Joseph Loth & Co.

back  Joseph Loth & Co., 1818-1838 Amsterdam Ave., between 150th St. & 151st St., New York, NY, 2011   next

This building inscription is completed on a back portion of the property reading Silk Ribbons.

A sign with the Loth trademark, Fair and Square, is found on the west-facing wall of the building along 150th St. At the bottom is the Loth slogan: "This Label is on the Best Ribbon Made."

Regarding Joseph Loth & Co., King's Handbook of New York, 1892, had the following to say, "Joseph Loth & Co., manufacturers of 'Fair and Square' ribbons, whose store is at 65 Greene Street, were the first business men to invade the historic locality at the northern end of Manhattan Island, known as Washington Heights; a locality that was the site of fortifications and military camps during the War of the Revolution, and which has been a residence section of the city for many years. Messrs. Loth and Company's factory occupies the block on Tenth Avenue between 150th and 151st Streets. It is a handsome structure of Philadelphia brick and granite, three stories in height, and is in appearance more like a public building than a factory. Good taste and a degree of public spirit were shown by the firm in so designing the outward aspect of their establishement as to avoid the prosiness of businss and keep in harmony with the surroundings. Messrs. Loth & Co. have been engaged in manufacturing 'Fair and Square' ribbons since 1875. Their present factory was erected in 1886, and they now employ some 600 operatives. They make fine goods only. They have never put any cheap grades upon the market, but such is the range and scope of their enterprise that the product of their establishment is of 14 different widths, 165 shades of color and from 80 to 90 styles. The trade-mark, 'Fair and Square,' is known in every corner of the United States. The uniform excellence of the goods has spread its fame far and wide, and this has been effectively supplemnted by a free and liberal use of printer's ink. This firm is the only manufacturer of ribbons which advertises extensively, and their announcements are striking and effective, as well as dignified, as every one whose range of reading is wide already knows. It is by means of its unique and liberal advertising that the firm keeps in touch with the public. It does not sell to the consumer. It comes in direct contact only with the trade, through the efforts of twenty-three salesmen, but such is the reputation of Joseph Loth & Co. and their 'Fair and Square' ribbons that the business has shown a steady and substantial growth from the beginning."

This building is a designated New York city landmark. The designation report (LP-1860), dated 21 Sept. 1993, includes the following, "Commissioned in 1885 by the Loth family of silk manufacturers ... the building was occupied by Joseph Loth & Company, a prominent firm that was in operation in New York City from about 1875 to 1902 and produced silk ribbon marketed under the trademark 'Fair and Square.'" (The report can be downloaded from the Neighborhood Preservation Center.)

Concerning the Loths the designation report includes, "The principals of Joseph Loth & Company were Joseph Loth (c.1827-1910) and his two sons, Bernard (1858-1921) and Henry A. (1861-1941). Joseph Loth established a fancy goods and notions business in New York City around 1858 and relocated his residence from Hartford, Connecticut, to the city around 1862. As a ribbon and fancy goods merchant, Loth would have been well aware of the changes in duties on imported silks, and soon joined in the new American industry of silk ribbon production which then dominated his business. Little is known about the role of Henry A. Loth in the firm other than in 1902 he moved the silk ribbon business to Connecticut where it continued.
"The older Loth son, Bernard, had interests that ranged from the technology of the silk industry to the development of the Washington Heights area. After attending City College and Columbia University, Bernard Loth practiced law in Utah for a few years. He returned to New York City during the early 1850s, perhaps bringing the enthusiasm, capital, and interest in the technical aspects of the business that prompted the expansion of the firm soon thereafter. Bernard Loth's interest in technology led to several trips abroad to study developments in the silk industry."

The founder, Joseph Loth (c.1827-1910), was first listed in New York city directories in 1857. At that time he was an importer and dealer in fancy goods in partnership with Ephraim Arnstein and Ignatz Hartman as Arnstein, Loth and Hartman at 14 John St. The same threesome were in business at 46 Warren St. in 1868. In 1870 Joseph Loth was listed in partnership with Ephraim Arnstein as Arnstein & Loth at 221 Church St. Trow listed Arnstein & Loth at 221 Church St. through 1875. In 1877 Joseph Loth "ribbons" was listed at 491 Broadway, then in 1878 Joseph Loth & Co., "manufacturers of Gros Grain and Segar Ribbons," appeared at 444 Broome St., on the corner of Broadway. On 7 Dec. 1882 the New York Times reported a fire at the "five-story building, No. 458 Broome-street, occupied by Joseph Loth & Co., manufacturers of silk ribbons." Joseph Loth & Co. were listed at 458 Broome St. from 1880 until 1883. In 1884 they moved to 65 Greene St.

