© 2011 New-York Historical Society logo

Guide to the S. S. Silver & Company Archive
1922-1957, undated
(bulk 1946-1956)
 PR 61

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 873-3400


© 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Jenny Gotwals

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on January 05, 2012
Description is in English.

Descriptive Summary

 
Title: S. S. Silver & Company Archive
Dates: 1922-1957, undated (Bulk 1946-1956)
Abstract: Photographs and some company documents from a Brooklyn-based interior design and store fixture company.
Quantity: 9.5 Linear feet (16 boxes)
Location note: Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections
Call Phrase: PR 61

Return to Top »


Historical Note

S. S. Silver & Company was formed in 1910 by Sol S. Silver (1885-1946). The company was located at 350-352 Butler Street in Brooklyn, and specialized in building and equipping commercial customers with new interior design displays. S. S. Silver & Company mainly dealt with businesses in the retail clothing trade, including specialty hat, shoe, and fabric stores as well as women's apparel. Among the other types of clientele served were restaurants, private residences, and business offices, primarily in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Sol Silver died in 1946 while playing golf with his son, Bertram. Bertram S. Silver (1907-1999), who had been a vice-president in the company, subsequently became president of the firm. Under his leadership, S. S. Silver & Company began to expand the customer base, increasing both the geographical area and the size of the typical establishment served. Beginning in 1946, Silver & Co. won contracts to design the interiors for renovations at two major New York City department stores, Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue. This led to further work designing displays and interiors for Saks Fifth Avenue's new stores in Beverly Hills, Chicago, and Detroit. The non-New York work attracted midwestern clients for Silver & Co., primarily larger department stores in Kansas City, Chicago, and Colorado Springs. Silver & Co. continued to be involved in smaller New York City-based store and office buildings and renovations.

Bertram Silver sought to raise the company's public profile by emphasizing publicity, writing many articles for trade publications, and advertising in the New York Times, among other periodicals. He emphasized a no-nonsense approach to retail design, one guaranteed to please his clients. In "Novelty Isn't Everything - Don't Overlook Prosaic," an article Silver wrote in June 1948 for Women's Wear Daily, he suggested that "â?¦ some of the more prosaic design elements, such as locking devices for fixtures, or thoughtfully-planned fitting rooms still can save headaches and make the difference in sales." Letters from satisfied clients (found in Series III) attest to their satisfaction with Silver & Co.'s design work.

In 1954, Bertram Silver moved from his West End Avenue apartment to a 65-acre estate in Newtown, Connecticut. S. S. Silver & Company was dissolved in 1960-1961. In 1968 Silver was named President and General Manager of the Lehigh and Leopold Division of Litton Industries.

Return to Top »


Scope and Content Note

The S. S. Silver & Company Archive spans the period from 1922 to 1957, with most photographs dating from 1946 to 1956, when the company was led by Bertram S. Silver. The collection primarily contains photographs documenting the company's interior design work for retail companies. Photographs highlight the custom fixtures and office furniture, as well as the use of new technology (innovative lighting techniques, plexiglass partitions) that were the firm's strengths. Major photographers included are Joseph Molitor (1907-1996), an architectural photographer, and Ben Schnell, another photographer of interiors. The collection is divided into four series: Commercial Interiors; Residences; Company Records; and Publicity.

The majority of the collection consists of 8 x 10 inch photographs, generally black and white with some color, which are mounted on paper board. These were originally housed in thirty-nine numbered black binders, probably for publicity or archival purposes. However, photographs of the same store were not necessarily filed in the same binder, making it difficult to view all photos of one store at the same time. As the binders were not found to correspond to a chronological or other discernable order, the pages were disbound and filed alphabetically by store for ease of retrieval. Each page has been labeled on the verso with the original binder number and page number; a list of this original order also follows this finding aid. Three of the company's original binders have been saved and are housed at the end of the collection.

The collection also includes a folder of correspondence from satisfied clients, two scrapbooks of clippings and publicity material, and some early consultant reports on the company's structure and workflow. These materials document the inner workings and history of a commercial display and interior design firm.

Arrangement

  1. Series I. Commercial Interiors
  2. Series II. Residences
  3. Series III. Company Records
  4. Series IV. Publicity Scrapbooks

Return to Top »


Access Points

Subject Names

  • Molitor, Joseph W.
  • Schnell, Ben
  • Silver, Sol S.

