handsome signboard with a suitable
inscription. This he composed himself,
as follows : " John Thompson, hatter,
makes and sells hats for ready money?
with the figure of a hat subjoined. But
COMMERCIAL ART AND PHRASEOLOGY.
he thought he would submit it to his
friends for criticism and amendments,
if susceptible of any.
The first he showed it to thought
the word hatter tautologous, because
followed by the words " makes hats,"
which of themselves showed he was a
hatter. It was struck out. The next
observed that the word makes might
as well be omitted, because his custo-
mers would not care who made the
hats if good, and to their mind, they
would buy, by whomsoever made. He
struck that out also. A third said, he
thought the words for ready money
were useless ; as it was not the custom
of the place to sell on credit, every one
who purchased expected to pay. These
too were parted with, and the incrip-
tion then stood, " John Thompson sells
hats." " Sells hats ! " says his next
friend ; " why, who expects you to give
them away? What, then, is the use
of the word ? " It was struck out, and
" hats " was all that remained attached
to the name of John Thompson. Even
this inscription, brief as it was, was
reduced ultimately to JOHN THOMPSON,
with the figure of a hat subjoined.
Cabalistic Sign for an Alehouse.
THE keeper of a paltry Scotch ale-
house having on his sign, after his
name, the letters M. D. F. R. S., a phy-
sician, who was a member, or fellow, of
the Royal Society, asked him how he
presumed to affix those letters to his
name. " Why, sir," said the publican,
" I have as good a right to them as you
have." " What do you mean, you im-
pudent scoundrel ? " replied the doctor.
" I mean, sir," retorted the other, " that
I was Drum Major of the Royal Scots
Pleasant History of a Familiar Word.
SOME signboards have much of his-
tory connected with them. A slight
instance of this sort is as follows : Be-
fore the year 1730, the English publi-
cans sold to the thirsty souls of their
day three sorts of beer, which they
drew from different casks into the same
glass, and gave to this mixture the name
of half-and-half. The owner of one of
these resorts (history has handed down
the name), Horwood, wishing to spare
himself the trouble of performing this
task so constantly during the day, hit
upon brewing the beer which would
combine the qualities of all these beers.
To this compound he gave the name
of " Entire," which has adhered to it
till this day, at least on the signboards.
It was afterward christened " porter ',"
because principally drunk by that
Streets and Shop Signs in Canton.
THE streets of Canton present, to a
stranger, an extraordinary sight ; they
are very narrow, and hung about in all
directions with signs and advertise-
ments. Every shop has a large upright
board on each side of the door, usually
painted white, and on it, in red or
black letters, is inscribed a list of all
the articles sold. Other signs are hung
over the street, and some are fixed to
poles reaching from one side of the
street to the other. Many of these dis-
play puffing advertisements, such as
" This Old Established Shop," etc. ;
" The Refulgent Sign : Original Maker
of the finest quality of Caps," etc. ; " Can-
ton Security Banking Establishment;"
and " No two Prices at this Shop " is a
very common notification. The Chi-
nese writing looks very well in this
way; and being generally red letters
upon white, black upon red or yellow,
and blue upon white, the array of signs
presents a most gaudy and extraordi-
Ancient Pictorial Signboards.
IT became quite customary, in the
seventeenth century, among English
COMMERCIAL AND BUSINESS ANECDOTES.
traders, to have emblazoned some ani-
mal or object spreading upon the sign-
boards, in order more effectually to
catch the eye. In course of time, when
fancy became capricious, something
more grotesque or piquant was adopt-
ed, such as blue boars, black swans,
red lions, flying pigs, hogs in armor,
swans with two necks, and all such
queer skimble-skamble stuff. Then
there were multitudes of compound
signs, such as the fox and seven stars,
ball and neat's tongue, dog and grid-
iron, sheep and dolphin, pig and whis-
tle. These comical combinations seem
to have originated in the apprentice
quartering his master's symbol with
his own, like the combined but very
dissimilar arms of a matrimonial
heraldic alliance. Some curious in-
stances of this kind are given on
another page of this department of
In not a few instances which can
be traced to the ignorance of the peo-
ple, or the customary contraction or
abbreviation of speech these absurd
emblems became most ridiculously per-
verted. Thus, the Bologne mouth, the
mouth of the harbor of Bologne, in
France, became the " bull and mouth ; "
a noted traveller's inn in St. Martin's
lane, the Satyr and Bacchanals, became
the " devil and bag of nails ; " and the
praiseworthy legend or phrase, " God
encompasseth us? became, after being
many times mouthed over by vari-
ous provincialists, profanely metamor-
phosed into the " goat and cow passes."
