Misfit Parlors, 4 Hayward Place, Boston

Misfit Parlors tc1

Misfit Parlors tc2

“Misfit Parlors. No. 4 Hayward Place, Boston.” 

A very similar card for this establishment (with moon and dog) was found online as having been sold at auction; hence the heavy watermarks on ours above. But what a beauty, with the winking moon, the sky colors, and the little white dog! The reverse side advertises their price listing for custom-made pants and overcoats, and includes the lovely phrasing:

“High Art and Elegant Garments in Silk and Satin Lined Overcoats and Ulsterettes, rendering a most opportune chance to secure….A $50.00 Custom-Made Overcoat for  – – – $20.00…..”  

“Recollect, every Garment bears the name of the Tailor.”

“Misfit Parlors. Private House, 4 Hayward Place, Near Globe Theatre, 3 doors from Washington St.   Open evenings till 9 o’clock; Saturday, till 11 P.M.”

A want ads posting in the Boston Post dated September 10, 1892, finds the Boston Misfit Clothing Company located just down the street, at 26 Hayward Place. (Newspapers.com)

Misfit Ad

In checking city directories for both the addresses, it would appear that the Misfit Clothing Company may not have been long in operation. Various individuals show at the Hayward Place addresses in the 1880s and 1890s, under a variety of occupations, so it would seem there was a high turnover for tenants. This fact, along with the above ad being in the want ads, probably indicates the proprietor didn’t have a lot of money to spend on advertising, and was not doing well enough to continue for very long, or perhaps just moved on to something he or she liked better.

The phrase “misfit clothing” seems to have been one used back in the day. Another ad for a tailor (unrelated to the trade card company) advertised in the 1880 Fall River, Mass city directory,  “Misfit clothing altered to perfect fit.” 

A parlor is not always a brothel….

The very similar card (mentioned at the beginning of this post) that we found online as having been sold at auction, was described as advertising a brothel. And one can see how the use of the word “parlors” could invite this interpretation, but really without any records found to back up this claim, or even stretching it, as if the clothing store was a “front” or something….well, you can do the math.

Trade Card. Circa 1892.      Selling price:  To be determined. Please contact web owner if interested.     Size:  About 5 and 1/8 x 3 and 1/8″

Sources:  Boston Post. 10 September 1892. Saturday, p. 7. (Newspapers.com.)

Ulster coat. n.d. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ulster_coat. (accessed November 8, 2015).

Sampson, Davenport & Co.’s Fall River Directory, 1880, Vol 14. p. 526. (Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1989.)

Wilmot’s Clothing House Trade Card

Wilmots Clothing Trade Card tc1Wilmots Clothing Trade Crd tc2

Victorian Era trade card, Boston, circa 1885.

Size:  About 4 and 1/2 x 2 and 5/8″

Price:  $15.00

Cheap Suits On Newspaper Row

Wilmot’s, at the time this trade card was printed, was located at 259 and 261 Washington Street; this was next door to the location for the newspaper publication the Boston Herald; the Herald’s address being part of Washington Street’s “Newspaper Row.” It looks like this card was saved for the charming image on the front, since it had been, in all likelihood, glued in a scrapbook; it’s removal from which caused the print to be missing in the four corners. This makes the full company name, that would have appeared at the top, hard to figure out, as there are definitely more than a few possible letter combinations. But whoever they were, they had the misfortune to have needed to declare bankruptcy, and Wilmot’s must have bought part or all of their remaining stock. Imagine buying a man’s suit for as low as $2.98 and boy’s suit for as low as 90 cents! (I know, inflation, inflation, but a 90-cent suit is just so funny-sounding.) The Herald’s six-story structure was built in 1877-1878, and their address was 255 Washington Street in Boston. Though the prior location for the Herald had been in close proximity to their new address, it’s more likely that, at the time this card was printed, Wilmot’s was located next door to the Herald’s more recent one at 255 Washington St. The Herald’s address is a great help in dating the card, but we find that we can narrow it down a little further below.

H. B. Wilmot

It turns out that Wilmot’s got it’s name from owner H. B. Wilmot. Below shows the full page ad from an 1872 Cambridge city directory showing the business name as H. B. Wilmot & Co. An earlier 1870 Boston directory shows the same name and address. Other years (1880-1886) show addresses in Salem, Lynn, Lawrence and Taunton. In the 1885 Boston, under Wholesale Clothing, we see the 261 Washington St. address, so this trade card is likely from this year or close to it. Manager names Joseph W. Rice (Lawrence 1881), J. F. Boynton (Salem 1880) and H. C. Reed (Taunton 1881) also show in directories under Wilmot’s, so it looks like there were several locations running at one time. And from at least 1884-1913, H. B. Wilmot had a summer home in Gloucester, with the latter part of those years, showing a regular residence in Somerville, outside of Boston. It seems, from looking at all these city directories, that H. B. Wilmot had a very successful career in the clothing business.

H B Wilmot & Co Ad

On the Front

I suppose this is a lithograph though I am really not sure. But as far as the wonderful artwork we see here: Was the image supposed to be of two ladies, one of whom pushes a baby in a carriage, or is it an image of two little girls, dressed in adult-like fashion, one of whom pushes their dolly in a carriage? From the short hemlines we see here, I would guess that these two are little girls, otherwise it would seem that the hems would have been at, or much closer to, the ground. I love the way we see the profile of the girl on the left (love the parasol) who gazes dreamily off into the distance; contrasting to the girl on the right, contentedly pushing the carriage and concentrating on the path ahead.

Sources:  The Boston Herald and It’s History by Edwin A. Perry. Published Boston, Mass., 1878. (Google eBooks)


Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

Ancestry.com. Gloucester, Massachusetts Directories, 1888-91 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2003.

The Lawrence Directory 1881, No. XIV. By Sampson, Davenport & Co., Publishers of the Boston Directory, Boston Almanac and Business Directory, New-England Business Directory, Etc. Office, 155 Franklin Street, Boston. Lawrence:  W. E. Rice, 265 Essex Street. Page 252. (Google eBooks)