John Bancroft, Jr., Soap and Candle Manufactory, 19 Wood Street between Second & Third Streets & Vine & Callowhill Streets, Philadelphia


George G. Heiss was a mid-19th century Philadelphia lithographer, who specialized in views of fire-fighting equipment. This print advertises John Bancroft’s soap and candle business on the 200 block of Wood Street, Philadelphia. Signs reading "Steam Soap & Candle Manufactory" and "John Bancroft Jr." adorn the factory (left) and smaller adjoining office building (right). A clerk writing in an account book stands at the doorway of the office in which another clerk is visible through a window. Near the adjacent arched alleyway to the rear courtyard a boy carries a box on his shoulder and laborers hoist boxes from a receiving window to the long Bancroft wagon parked on the cobblestone street. Boxes and molds are piled by the upper windows. The factory has a second arched alley, cellar doors, a fire insurance marker, and smokestacks spewing smoke. Heiss was born in Philadelphia in 1823. He exhibited at the Artists' Fund Society 1840−43 and was also known as a portrait painter. He worked closely with Thomas Wagner and James McGuigan’s lithography studio from 1847 until 1855, when he opened his own establishment at 213 North Second Street. From then until the early 1860s, he mainly lithographed and published views of fire-fighting engines for local volunteer companies. Heiss published The Illustrated National Alphabet illustrated with lithographs in 1865. He left lithography in 1868 and established an artists’ materials emporium at 25 North 11th Street, which he operated until about 1885.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

Wagner & McGuigan, Philadelphia


Title in Original Language

John Bancroft, Jr. soap and candle manufactory. No. 19, Wood St. betw. 2nd & 3rd Sts. & Vine and Callowhill Sts. Philadelphia.

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 print : lithograph ; 27 x 46 centimeters


  • Digital catalog number: POS 407


  1. Brannt, William T., A Practical Guide on the Manufacture of Soap and Candles, (Philadelphia: H.C. Baird & Co., 1888).
  2. Heiss, George G., Philadelphia on Stone Biographical Dictionary, Library Company of Philadelphia,

Last updated: September 2, 2015