These signs, which then projected into
the street at all lengths and angles,
where they swung from their elegant
and elaborately curled iron supports,
creaked to and fro, most hideously,
with every blast.
Joke upon a Boston Sign.
A SOLEMN-LOOKING fellow, with a
certain air of dry humor about the
corners of his rather sanctimonious
mouth, stepped quietly, one day, into
the well-known establishment of " Call
& Tuttle," Boston, and quietly re-
marked to the clerk in attendance,
"I want to turtle." "What do you
mean, sir ? " " Well, I want to tuttle :
noticed the invitation over your door,
so I l called? and now I should like
to tuttle ! " He was ordered to leave
the establishment, which he did, with
an assumed look of angry wonder, and
facetiously grumbling to himself, " If
they don't want strangers to ' call and
tuttle,' what do they put up a sign for,
calling 'em in to do it ? "
"Cotton is Quiet."
IN consequence of the snow, says
Punch, Liverpool was last week in a
state of isolation from the rest of the
world, there being no traffic by rail
or news by letter, and indeed nothing
by which any idea could be formed
of the doings or condition of the Liv-
erpoolians. Of course, indefatigable
efforts were made to open the com-
munication with the metropolis; but
all was in vain, for the ordinary electric
telegraph had got into a state of en-
tanglement through the ice and snow,
thus baffling all hopes of hearing any-
thing from Liverpool.
Bills were falling due in London, and,
were being dishonored for want of
" advice ; " commercial firms were fall-
ing into discredit, and all for want of
communication with the north; when
at last, after almost superhuman en-
deavors, it was announced that the
magnetic telegraph had succeeded in
bringing news from Liverpool. Every-
body rushed to the second edition of
the morning papers, to drink in the
long looked-for news, when public
curiosity was put in possession of the
fact, that by tremendous energy, a com-
munication had reached London,
bringing the news that " Cotton is
quiet." We cannot judge of the effect
of this intelligence on the commercial
COMMERCIAL ART AND PHRASEOLOGY.
world, but, to us, it seems as though
the result of the telegraphic achieve-
ments had, after "much cry," ended
in " little wool " though there might
be a fair supply of cotton.
We had no idea that the condition
of this raw material was of such vital
consequence as to make it paramount
to every other subject of curiosity.
We shall, however, henceforth, look
out for the bulletins about cotton with
unprecedented anxiety and interest.
If we can only be assured by the paper
on our breakfast table that " cotton has
had a quiet night and is better," we
shall have all our mental trepidations
soothed, and shall even be contented
with the knowledge that " cotton is
not worse " or worsted.
Stock Terms in the Sickroom.
M. DE CHIRAC, a celebrated physi-
cian, had bought some joint-stock
shares at what proved an unlucky
period, and was very anxious to sell
out. The stock, however, continued
to fall for two or three days, much to
his alarm. His mind was filled with
morbid concern in regard to the sub-
ject, when he was suddenly called
upon to attend a lady who im-
agined herself unwell. He arrived,
was shown up stairs, and at once felt
the lady's pulse. "It falls! it falls!
good God ! it falls continually ! " said
he musingly though audibly, while
the lady looked up in his face all
anxiety for his opinion. " Oh, M. de
Chirac," said she, starting to her feet
and ringing the bell for assistance, " I
am dying! I am dying! it falls it
falls it falls!" "What falls?" in-
quired the doctor in amazement. " My
pulse ! my pulse ! " said the lady ; " I
must be dying ! " " Calm your appre-
hensions, my dear madam," said M. de
Chirac, " I was speaking of the stocks.
The truth, is, I have been a great loser,
and my mind is so disturbed, I hardly
know what I have been saying."
THE following announcement of
facts, taken from a city advertising
column, may fairly be said to come
under the head of " phenomena extra-
ordinary." In one place it is announced
that there may be had " An airy bed-
room for a gentleman twenty-two feet
long by fourteen feet wide ; " the bed
room ought, indeed, to be airy, to ac-
commodate a gentleman of such tre-
mendous dimensions. Again, one may
read of " A house for a family in good
repair," which is advertised to be let
with immediate possession ; a family
in good repair meaning, no doubt, one
in which none of the members are at
all " cracked." Another oddity in this
line, is an announcement of there being
now vacant " A delightful gentleman's
residence ; " the " delightful gentle-
man " must be rather proud of his
delightful qualities, to allow himself
to be thus strangely advertised A
rare bit in this way, in addition to
the above morceaux, is an advertise-
ment offering a reward for " a large
Spanish blue gentleman's cloak, lost
in the neighborhood of the market."
