Dickson and Company. Watches, Fine Cutlery, Jewelry


This print from around 1840 is an advertisement for Dickson & Company, located at 14 North Fifth Street (on the corner of Commerce Street and between Market and Arch Streets) in Philadelphia. A sign over the side doorway of the five-story building proclaims "Dickson and Co. Importers of Watches Clocks Jewellery & Plated Ware." Merchandise, particularly plated ware and tea kettles, is visible in the large display windows of the storefront building, as well as on shelves inside the store, seen through an open doorway. Crates are piled on the sidewalk at the corner, and a horse-drawn dray passes by in the street. Dickson & Company was renamed from Dickson & Harper in 1840. The business operated from 5th and Commerce under the new name until 1841. This print is by Thomas S. Sinclair, one of the premier Philadelphia lithographers of the 19th century, particularly in the field of chromolithography. Sinclair was born around 1805 in the Orkney Islands of northern Scotland, and trained in lithography in Edinburgh. He immigrated to the United States around 1830 and worked in New York and later Philadelphia, where, as noted in the 1850 census, he and his wife Magdalena had nine of their ten children. After settling in Philadelphia, he worked at the lithographic shop of John Collins before assuming the establishment and starting his own firm at 79 South Third Street. A practical lithographer throughout his career, Sinclair produced all genres of lithographs, including maps, advertisements, city and landscape views, sheet music covers, portraiture, political cartoons, certificates, and book illustrations.

Last updated: August 19, 2015