20

February

2018

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Window Dressing in the 19th Century

by Alexia MacClain

Trade catalogs might include products sold by stores, but those stores also need fixtures to display the products. Some of the catalogs in the Trade Literature Collection illustrate retail display fixtures, like this one from 1894.

The catalog is entitled Illustrated Catalogue and Price List of Store and Window Dressers’ Hardware, Display Fixtures and Stands, Mirrors and Store Stools (1894) by Casler-Alton Co. It shows a variety of ways to display products like using racks, cases, and holders along with related hardware such as clamps, hooks, and brackets.

people looking at store windows along a street

Casler-Alton Co., Cleveland, OH. Illustrated Catalogue and Price List of Store and Window Dressers’ Hardware, Display Fixtures and Stands, Mirrors and Store Stools, 1894, front cover showing people looking at store windows along a street.

title page of Casler-Alton Co. 1894 trade catalog

Casler-Alton Co., Cleveland, OH. Illustrated Catalogue and Price List of Store and Window Dressers’ Hardware, Display Fixtures and Stands, Mirrors and Store Stools, 1894, title page.

 

Illustrated below is one way a store might have displayed shoes. Frame No. 77, on the left, is shown with shoes positioned on four tiers. The width and height of the frame was adjustable to accommodate any number of shoes. This frame was also useful for displaying other products, like bottled items. Another alternative was to display just one shoe at a time, as Stand No. 71 shows on the below right. It came in varying heights of 8, 12, or 16 inches with a flat surface measuring 6 x 9 for the shoe to sit on.

display frame, shoe bracket, shoe stands, and shoe holder displaying shoes

Casler-Alton Co., Cleveland, OH. Illustrated Catalogue and Price List of Store and Window Dressers’ Hardware, Display Fixtures and Stands, Mirrors and Store Stools, 1894, pages 56-57, display frame, shoe bracket, shoe stands, and shoe holder.

 

To display products in store windows, the hanging window fixture might have come in handy. In the example below, the store displays handkerchiefs, gloves, men’s ties, and socks on three fixtures attached to the ceiling of the window area. Made of clamps and rods, it displayed the products on the fixture in the design of a circle.

hanging window fixture displaying handkerchiefs, gloves, men's ties, and socks

Casler-Alton Co., Cleveland, OH. Illustrated Catalogue and Price List of Store and Window Dressers’ Hardware, Display Fixtures and Stands, Mirrors and Store Stools, 1894, page 77, Hanging Window Fixture showing handkerchiefs, gloves, ties, and socks.

 

Just as today, the store of the late 19th Century might have had mirrors for the convenience of their customers. The Triplicate Mirror had a heavy carved oak frame with three French Plate Mirrors capable of pivoting. The mirrors measured 52 inches long and 22 inches wide. Because it had three mirrors, as many as three people could use it at one time or if positioned in a certain way, one person could use it to view different angles.

lady standing in front of a Triplicate Mirror

Casler-Alton Co., Cleveland, OH. Illustrated Catalogue and Price List of Store and Window Dressers’ Hardware, Display Fixtures and Stands, Mirrors and Store Stools, 1894, page 82, Triplicate Mirror.

 

Other store fixtures shown in this catalog include revolving racks, ribbon cases, hat stands, and even a cashier counter. Illustrated Catalogue and Price List of Store and Window Dressers’ Hardware, Display Fixtures and Stands, Mirrors and Store Stools (1894) by Casler-Alton Co. is located in the Trade Literature Collection at the National Museum of American History Library.

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