The fact can easily be realized, of a
gentleman looking rather blue at the
loss of his cloak ; still there is some-
thing rather unaccountable in his
advertising the fact of his blueness in
connection with the loss of his gar-
Quack Advertisement Two Centuries
THAT great though not quite the
earliest progenitor of the newspaper
tribe, the London Gazette, of Nov.
16th, 1660, shows that the quack frater-
nity of that day were the first to avail
themselves of its pages to make known
their nostrums. It is really astonish-
ing to see what an ancestry some of the
quack medicines of the present day
have had. " Nervous powders," speci-
fics for gout, rheumatism, etc., seized
COMMERCIAL AND BUSINESS ANECDOTES.
upon the newspapers almost as early as
they were published. Here is a speci-
men of the above date rising two
hundred years ago which might still
serve as a model for such announce-
" Gentlemen, you are desired to take
notice, That Mr. ITieophilus Buckworth doth
at his house on Mile-end- Green, make and
expose to sale, for the publick good, those
so famous Lozenges or Pectorals approved
for the cure of Consumption, Coughs, Ca-
tarrhs, Asthmas, Hoarseness, Strongness of
Breath, Colds in General, Diseases incident
to the Lungs, and a sovereign Antidote
against the Plague, and all other contagious
Diseases, and obstructing of the Stomach :
and for more convenience of the people,
constantly leaving them sealed up with his
coat of arms on the papers, with Mr. Rich.
Lowndes (as formerly), at the sign of the
White Lion, near the little north door of
PauVs Church; Mr. Henry Seile, over
against S. Dunstan's Church in Fleet Street :
Mr. William Milward at Westminster Hall
Gate ; Mr. John Place, at FurnivaTs Inn
Gate in Holborn ; and Mr. Robert Horn, at
the Turk's head near the entrance of the
Koyal Exchange, Booksellers, and no others.
" This is published to prevent the designs
of divers Pretenders, who counterfeit the said
Lozenges to the disparagement of the said
Gentleman, and great abuse of the people.
Mercurius Politicus, Nov. 16, 1660."
Baking and Banking-.
A SAD blunder is mentioned by a
writer in " Harper's," showing that the
best signs do fail sometimes. He says
that old Mr. Spoon kept a cake and
beer shop in the village, and made a
fortune in the business, leaving his
money and the stand to his only son,
who has long been flourishing on his
father's profits, and turning up his nose
at the baking business as altogether
beneath a sprig of his quality. As
soon as the old man was fairly under
the sod, the rising son fitted up the
shop on the corner, put in a show
window, through which a heap of
bills and shining gold was seen, and
over the door he spread a sign in hand-
some gilt letters " BANKING HOUSE."
He was now in a new line, adapted to
his taste and genius. One day, as he
was lolling over the counter, a stranger
drove his horses close to the door, and
called out to the new broker : " I say,
Mister, got any crackers ? " Spoon (very
red and indignant) : " None at all ;
you've mistaken the place." "Any
cakes, pies, and things ? " " No, sir ! "
accompanied by a look intended as
an extinguisher. Stranger (in turn
getting red) : " Then what on airth
makes you have ' BAKIN' HOUSE'
writ in sich big letters over your door
for? Tell me that!" The difference
between " baking " and " bawking "
was not so great as young Spoon sup-
Questionable Sign for a Clothier.
A SIGN painter being called upon to
letter the front of a large general cloth-
ing establishment, finished one line
across the w r hole front thus :
" DEALER IN ALL SORTS OF LADIES' "
and finding 1 his ladder too long to
paint the next line, returned to his
house to get one of suitable length ;
but stepping unguardedly upon a
stone, it turned his foot up, spraining
his ankle, so that he could not finish
the lettering till the next day.
In the mean time, the people rea-
sonably enough stared at the new
sign, and many of them, knowing the
character of the man to be strictly in
keeping with that of a good husband,
father, and citizen, it was certainly un-
accountable ; as " all sorts of ladies,"
in a city like New York, comprised
commodities at their antipodes, the
best and worst on earth.