Joseph Loth was recorded in the 1870 U. S. Census living at 212 E. 20th St., New York City. He was 43 years old and his occupation was "Yankee Notion Dealer." His family consisted of his wife, Fanny, age 35, two daughters, Matilda, 17, and Louise, 15, and two sons, Bernard, 12, and Henry, 9. Joseph and Fanny Loth were born in Austria. The children were born in Connecticut. Joseph Loth received the following death notice in the New York Times, 31 May 1910, "Loth - Joseph, beloved husband of Fanny Popper Loth, in his 83d year, on May 29, 1910. By his expressed instructions there will be no funeral ceremonies, other than the reading of the Masonic Ritual at his late residence, 519 West 150th St., at 8 P. M., Tuesday, May 31. Please send no flowers."

Robert Perlman in Bridging Three Worlds: Hungarian-Jewish Americans, 1848-1914, 1991, says, "Joseph Loth was an industrialist in New York, He knew the weaving trade when he arrived about 1849 and got a job in a carpet factory in Connecticut. He moved back to New York, entered the wholesale trade in dry goods, and later became a manufacturer of silk ribbons. Loth was active in philanthropy and in the beginnings of B'nai B'rith and of the American Jewish Historical Society."

Joseph Loth's early partner, Ephraim Arnstein (c.1822-1900), was recorded living in Hartford, Conn. in 1851. It may be that is where he met Loth. By 1866 Ephraim Arnstein seems to have been doing well. He was assessed taxes by IRS in that year totaling $827 based on an income of $10,500. In 1880 the U. S. Census recorded Ephraim Arnstein, age 58, born Bohemia, living at 321 Lexington Ave., New York City. On his death in 1900 the following notice appeared in the New York Times, "Ephraim Arnstein, a retired importer, of 314 West Eighty-third Street, died Saturday night at his home from heart disease. He was seventy-seven years old. He was formerly a member of the firm of Arnstein & Loth of Lispenard and Church Streets, importers of notions. He retired from business in 1875. Mr. Arnstein was born in Austria and had lived in New York forty-three years. He leaves a wife, four daughters, and one son."

Both of Joseph Loth's sons, Bernard Loth (1858-1921) and Henry A. Loth (1861-1941), had joined the company by 1884.

Bernard Loth's entry in Who's Who in New York State, 1917-18, read, "Loth, Bernard: Manufacturer, retired; b. Hartford, Conn., Oct. 21, 1858; s. Joseph and Fanny (Popper) Loth; ed. N. Y. City public schs., Coll. City of N. Y., B.S., 1877; Columbia Coll., LL.B., 1879; prizes in languages and oratory, made special studies abroad; unmarried. Moved to Salt Lake City, Utah; admitted to bar; practised for several years; returned to N. Y. City in early 80s; made many trips to foreign lands with special reference to sericulture and the development of silk industry in U. S.; became mem. firm of Joseph Loth & Co., mf'rs of silk ribbons, retiring in 1900. Active for 25 years in development of upper western section of Manhattan (Washington Heights), and responsible for much legislation relating to same; pres. Fort Washington Ridge Ass'n; mem. Advisory B'd Corn Exchange Bank; v.-p. Alumni Ass'n Coll. City of N. Y. Republican. Mem. many scientific and quasi-scientific ass'ns; mem. (past master) Masonic order. Recreations: Along with literary and scientific lines, travel, chemical research. Address: 408 W. 150th St., N. Y. City."

When Henry A Loth died in 1941 he received the following obituary in the New York Times, 9 Dec. 1941, "Henry A. Loth of 201 West Eighty-ninth Street, a retired ribbon manufacturer who had rowed on the Harlem River for more than sixty years, died yesterday in the York Hospital, 119 East Seventy-fourth Street, at the age of 80. Last May he took his singles scull out on the river for the last time. Mr. Loth was captain of the Lone Star Boat Club for twenty-five years, secretary of the New York Rowing Association for fourteen years, and represented the latter organization at the Olympic Games in 1928 and 1932. In April, 1940, a hundred New York oarsmen gave a dinner in his honor. Mr. Loth leaves two daughters, Mrs. Sarah L. Bach and Mrs. Eleanor L. Livingston, and a sister, Mrs. Louise L. Sicher, all of this city."

An ad for Joseph Loth & Co. appeared in Trow's 1886 New York City Directory when Loth was located at 65 Greene St. in the area now known as Soho. Joseph Loth & Co. maintained offices at this address from 1884 to 1910.

The website shows a Loth "Fair and Square" ad on a bookmark. There are also several references here to additional information on Joseph Loth & Co.

This ad for Joseph Loth & Co. dates from 1913 after Loth's manufacturing had relocated to Norwich, Conn.

The architect of 1818-1838 Amsterdam Ave. was Hugo Kafka (1843-1915), a native of Austria-Hungary who immigrated to Philadelphia in the 1870s. In New York Kafka was responsible for a major addition to the Stern Brothers store on W. 23rd St., as well as designs for apartment buildings and houses.

Copyright © 2012 Walter Grutchfield