Document Type

  • Correspondence
  • Floor plans
  • Manuals
  • Photograph albums
  • Photographic prints
  • Scrapbooks
  • Trade catalogs

Subject Organizations

  • Bergdorf Goodman (Firm)
  • Bernard, Ulmann Company
  • Kaufman's (Firm)
  • S. M. Frank & Co.
  • Saks & Company (New York, N.Y.)
  • Woolf Brothers (Firm)

Subject Topics

  • Department stores--United States
  • Display of merchandise
  • Dwellings--Interior views
  • Interior architecture
  • Interiors
  • Office buildings--Designs and plans
  • Showrooms

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Detroit (Mich.)
  • Kansas City (Mo.)
  • Manhattan (New York, N.Y.)
  • New York (N.Y.)

Return to Top »


Administrative Information

Provenance

Gift of Bertram S. Silver, 1982.

Access Restrictions

Open to qualified researchers.

Photocopying undertaken by staff only. Limited to ten exposures of stable, unbound material per day. (Researchers may not accrue unused copy amounts from previous days.) Researchers on site may print out unlimited copies from microfilm reader-printer machines at per-exposure rates. See guidelines in Reading room for details.

Use Restrictions

Permission to reproduce any Print Room holdings through publication must be obtained from:

Rights and Reproductions
The New-York Historical Society
Two West 77th Street
New York, NY 10024

Phone: (212) 873-3400 ext. 282
Fax: (212) 579-8794

The copyright law of the United States governs the making of photocopies and protects unpublished materials as well as published materials. Unpublished materials created before January 1, 1978 cannot be quoted in publication without permission of the copyright holder.

Preferred Citation

This collection should be cited as S. S. Silver & Company Archive, PR 061, Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections, The New-York Historical Society.

Related Material at the Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections

Other contemporaneous views of commercial interior design and display, as well as other photography by Ben Schnell, can by found in the Kim Hoffmann Photograph Collection (PR 077). The Bella C. Landauer Collection of Business and Advertising Ephemera (PR 031) also contains ephemera and publicity from department stores in New York City.

Return to Top »


Container List

Series I: Commercial Interiors

Scope and Contents note

Series I fills boxes 1 through 12 and forms the bulk of the collection. These photographs are all mounted on board, as described above, except for one folder of unmounted photographs of Bergdorf Goodman, and a spiral-bound notebook including a few photographs of a variety of stores. The Bergdorf photos are filed in with those from the albums. The notebook is filed at the end of the series.

Bergdorf Goodman, Bernhard Ulmann, Kaufman's, S. M. Frank & Company, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Woolf Brothers are represented by the largest numbers of photographs. Architectural plans for the Bergdorf Goodman renovations are also included in this series. Color photographs were taken of the Detroit Saks Fifth Avenue and the Kansas City Woolf Brothers jobs; these are noted in the box listing.

While most of the Silver & Co. work was for the garment trade, several other types of businesses are represented here. The offices of the law firm Strasser, Spiegelburg, Fried & Frank (now known as Fried, Frank) and the executive offices of Sterling Drug are represented. C & L Delicatessen, a midtown Manhattan restaurant, is also shown.

In general, these photographs are stark shots meant to show the new interiors and display cases. People appear only in a few images of Bergdorf Goodman (before renovation). Publicity and clippings from Series IV, as well as correspondence from Series III, were used to provide dates from some of these photographs.

The photographs are arranged alphabetically by company or store name, and then by city where necessary. The number of prints follows the name in parentheses.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 1 A. & J. Engel, Inc. (4 prints)
18 East 50th Street, New York, NY

General note

See also: Box 13, Folder 157

undated
Box: 1 Folder : 2 Addis Co. (3 prints)
Syracuse, NY

1944
Box: 1 Folder : 2 Adeline Shops (3 prints)
1018 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn, NY

undated
Box: 1 Folder : 3-4 Alexette Gloves (9 prints)
undated
Box: 1 Folder : 5-6 Alfreda, Inc (8 prints)
15 West 39th Street, New York, NY

General note

See also: Box 13, Folder 157

1946
Box: 1 Folder : 7-8 Arnold Constable (11 prints)
Fifth Avenue at 40th Street, New York, NY

1939
Box: 1 Folder : 9-10 Arthur Beir & Co. (9 prints)
57 Worth Street, New York, NY

1939
Box: 1 Folder : 11 Automatic Manufacturing Co. (7 prints)
Newark, N.J.

undated
Box: 1 Folder : 12 B. Blumenthal Co. (6 prints)
1372 Broadway, New York, NY