The citizens made themselves busy
that day in surmises, scurrilous innuen-
does, and injurious quizzings ; which
could be hardly overcome when the fin-
COMMERCIAL ART AND PHRASEOLOGY.
ishing lettering, '''and Gentlemen's ready-
made Clothing," was at last added.
Out of Style.
ONE of the most eminent painters
of signs, in London, was Mr. Wale,
one of the founders of the Royal Acad-
emy, and who was appointed the first
professor of perspective in that institu-
tion. The most notable of his achieve-
ments in signboards, was a whole
length of Shakspeare, about five feet
high, which was executed for and dis-
played at the door of a public house,
at the northwest corner of Little Russell
street, Drury Lane. It was enclosed in
a sumptuously carved gilt frame, and
suspended by rich ironwork, the cost
being several hundred pounds. But
this splendid and costly object for at-
tracting trade did not hang long,
before it was taken down, in conse-
quence of the act of parliament which
was passed for removing signs and
other obstructions from the streets of
London. Such was the total change
of style and fashion, and the universal
disuse of such signs, that this costly
representation of the great dramatist
was sold for hardly more than its value
as oven wood, to a broker, at whose
door it stood for several years, until it
was totally destroyed by the weather
and various accidents.
SEVERAL years ago, and soon after
the " anti-license law " went into force
in the Green Mountain State, a traveller
stopped at a village hotel and asked
for a glass of brandy. "Don't keep
it," said the landlord; "forbidden by
law to sell liquor of any kind." " The
deuce you are I " retorted the stranger
incredulously. " Such is the fact,"
replied the host ; " the house don't
keep it." " Then bring your own
bottle," said the traveller, with decis-
ion ; " you needn't pretend to me that
you keep that face of yours in repair on
water." The landlord laughed heartily,
and his " private " bottle, advertised so
well in his phiz, was at once forth-
coming. No mere decanters or arti-
ficial signs were needed in his case.
Class Advertisements in City Papers.
BOTH in Europe and the United
States there are newspapers which are
distinguished by class advertisements.
The London Times, in its multifarious
announcements, may be said to have
no speciality in this respect. But the
Morning Post, of the same city, almost
exclusively monopolizes the advertise-
ments which relate to fashions and
high life ; the Morning Advertiser, the
organ and property of the liquor ven-
dors, obtains the lion's share of what-
ever pertains to that craft ; the Morning
Herald, even yet, though its circulation
is greatly reduced, contains a goodly
array of auction sales of property ; the
Era, and Sunday Times contain a ma-
jority of theatrical advertisements;
the Shipping Gazette chronicles the
times, rates, and ports of departure, for
the commercial marine ; Bell's Life is
devoted to the sporting fraternity ; the
Athenaeum has the principal portion
of the book advertisements and so
on, through an extensive series.
In the city of New York, the Herald
and the Sun may be said to engross the
greater part of the " wants " and
"boarding" advertisements; the Tri-
bune and Evening Post have a consid-
erable proportion of the literary and
real estate announcements ; the Courier
and Enquirer, or the World, is a favor-
ite organ of the auctioneers ; the Jour-
nal of Commerce, Commercial Adver-
tiser, and Express, have their full share
of the shipping notices; the Daily
Times engrosses a liberal share of the
banking and financial advertisements ;
and the other dailies and weeklies
combine, more or less, all these varie-
COMMERCIAL AND BUSINESS ANECDOTES.
being considered the
medium of any one kind in particular.
First Advertisement in America.
THE first newspaper in America
(with the exception of a solitary copy
issued in 1690), the "News Letter,"
published in Boston, Sept. 24th, 1704,
contained a notice by the publisher,
inviting advertisements; and in the
succeeding number, May 1st, 1704, was
one response i\\& first newspaper adver-
tisement in America, as follows :
"Lost on the 10. of April last, off Mr.
Sbippens's Wharf in Boston, Two Iron An-
vils, weighing between 120 and 140 pound
each : "Whoever has taken them up, and
will bring or give true intelligence of them
to John Campbcl, Post-Master, shall have a
The charges for advertising then, as
given in the first number of the " News
Letter," were to be " at a Reasonable
Rate, from Twelve Pence to Five Shil-
lings, and not to exceed : Who may
agree with John Campbel, Post-master
Compare the above with the seven
solid columns which sometimes consti-
tute a single advertisement in city
newspapers at the present day !
"Punch " on Commercial Phraseology.
