The Original Barney’s New York


Inspired by yesterday’s post regarding old advertising in menswear, I dug up this old matchbook for Manhattan’s original Barney’s. I found this matchbook in the pocket of an antique overcoat that was dated 1905; the matchbook probably dates within a year of the opening of Barney’s original store in 1923. The coat came from a Hells Kitchen estate in which the family had owned the same apartment since 1903.

Today everyone is constantly on their phones and on the internet, and we are forced to watch a commercial before we watch an episode of Lost we missed on Hulu. And because everyone smoked at the turn of the century, clothing companies would hand out advertising matchbooks; a constant reminder where you could buy your next suit or overcoat. It was probably as easy to get away from matches in 1923 as it is to get away from cell phones today. Few of these matchbooks survived, so enjoy this little piece of fashion advertising history.


In keeping with the matchbook theme that designers of the past loved oh-so-much, and because I was out sick today, I present a 1940’s get well matchbook card. Yes, it’s Hallmark, and yes, they are real matches. Nothing says, “feel better” like playing with fire: Thanks Hallmark.


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