Earlier in August I reported that the defunct Gordon Novelty Shop had been unsheathed. For a brief, shining moment, we were able to enjoy that gorgeous facade once more. A commenter then tipped us to the fact that Gordon's demolition has begun--and a trip to the site confirmed that the death shroud has indeed been lowered.
This area just north of Union Square was once filled with novelty shops. If you scroll through microfilm images of those streets at the Municipal Archives, in the grainy shots you will see the word NOVELTY everywhere, along with: Balloons, Bingo Games, Favors, Party Hats, Bridge Prizes, and Souvenirs.
I imagine that walking through those streets, at mid-century, must have been like walking into the world behind the mesmerizing novelty ads in old comic books. Just looking at those pages could fire the imagination for untold hours.
Like "Appetizing," which I wrote about here, the word "Novelty" (and its plural "Novelties") is a rare find on a New York sign. Many have vanished, some remain.
Here is the Gordon storefront before it was gone.
The plural appears today on a floral supply shop in the Flower District, and probably doesn't refer to hand buzzers and whoopie cushions.
When Anthropologie moved into B. Shackman's favors and novelties shop on 5th Avenue, they left the plaque on the wall. It's still there, but the heavy wooden revolving door was removed. Shackman's, as I remember it, was also not the fake-vomit breed of novelty shop, but sold mostly dollhouse furnishings and greeting cards.
photo from kiminnyc's flickr
1932 catalog selling on Amazon
And here is a shot of Jimson's Novelty shop, vanished from 18th and Broadway sometime in the mid-1990s, if I remember right. There's a noodle or dumpling place, or something similar, there now.
photo: Jack Szwergold's flickr
Keep your eyes open for "Novelty." If you come upon this rare word in New York City signage, please add your shots to the Vanishing NY Flickr pool.