IN the intelligence from the Brazils,
last week, we met, says Punch, in one
of the papers, with the following curi-
ous paragraph : " Dry Germans opened
at 59^ reals, but declined to 58 for
half ox, half cow, and 60 for ox, this
quotation being merely nominal."
The above is a complete mystifica-
tion. Of course, in our travelling ex-
periences, we have met with many
"dry Germans," but we little sus-
pected that they ever formed an article
of commerce. Besides, who could
wish to purchase a " dry German " ?
Then the question arises, how do you
dry a German ? After this, comes the
further mystery of Ms being " opened."
It is rather undignified to talk in this way
of a " dry German," as if he were no bet-
ter than a dried haddock, or a cured her-
ring, or a Teutonic mummy, that had the
accumulated dust and cobwebs of cen-
turies upon him. However, we are so
far pleased as to notice that " dry Ger-
mans " fetch so good a price in the
" dry goods " market, we suppose. It
is more than ice should feel inclined to
give for such a specimen of dried meta-
physics and transcendentalistic Kant-
But another puzzle that bewilders us
still more is the revelation that your
" dry German " is " half ox, half cow."
"We have heard of the multifarious
nature pertaining to an Irish lull, and
of a vache Espagnole, and of other
curiosities belonging to the animal
kingdom ; but we must confess that
such an ethnological specimen as a
" dry German," who was at the same
time " half ox, half cow " having the
head of an ox and the tail of a cow,
perhaps never, fortunately for us,
crossed our scientific path before. We
are so mystified that we must write to
Prof. O. on the subject, though it looks
very suspiciously as if Barnum, under
a strong attack of " animal " spirits,
had had a hand in stitching this new
hybrid together, for the enrichment of
his Museum. However, our Foreign
Office, that always evinces such a
strong sympathy for German interests,
should take the matter up. If slavery
is abolished, why, we want to know,
are " dry Germans " thus offered pub-
licly for sale ?
Dialects of Different Trades.
EVERY trade has its own peculiarities
and its own dialect. Stage drivers and
hostlers have a language of their own.
Hod carriers and masons always speak
understandingly to each other, if not
to strangers. Thieves and gamblers
have their own phrases, and house-
COMMERCIAL ART AND PHRASEOLOGY.
breakers their signs ; all of which is as
unintelligible to the uninitiated as so
Drygoods dealers and grocers have
a language of their own. In speaking
of the standing of a countryman, they
often say he is good they have sold
him, or are going to sell him which
means, not that they have sold him
for a price, but that they have trusted
him with a certain amount of goods.
They are never heard to say they have
bought him. So at auction sales they
have signs ; if they want to bid two
dollars a dozen for a box of gloves, or
two dollars apiece for a box of ribbons,
they hold up two fingers; and if a
business man is in an omnibus and
wants the driver to take pay for one,
when he hands up a quarter he will
hold up one finger to him, while a law-
yer or mechanic will bawl out, u One
take out one, one, ONE."
Grocers talk about things in their
trade being heavy, hard, quick, slow,
and easy. Thus feathers may be heavy,
cotton down, pork slow, beef quick,
oranges flat, &c.
Brokers have, like all others, a lan-
guage of their own. Thus, " b 3 "
means that the buyer has the privilege
of taking the stock any time within
three days; "b 30," within thirty
days. If, for instance, A buys one
hundred shares of Canton, of B, b 30,
he can call upon B to-morrow, or next
day, or next week, or whenever he
chooses, for the stock, and B must
deliver it. " S 30 " means the seller
has the privilege of delivering it at
any time he chooses within thirty
days. The seller is always entitled to
interest on stocks sold on time.
"Thwk" means this week; " nwk,"
next week; " opg," opening of the
transfer books, which are closed for the
time to make dividends.
Trade Placards and Shop Bills.
NOTWITHSTANDING the frequent an-
nouncement to be met with, " Stick no
Bills? bills are stuck somewhere, every-
where, and the trade of the bill-sticker,
though not down in the cyclopaedias
of commerce, is such as makes him a
definite, genuine, distinct character
one who keeps alive other trades and
who may also be said to live in the eye
of the public as literally as any other
man of his day. If not a literary man,
he may at least rank as a commercial
publisher, largely patronized by almost
There is one singularity in the fol-
lower of this profession, which to many
is a mystery that he invariably pastes
over his bills on both sides; having
stuck them to the wall or boarding,
he is not content with that, but imme-
diately gives them a coat of paste on
the outer and printed side as well.
This, which appears to others a sheer