N. Helverson, Undertaker, 93 Coates Street, Philadelphia


William H. Rease, born in Pennsylvania circa 1818, was the most prolific lithographer of advertising prints in Philadelphia during the 1840s and 1850s. This advertisement shows the office building and storefront for the undertaker and "Coffin Ware-House" at 93 Coates Street (later 225−27 Fairmount Avenue). A male patron enters the doorway of the office "N. Helverson Undertaker." A sign advertising "Coffins Ready Made" adorns the showcase window. A doormat covers the small step preceding the entrance and the cellar doors to the building are open. In the right, a woman appears interested in a display at the adjacent store, which is out of view. At the warehouse, workers haul coffins near the open doorway of the four-story building. A sign illustrated with a coffin is displayed in the first-floor window and workers are visible at two open windows above. A tree stands in front of the building and two horses hitched to a hearse parked in the street stand in its shade. The hearse is adorned with bunting, drapery, and fringe. Rease became active in his trade around 1844, and through the 1850s he mainly worked with printers Frederick Kuhl and Wagner & McGuigan in the production of advertising prints known for their portrayals of human details. Although Rease often collaborated with other lithographers, by 1850 he promoted in O'Brien's Business Directory his own establishment at 17 South Fifth Street, above Chestnut Street. In 1855 he relocated his establishment to the northeast corner of Fourth and Chestnut Streets (after a circa 1853−55 partnership with Francis Schell), where in addition to advertising prints he produced certificates, views, maps, and maritime prints.

Last updated: September 2, 2015