Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Gusky's Store and a Henry Altemus Publication

The four volume Shakespeare non series set was first published by Henry Altemus in 1891. Interestingly this set has been discovered with the Gusky Store of Pittsburgh imprint on the title page and Henry Altemus 1891 on the copyright page. With the exception of the imprint and the elegantly decorated end papers in the Altemus book, the four volume Altemus set is identical to the four volume Gusky set. It would appear that Altemus published this set for Gusky to sell in his store. Although I have seen some non-Altemus advertising in several other Altemus books, I have never seen a book that Altemus published for a department store. This is especially interesting considering that the Gusky set potentially could compete with the Altemus set. It is unclear at this time exactly what year the Gusky set was published (I assume in the early 1890’s) and what sort of deal the Gusky Store and Altemus had. Of note is that there are no books with the Gusky imprint listed for sale anywhere that I can find on the web.

J.M. Gusky (1845-1886) bought out a mercantile establishment called S. Cohen in 1882. He renamed it the Gusky Store. The Gusky Store is considered by most to be Pittsburgh’s first department store. The store occupied five stories and sold mainly a variety clothing. After Gusky’s death from pneumonia his wife owned the business and the De Wolf brothers managed it. By 1888 it had more than two million dollars in sales.

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