condition: Minor to modest, expected wear.
   
Primary Color: brown, ochre yellow, white
Earliest Date: 1885
Latest Date: 1910
For Sale Status: Sold
Price SOLD
E-mail: info@jeffbridgman.com
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