Sunday, November 30, 2014

Allan Melvill's New French Goods Store

Image Credit: Tea in a Teacup
In early October 1818 Allan Melvill advertised the latest in "fashionable French goods" for sale at his new store on Pearl Street. From the New York Evening Post:


No. 123 Pearl St. (up stairs) corner of Sloat-lane.
ALLAN MELVILL has imported by the late
arrivals from Havre, 60 cases choice and
fashionable French goods, selected by himself in
France expressly for this market; viz.
Florences, velvets, extra fine crapes and
Tulle laces.
Plain and pearl edged heavy lustring ribbons.
Soft satin and fancy garnitures do.
Rich raw silk, in imitation of real Cashmere
Embroider'd muslin bands, caps sad spensers
Superb embroidered robes for ladies and children
Linen cambrics and handkerchiefs
A large and elegant assortment of laces, footings
and edgings
Mecklin laces and black and white lace veils
Superior Courtray linens, lawns and sheetings
Habit and extra kid gloves
Silk hose; ostrich and fancy feathers
Flowers and wreaths
Ball dresses and trimmings
Rich ornamented combs, plush trimmings
Morocco ridicules with steel chains
Broad lustring ribbons for sashes
And a variety of other new, fancy and staple
articles, direct from Paris.
What in the world are Morocco ridicules? Aha, a ridicule is a reticule, a lady's purse.
1. (Clothing & Fashion) (in the 18th and 19th centuries) a woman's small bag or purse, usually in the form of a pouch with a drawstring and made of net, beading, brocade, etc.
--The Free Dictionary
Reticule / French / early 19th century
Image Credit:
Allan Melvill also promoted his new business establishment with a slightly different ad in the Albany Argus:

Albany Argus, October 27, 1818
At the time Allan and Maria Melvill had two young children, Gansevoort (b. December 6, 1815) and Helen (b. August 4, 1817). Herman their second son was born as everybody knows on August 1, 1819.


  1. "One of these little infants, that from certain queer tokens seemed hardly a day old, might have measured some fourteen feet in length, and some six feet in girth. He was a little frisky; though as yet his body seemed scarce yet recovered from that irksome position it had so lately occupied in the maternal reticule."

    (So that's where babies come from!)

  2. The Berkshire Athenaeum has a Bill of Lading for 27 July 1818 for 45 cases and bales of merchandise for the account of Allan Melville and one bale for Peter Gansevoort and others on the ship Adonis in the port of Havre bound for New York.
    John Gretchko