1939
Box: 1 Folder : 13-14 Bacmo Postman Corp. (7 prints)
244 Madison Avenue, New York, NY

undated
Box: 1 Folder : 15 Bergdorf Goodman, Perfume Department (2 prints)
746 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY

1951-1956
Box: 1 Folder : 15 Bergdorf Goodman, Shoe Department (3 prints)
746 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY

1951-1956
Box: 1 Folder : 16 Bergdorf Goodman, Sportswear Department (2 prints)
746 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY

1951-1956
Box: 1 Folder : 16 Bergdorf Goodman, Van Cleef & Arpels (2 prints)
746 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY

1951-1956
Box: 2 Folder : 17-20 Bergdorf Goodman, General (74 prints)
746 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY

1951-1956
Box: 2 Folder : 21 Bergdorf Goodman, Architectural plans for alterations
746 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY

1951-1956
Box: 2 Folder : 22 The Bermuda Shop (2 prints)
545 Madison Ave, New York, NY

1956
Box: 2 Folder : 23-27 Bernhard Ulmann Co., Inc. (28 prints)
1150 Broadway, New York, NY

1946-1947
Box: 2 Folder : 28 Best & Co., Inc. (3rd floor) (6 prints)
New York, NY

undated
Box: 2 Folder : 29-30 Black, Starr & Gorham (8 prints)
Millburn, NJ

1956
Box: 2 Folder : 31-32 Black, Starr & Gorham (10 prints)
New York, NY

1930-1956
Box: 3 Folder : 33 Black, Starr & Gorham (6 prints)
White Plains, NY

ca. 1948-1949
Box: 3 Folder : 34-35 C. & L. Delicatessen (10 prints)
2131 Broadway, New York, NY

undated
Box: 3 Folder : 36 Cherie, Inc. (2 prints)
887 Sixth Avenue, New York, NY

undated
Box: 3 Folder : 36 Christian Dior Shoes (1 print)
undated
Box: 3 Folder : 37 Collins & Aikman Corp. (7 prints)
200 Madison Avenue, New York, NY

undated
Box: 3 Folder : 38 Crescent Corset Co. (5 prints)
undated
Box: 3 Folder : 39 Delman Shoe Salon (8 prints)
Los Angeles, CA

1957
Box: 3 Folder : 39 Delman Shoe Salon (1 print)
New York, NY

1956
Box: 3 Folder : 40 Dieges & Clust (3 prints)
17 John Street, New York, NY

undated
Box: 3 Folder : 41-42 Dobbs (13 prints)
380 Park Avenue, New York, NY

1928
Box: 3 Folder : 43-44 Ducharne Fabrics (11 prints)
244 Madison Avenue, New York, NY

1945-1946
Box: 3 Folder : 45 E. T. Howard (6 prints)
New York, NY

undated
Box: 3 Folder : 46 Flah & Co. (5 prints)
Syracuse, NY

undated
Box: 3 Folder : 47 Fred Greenberg Dress Co. (5 prints)
New York, NY

1947
Box: 3 Folder : 48 Friedman's Shoe Store (5 prints)
1034 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn, NY (5 prints)

undated
Box: 3 Folder : 49 Friedman's Shoe Store (3 prints)
379 Knickerbocker Avenue, Brooklyn, NY

undated
Box: 4 Folder : 50 Futura Sales Company (6 prints)
210 Madison Avenue, New York, NY

1951
Box: 4 Folder : 51 General Shoe Corporation (6 prints)
Empire State Building, New York, NY

1956
Box: 4 Folder : 52-55 Georg Jensen (10 prints)
667 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY

1946-1947
Box: 4 Folder : 54 Ground Gripper(1 print)
310 Livingston Street, Brooklyn, NY

undated
Box: 4 Folder : 55-57 Hafner Associates (14 prints)
New York, NY

1946
Box: 4 Folder : 58-59 Hat Corporation of America (9 prints)
530 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY

1957
Box: 4 Folder : 60 Hudson Finishing Corporation (5 prints)
New York, NY

undated
Box: 4 Folder : 61 I. B. Cohen & Sons (6 prints)
New Rochelle, NY

undated
Box: 5 Folder : 62-63 Ideal Novelty Toy Company (11 prints)
New York, NY

undated
Box: 5 Folder : 64 John B. Stetson Company (5 prints)
475 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY

1954
Box: 5 Folder : 65 Julius Kayser & Co. (5 prints)
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY

undated
Box: 5 Folder : 66-71 Kaufman's (31 prints)
27 South Tejon Street, Colorado Springs, CO

1948
Box: 5 Folder : 72-73 Kenyon & Eckhardt Inc. (9 prints)
New York, NY

undated
Box: 5 Folder : 74 Knox the Hatter (4 prints)
452 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY

undated
Box: 5 Folder : 75 Knox the Hatter (4 prints)
161 Broadway, New York, NY

undated
Box: 5 Folder : 76 M. G. Peters & Bros. (4 prints)
480 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, NY

undated
Box: 5 Folder : 77 Masback Hardware (4 prints)
326 Hudson Street, New York, NY

1936
Box: 5 Folder : 78 Monique Bag Company (3 prints)
745 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY

undated
Box: 6 Folder : 79 Munsingwear, Inc. (3 prints)
New York, NY

1947
Box: 6 Folder : 80-81 Nat Lewis (9 prints)
1637 Broadway, New York, NY

General note

See also: Box 13, Folder 157

before 1947
Box: 6 Folder : 82-86 National Fabrics Corporation (27 prints)
1071 Sixth Avenue, New York, NY

undated
Box: 6 Folder : Physical Culture Shoe Store (3 prints)
2398 Broadway, New York, NY

undated
Box: 6 Folder : 88-89 Remond-Holland (9 prints)
244 Madison Avenue, New York, NY

1946
Box: 6 Folder : 90 Rhealee Hat Shop (6 prints)
408 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY

1940
Box: 6 Folder : 91-93 Rollins Company (13 prints)
Detroit, MI

General note

See also: Box 13, Folder 157

1947-1948
Box: 6 Folder : 94-95 S. M. Frank & Company, Inc. (9 prints)
2 East 54th Street, New York, NY

undated
Box: 7 Folder : 96-98 S. M. Frank & Company, Inc.(15 prints)
18 East 54th Street, New York, NY

undated
Box: 7 Folder : 99-100 Saks Fifth Avenue (9 prints)
Beverly Hills, CA

1947
Box: 7 Folder : 101-102 Saks Fifth Avenue (7 prints)
Chicago, IL

undated
Box: 7 Folder : 103-106 Saks Fifth Avenue, Men's Shop (19 prints)
Detroit, MI

1946-1949
Box: 7 Folder : 107-109 Saks Fifth Avenue, Antoine Salon (16 prints)
Detroit, MI

1946-1949
Box: 8 Folder : Saks Fifth Avenue, Antoine Salon (cont.)(15 prints)
Detroit, MI

1946-1949
Box: 9 Folder : 110-115 Saks Fifth Avenue, General (31 prints)
Detroit, MI

1946-1949
Box: 9 Folder : 116-119 Saks Fifth Avenue, General (color photographs) (21 prints)
Detroit, MI

1946-1949
Box: 10 Folder : 120-121 Saks Fifth Avenue, General (color photographs) (cont.) (9 prints)
Detroit, MI

1946-1949
Box: 10 Folder : 122 Saks Fifth Avenue, Fabrics Salon (8 prints)
New York, NY

1943
Box: 10 Folder : 123 Saks Fifth Avenue, Jewelry Salon (4 prints)
New York, NY

1946
Box: 10 Folder : 124 Seal Sac, Inc. (6 prints)
6 East 39th Street, New York, NY

undated
Box: 10 Folder : 125 Sterling Drug (7 prints)
1450 Broadway, New York, NY

1951-1952
Box: 10 Folder : 126 Store Modernization Exhibit (1 print)
Grand Central Palace, New York, NY

1947
Box: 10 Folder : 126 Strasser, Spiegelburg, Fried & Frank (3 prints)
New York, NY

undated
Box: 10 Folder : 127-129 Treo Corset Company (13 prints)
200 Madison Avenue, New York, NY

1950
Box: 11 Folder : 130-131 Wamsutta Mills (8 prints)
Empire State Building, New York, NY

1951
Box: 11 Folder : 132-133 Wimmelbacher & Rice (8 prints)
244 Madison Avenue, New York, NY

undated
Box: 11 Folder : 134 Wm. Hahn & Company (1 print)
414 Ninth Street, Washington, DC

