Joseph Ripka's Mills. Manayunk, 21st Ward, Philadelphia. Manufacturer of All Description of Plain and Fancy Cottonades for Men and Boy's Clothing. Warehouse at 32 South Front Street


This advertising print from 1856 depicts the compound of large mill buildings belonging to Joseph Ripka's textile-manufacturing business, situated between the east bank of the Schuylkill River and the Manayunk Canal. The textile village of Manayunk was then the 21st ward of the city of Philadelphia. The rural scene on the hills in the background is dotted with trees and buildings. The text at the bottom describes the firm as a “manufacturer of all descriptions of plain and fancy cottonades for men & boy's clothing” and notes that the Ripka warehouse is located at 32 South Front Street. Erected in 1831 and 1835, Ripka’s mills were part of one of the largest textile businesses in the United States at that time. From the 1840s to the mid-1850s Ripka sometimes had more than 1,000 workers. During the Civil War, the shrinking Southern demand for cottonades caused Ripka to file for bankruptcy. Ripka died in 1864. 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.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

Printed by Wagner & McGuigan, Philadelphia

Title in Original Language

Joseph Ripka's mills. Manayunk 21st Ward Philadelphia. Manufacturer of all description of plain and fancy cottonades for men & boy's clothing warehouse 32 So. Front St.

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 print : lithograph ; 39 x 64 centimeters


  • Published in G. Woolworth Colton, Colton's Atlas of America, Illustrating the Physical and Political Geography of North and South America and the West India Islands.... Commercial edition with business cards of prominent houses in Philadelphia. (New York: J.H. Colton and Company, 1856), page 77.
  • Digital catalog number: POS 418

Last updated: September 2, 2015