Wednesday, October 15, 2014

B. Shackman's

In 2010, I did a little post on the word "novelties," and about how it's been vanishing from the cityscape. In the post, I mentioned Shackman's, a toy store long on 5th Avenue and 16th Street, since replaced by the Anthropologie clothing chain.

photo by Ed Sijmons, flickr

I'd not been able to find any photos of the old shop. But then Ed Sijmons of Amsterdam got in touch to share some wonderful shots he'd taken of Shackman's on a trip to New York back in 1980.

photo by Ed Sijmons, flickr

Shackman's had been selling toys and gifts since 1898. The "B" in B. Shackman stood for Bertha, who was killed by a car on Amsterdam Ave. in 1925.

photo by Ed Sijmons, flickr

You can still find a number of vintage Shackman items on Etsy--paper dolls, miniatures for doll houses, dolls, and cards.

photo by Ed Sijmons, flickr

You can also see many more shots of Mr. Sijmon's 1980 trip to New York on his Flickr page.


C.L. Rogers said...

What year did it close? Also Jeremiah, read your older post on Gordon's Novelty. I remember trying to go in there around 1992 when I worked nearby. There was always a guy on a stool behind a rope and he always told me that it was closed to the public. Was there another entrance, I think he told me that it was for costumes only?

malsperanza said...

Shackman's was a marvel. They shipped their items all over the USA. I used to buy their dollhouse miniatures as a child in Chicago. When I moved to NYC it was a thrill to discover that there was a real store. I worked on 5th Ave. and 17th Street and stopped in at Shackman's all the time.

There was a wooden floor, and floor-to-ceiling shelves of tiny oddities - like the Sheep's shop in Alice in Wonderland.

Anonymous said...

Shackmans! Thank you for this memory.

Actually, I remember a series of stores, (smaller than Shackmans) that contained all kinds of charms and findings for fantasy toy-scapes and Swiss Villages. This was on the edge of the great fabric district a little further uptown and westerly. Buttons, bows, beads, string, feathers, oddities---store after store. Some of these were still there several years ago. (Note to self---go see them before they vanish.)

But Shackmans was the best and had a mail order business too. Therapists loved it for stocking their sand trays.

BaHa said...

Kitty Cucumber!

onemorefoldedsunset said...

I loved Shackman's! When my kids were little it was a real treat to take them in there - to maybe get a piece of tiny furniture for the dollhouse, or a paper animal mask. I remember the very expensive stuffed animals kept behind glass that we couldn't possibly afford but liked to look at. It was a treasure house.

Anonymous said...

Shackmans was such a great store. I used to buy my Christmas presents there since they had such one-of-a-kind gifts and novelties. My gift of a Christmas Nativity display w/ all the requisite animals and shepherds still finds a prominent place in my sisters home during the holidays thirty years later. Such a loss. I wouldn't set foot in a Restoration Hardware store, however.

Liza D. said...

I LOVED B. Shackman's growing up! They used to have lots of dollhouse furniture there, when my childhood bff, Lisa, & I were majorly into trying to build a dollhouse for our Sunshine Family dolls (and their assorted doll kin folk). I spent *many* a Christmas and birthday gift checks there for several years! Still miss it.

Anonymous said...

My first real job was at Shackman's, in the mid-1970s. A bunch of us from my neighborhood, and friends, provided much of the order picking crew in the back, for the mail order department. The toys were fun, the vintage notecards and publications (Merrimack) interesting, but the doll house furniture and furnishings were the coolest thing. Teeny marble top bureau with working drawers! Wallpaper! And great people to work for!

Anonymous said...

The company B. Shackman still exists! They still sell to stores all over the world. You can find many of their products on their website (

Donna H said...

I sell over 100 Shackman items on Etsy and eBay. I love vintage art, paper, ephemera, and photo's. I do pretty well with this line. It's a look into a simpler time like when everyone was 'gay'. The term is used in many of the greetings on the product. LOL I am listed as circa1959 on eBay and easily sent on Etsy.

Elise said...

Hello! I live in California and enjoy collecting all sorts of interesting pieces of ephemera. I recently bought two cute B. Shackman Kitty Cucumber tin boxes. Being into origin stories and whatnot, I'm wondering what-all the lovely people in this thread might be able to tell me about the Kitty Cucumber imprint. Why, for starters, is s/he called Kitty Cucumber? Was s/he based on a real kitty? Whatever info you have to provide would be awesome. Many thanks!