Flags & Banners

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There are many artifacts used by earlier generations to meet their daily needs. Agricultural equipment, medical and scientific tools, such as surveying compasses, an orrery by Aaron Willard, Jr., and Civil War medical kits are just a few examples. Signs and flags [pdf] of all sorts advertised local businesses and showed patriotic fervor.

Signs Preserved
The lettering of three metal signs advertising local nineteenth-century businesses was quickly disappearing and becoming unreadable.  That is until now.  With funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, these signs received conservation treatment to retard the flaking and to enhance the lettering.

The signs don’t look new on purpose.  Our goal is to retain as much of the original material as possible.  In addition, some necessary conservation steps are almost invisible.  In photographs you wouldn’t be able to see how much the surface design was flaking nor the reversible coating that was added to keep it in place.  The choice to keep the weathered overall appearance reminds us that these signs come from a time gone by.

One sign advertised daguerreotypes by George Pyle (1821-1888).  Pyle grew up on the family farm in West Marlborough Township and became a teacher.  His interests in chemistry and mathematics no doubt led to his study of this first affordable photography form with John Mayall of Philadelphia in 1846.  Philadelphia was a center for several photographic chemistry advances.  Pyle became an itinerant photographer, working in Maryland, western Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana.  It was in Indiana that he encountered not only a cholera epidemic but also the arrival of daguerreotype studios in towns, thus putting itinerant photographers such as himself out of business.  By 1850 he returned to farming.  The Photo Archives contains his lesson book with lists of procedures and chemicals, his registration log for the daguerreotypes he created, and numerous examples of his daguerreotypes, part of one of the most important groups in the photo archives.  The museum also has his daguerreotype camera in addition to the sign.

To learn more about daguerreotypes and George Pyle, visit the Photo Archives page of this website.

The second sign advertised the law practice of James Bowen Everhart (1821-1888) of West Chester.  Everhart’s father William had a successful dry goods business and was able to purchase the Wollerton farm in the 1820s, now the southwest quadrant of West Chester borough.  William also built and operated the Mansion House Hotel within the borough.  His son James was able to obtain the best education that was available.  He studied at Bolmar’s Academy, in West Chester, graduated from Princeton College, as it was known at the time, and studied at Harvard Law School.  James was admitted to practicing law in West Chester and Philadelphia in 1845, then studied at the University of Berlin, and returned to his practice that incorporated a wide variety of cases.  One account notes that he was the first lawyer in Chester County to “make a motion in a divorce case that the husband be required to pay the costs of maintaining the suit of his wife….”  He served in the Civil War and raised two different companies of soldiers.  In 1876 duty to country called again.  James was elected as a Pennsylvania State Senator.  His nomination by the Republican Party took place in Horticultural Hall, the building in the CCHS complex that holds the exhibition galleries.  He held the senate seat until 1882 when he was elected to Congress.  James is also remembered as a poet, having published several volumes of his work.

To see additional signs for law offices, visit CCHS’s introductory gallery.

Daniel Husted (1799-1893) and his shoe and boot shop are remembered in the third sign.  He was born in Cape May, NJ, and when in his early 20’s, carried on the trade of tanning and shoemaking in Wilmington, DE.  By his mid-twenties he set up business in West Chester.  Numerous advertisements in the Daily Local News reveal a prosperous shoe and boot enterprise that was successful enough to employ nine people.  The business was moved to various locations within West Chester in its first ten years, each advertisement indicating that he is “prepared to finish all work with which he may be favored.”  In an 1839 advertisement for his Ladies and Gentleman’s Fashionable Boot and Shoe Manufactory, Husted states that everyone should visit his Gay Street business for fine footwear rather than travel all the way to Philadelphia.  The viability of his business is reinforced by the note at the end of the advertisement that reads “Two first rate journeymen wanted immediately on the Ladies Branch, to whom good wages and constant employment will be given; none others need apply.  Also, an apprentice wanted at the above business, of good moral habits between 15 and 16 years of age.”  He remained in business through the end of the 1800s.

To learn more about the many shoes we have in the museum collection, make an appointment to visit the museum.

Funding for this conservation project was provided by Institute of Museum and Library Services.