M979.87.438 | Montreal.-Interior View of Messrs. Savage, Lyman & Co's Jewelry and Silverware Establishment, St. James Street.
Montreal.-Interior View of Messrs. Savage, Lyman & Co's Jewelry and Silverware Establishment, St. James Street.
1875, 19th century
Ink on paper - Photolithography
27 x 40 cm
© McCord Museum
Keywords: Architecture (8646) , commercial (1771) , Print (10661)
Keys to History
Contemporary illustrations and photographs help us understand how these new stores increased the appeal of consumption and introduced a whole new shopping experience. With a sumptuous decor and pleasing arrangement of a wide variety of goods, a warehouse was like a theatre attracting an elegant crowd. Shoppers took obvious pleasure in visiting salesrooms and showrooms, usually located on the second floor at the top of a grand staircase. It is likely that customers also appreciated the opportunity to see and be seen. Increasingly then, the practical functions of shopping were overlaid by contemplative and symbolic aspects.
This engraving from Canadian Illustrated News shows the interior of a Victorian-era warehouse store-the ground floor of Savage, Lyman & Co. on St. James Street.
Today, St. James Street is associated with banking and financial institutions. In the last century, it was also a busy shopping street, with elegant buildings highly sought after by high-end retailers.
In the 19th century, Savage, Lyman & Co. was one of the largest jewellery and silverware stores in Canada. For over 50 years, the company sold superb silver imported from the great English firms and placed orders with the most talented silversmiths in Montreal.
In 1875 one of Savage, Lyman & Co.'s employees was Henry Birks (1840-1928). A few years later, he opened his own business, which became Henry Birks & Sons in 1893.