1922
Box: 11 Folder : 135 Woolf Brothers, Before Renovation (4 prints)
Wichita, KS

1948
Box: 11 Folder : 136-141 Woolf Brothers, After Renovation (33 prints)
Wichita, KS

General note

See also: Box 13, Folder 157

1948
Box: 11 Folder : 142-143 Woolf Brothers, Model of First Floor (10 prints)
Kansas City, MO

1947-1949
Box: 11 Folder : 144 Woolf Brothers, Second Floor Before and After Renovation (5 prints)
Kansas City, MO

1947-1949
Box: 11 Folder : 145 Woolf Brothers, Third Floor Before Renovation (4 prints)
Kansas City, MO

1947-1949
Box: 11 Folder : 146 Woolf Brothers, Shoe Department (5 prints)
Kansas City, MO

1947-1949
Box: 12 Folder : 147 Woolf Brothers, Exterior Views (3 prints)
Kansas City, MO

1947-1949
Box: 12 Folder : 148-155 Woolf Brothers, General (30 prints)
Kansas City, MO

General note

See also: Box 13, Folder 157

1947-1949
Box: 12 Folder : 156 Woolf Brothers, General (color photographs) (5 prints)
Kansas City, MO

1947-1949
Box: 13 Folder : 157 Notebook with assorted photographs
includes: A & J Engel Inc., Alfreda Inc., Nat Lewis, Rollins Company, Woolf Brothers, Wichita and Kansas City

1947-1949
Box: Folder : Three empty binders

General note

See: Box 16

Return to Top »


Series II: Residences

Scope and Contents note

Series II includes several interior images of four different homes. One is Sol S. Silver's residence on West End Avenue. Another belongs to Saul Brodsky, who was a business, and perhaps social, acquaintance of Silver. These images are all undated.

Photographs are filed alphabetically by inhabitant.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 13 Folder : 158 Brodsky, Saul, Residence (5 prints)
undated
Box: 13 Folder : 159 Dreitzer, Albert J., Residence (6 prints)
undated
Box: 13 Folder : 160 Lipson Residence (5 prints)
undated
Box: 13 Folder : 161 Silver, Sol S., Residence (3 prints)
336 West End Avenue, New York, NY

undated

Return to Top »


Series III: Company Records and Correspondence

Scope and Contents note

Series III spans the years from 1922 to 1954 and consists largely of letters from satisfied customers, some of which were used as publicity by Silver & Co. The series also includes a 1922 report from Raymond Bell Consulting on the organization of Silver & Co., a 1923 report from Cooley & Marvin Co. about a proposed rearrangement of Silver's manufacturing equipment; and a 1946 Silver Company manual.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 13 Folder : 162 Report from Raymond Bell Consulting
1922
Box: 13 Folder : 163 Report from Cooley & Marvin Co.
1923
Box: 13 Folder : 164 Company Manual
1946
Box: 13 Folder : 165 Correspondence, Letters of Reference
1922-1954

Return to Top »


Series IV: Publicity Scrapbooks

Scope and Contents note

Series IV. Publicity Scrapbooks contains two scrapbooks made with black kraft paper and post bindings. Newspaper and magazine clippings are pasted to each page, or are laid in to the scrapbook pages. Scrapbook One spans the years 1931 to 1952 and includes a variety of Silver & Company flyers, advertisements, specifications for potential customers, and newspaper and trade journal clippings. Publications such as Women's Wear Daily,  Display World,  Retail Management,  Lighting & Lamps,  Glass Digest, and  Handbags Illustrated are represented. The majority of the publicity here is for Silver & Co.'s midwestern jobs: Saks Fifth Avenue and the Rollins Company in Detroit, Kaufman's in Colorado Springs, and Woolf Brothers in Wichita and Kansas City. Scrapbook Two spans the time period from 1943 to 1956 and contains many newspaper clippings laid in. Silver & Co. ads that appeared in the  New York Times are pasted onto pages. The majority of jobs represented here are from the 1950s, such as Bergdorf Goodman and the John B. Stetson Company. A 1955 booklet put out by Silver & Co. called "Business Interiors: office, store, showroom" is also pasted in. It contains about twenty pages of illustrations and decorating tips, and was sent to potential clients.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 14 Folder : Scrapbook 1
1931-1952
Box: 15 Folder : Scrapbook 2
1943-1956

Return to Top »


Oversize Material

From Series I. Commercial Interiors

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 16 Folder : Three empty binders

Return to Top »


Return to Top »