Grigg Block, North Fourth Street, Philadelphia


This advertising print from 1848 shows the business block named after John Grigg and containing Grigg, Elliot, & Company, the largest and most prosperous publishing firm in Philadelphia at the time. The firm was founded by John Grigg in 1823 and purchased by J.B. Lippincott in 1849. The print shows the block of buildings (10−20 North Fourth Street) covered in signage and including Barcroft, Beaver & Company, dry good dealers, and S.M. Day, wholesale combs, brush and fancy goods trimmings (both at number 10). Next come Goff & Peterson, importers and manufacturers of saddlery and carriage and harness trimmings (number 12); Grigg, Elliot & Company (number 14); C.H. & George Abbott, dealers and importers of hardware and cutlery and C. Ahrenfeldt & Company, importers of toys and fancy goods (number 16); C.B. Lassell & Company, hats and caps, and Charles Wingate, dealer in shoes, boots, and palm-leaf hats (number 18); and Edwin & John Tams, importers and dealers of china, earthenware, and glass (number 20). Patrons exit and enter the various storefronts; delivery men haul, load, and remove goods from horse-drawn and push carts; laborers load goods into shop storage cellars and use a pulley to raise a large cask; store clerks inspect and open newly arrived packages on the sidewalk; a horse-drawn dust-settling machine passes in the street; and artisans and merchandise are visible in several of the shops' upper-floor windows. Partial views of the adjacent buildings and a nearby alley with a laborer and push cart are also visible. The print is by William H. Rease, the most prolific lithographer of advertising prints in Philadelphia during the 1840s and 1850s. Born in Pennsylvania circa 1818, Rease became active in his trade around 1844. 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, a listing in O'Brien's Business Directory indicates that by 1850 he had founded his own establishment at 17 South Fifth Street, north of Chestnut Street. After a partnership with Francis Schell that lasted from about 1853 to 1855, in 1855 he relocated his shop to the northeast corner of Fourth and Chestnut Streets, where, in addition to advertising prints, he produced certificates, views, maps, and maritime prints.

Last updated: September 2, 2015