Ritter Cotterell and Ritter, Wholesale Drug and Chemical Warehouse. Paints, Oils, Glass and Dye Stuffs. 132 North Third Street, Corner of Branch Street, Philadelphia


This advertisement from 1846 shows the four-story storefront of the wholesale drug and chemical warehouse for the firm Ritter Cotterell & Ritter, located on the 100 block of North Third Street in Philadelphia. Signs on the building advertise products, including "Wetherill & Co.'s Warranted Pure White Lead”; “indigo, madder, logwood, turpentine, linseed oil”; and “patent matches & American brimstone.” (White lead is a chemical compound made up of lead, carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen, historically used to make white paint. Indigo, madder, and logwood are all plant-based dyes. Brimstone is another word for sulfur.) In the image, a patron exits though one of three open entryways to the store; another patron is visible inside. Canisters and decanters fill the central display window and crates and barrels line the sidewalk in front of the building. At the side of the storefront, near the open cellar, a drayman stands by his horse that pulls a dray loaded with crates. A weather vane decorated with a fish adorns the roof of the building. The business operated as Ritter Cotterell & Ritter from this address around 1845–46. This illustration is by Matthias Shirk Weaver. Born around 1816, probably in New Holland, Pennsylvania, Weaver came to Philadelphia in 1838 to study art at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. To support himself, he worked as a lithographic artist, predominantly with printer Thomas S. Sinclair, drawing large Philadelphia business advertisements, portraits, membership certificates, book illustrations, sheet music covers, and maps. He left Philadelphia for Ohio in 1845, where he died of consumption (tuberculosis) in 1847. This print was produced by Sinclair, one of the premier Philadelphia lithographers of the 19th century.

Last updated: September 1, 2015