Newspaper Page Text
New Yorkers Are Indulgin
Not 'How Little' but 'How Much'
Seems To Be Aim of the
Orgy of Spending
Furs and Diamonds Stand at the
Top of the list of Expensive ?
Articles in Demand
BACK in a past that now seems
very remote, indeed, one
"Coal Oil Johnny" was the
synonym for all that was ex?
travagant in spending. Johnny and
his few paltry hundred thousands
cast into the golden flood now in?
undating New York shops would cre?
ate about as much of a splash as a
pebble dropped overboard in mid-At?
People used to live happily ever
after on what some persons are now
paying out for little tokens of es?
teem. Jewelers, furriers, clothiers
and automobiliers admit glibly, but
not for publication, that the last
thing examined by the modern pur?
chaser is the price tag.
The men satisfying the public's
frantic hunger for luxuries want the
costly appetites to be satisfied quiet?
ly, with no more noise than the
scraping of the pen across the lov?
ing face of a check. They act as
muff. The proprietor said he had
just the thing, something made for
a woman and then refused by her.
He would have been heartbroken, he
said, but for the deposit. The muff
wasn't a large one, the proprietor
admitted. In fact, he said, he was
compelled to tell her that only such
small hands as hers could hope to
use it with effect.
He said he got the lady's hus?
band's check for $2,440 that night.
"Of course," the proprietor said,
"we have some Hudson Bay coats,
large, heavy coats, and they sell
for $2,000. The demand for them
keeps our showroom almost empty."
The "Cheaper" Grade
Sets of three gowns, black satin
or black silk, he said, were being of?
fered and accepted at $1,000 the trio.
People were almost ignoring the
number of ciphers before the deci?
mal point. He liked this careless?
ness, he said. It seems that he has
though they didn't want their cus?
tomers to wake up and find that
they had paid out the price of a
summer home on Lake George for
something that would be in a safety
vault on all but three nights a
Not the Rich Alone
No form of extravagance has been
neglected by either the new or expe?
rienced rich. Nor have the rich alone
been breathing the once exclusive at?
mosphere of the Fifth Avenue shops.
The fair fingers which have tried
on and often carried away high
priced rings have often shown a
close acquaintance with hard work.
The rich and poor seem to be
meeting together in <these stores,
the war having been the finan?
cia! maker of them all. Fifth Ave?
nue is as crowded with ultimate con?
sumers as Third Avenue. Antique
shops are becoming as busy as deli?
catessen stores. Graduations from
three-legged stools into Louis Quinze
chaises-longues are favorite house?
The managers of the stores of the
vanishing dollars can only elevate
the edges of their shoulders to the
tops of their ears in explanation of
the orgy. They like it, but it puzzles
them. They sprinkle trick French
phrases through voluble English as
they tell of the endless buying.
Price No Object
On Fifty-seventh Street and on
Fifth Avenue are situated a number
of stores which would be called
"lady outfitters" if they were on
Grand Street. Being where they are
they are called "Maisons," with the
first name of the owner following.
In one of these stores, a woman
looked over a light chinchilla wrap
last week. It looked superb, magnifi?
ant, on the model, according to the
owner of the shop, who tells this.
The woman herself was no model,
the owner said. He was fearful,
though, that he would lose the sale.
The coat cost as much as a year'?
lease on a fairly large house.
"It will cost you $15,400, ma
d*me," the owner reported himself at
??ring, "but, ah, if you coulei
"Wrap it up," the lady's escort it
???ported as saying, a bit impatiently
bscause it seems that he had theatei
tickets, and they were already flvi
minutes' late. This is some of th?
truth which is so often reported ai
Granger than Action.
Another lady wanted a cbinchiili
^a wife and two children uptown, and
likes to be a pretty, good customer
at his shop himself.
M. Ren? Revi Ron,, a member of the
firm of Revillon Fr?res, said that
the call for moderately priced furs
was fairly good.
"What are moderately priced furs,
M. Revillon?" he was asked.
"Oh, $3,000 or $5,000 ones," he
replied. "These are sealskins?some
of them?and others are also of the
less rare varieties. The silver fox
and the sable?they are the more ex?
pensive. The call for them has not
been so constant and strong as the
deniand for the moderately priced
A fur dealer who pays a lot for
advertising, but didn't want to be
j quoted, pointed out that New York
City was in the throes of a fur buy
! ing and wearing epidemic. Ha de?
clared that New Yorkers, the wom?
en in particular, had become fur
bearing animals. Some of the coats
his customers take off for the fur
affairs are as shiny as a lady's un
powdered nose, he said. The thing
that puzzled him, according to his
admission, was the cash buyinjr. It
used to be necessary to sell furs on
credit, he declared, but now the
transactions were concluded immedi?
From fur coats, in a word, the
lady is dressing with unprecedented
expense. A negligee, one Thirty
fourth Street dealer in them ex?
plained, is something which a lady
wears when alone or with other
ladies. Fifteen ladies could wear a
pound of negligee, the dealer said.
Most of them are of cr?pe de some?
thing, with frills and an occasional
silken rosebud, he added.
The Negligee Demand
"We used to think," he said, "that
when a lady paid $50 for a negligee
she was plotting against her hus?
band's financial future, or was going
to have her picture taken, to be sent
to her old neighbors in Kansas.
"Sometimes, these days, a lady
still pays $50 for a negligee, but
it's usually something of a noisy
color or of an obscure pattern. The
$100 negligees pass out, from our
shop in a steady, bewildering pro?
cession. We don't know where all
this money comes fwpn. Fortu?
nately, we don't have to find ???t."
He Mid that lingerie of all kinds
was fast becoming the most.demo?
cratic kind of intimate wearing ap
parel. He quoted silk stockings at
$8.76 a pair and said that they were
transparent. He explained that this
was in their favor and that they
melted from the shelves like dough?
nuts at an orphan asylum.
A long established shoe house, to
which "the world has beaten a path"
(the name is not to be used), is
making shoes to order, for men and
women, at $50 a pair. Uptown the
made-to-fit footwear is bringing
even higher, prices.
"Perhaps," said the present head
of the old firm, "people are begin?
ning to realize that the dear is cheap.
Maybe they find that they get far
better wear out of shoes made to
reflect every twist and turn in their
feet. We used to make shoes for
$12 and $15 and we sold some, but
nothing in comparison to the quan?
tities ? we^ turn outrnow."
Can't Keep Up
He said he had been compelled to
compile a waiting list because the
men working for him, most of
them, anyway, had worked for his
father and were kind of slow. Be?
sides, he said, they were dazed by
the influx of orders and by their
own wages. He declared, laughing?
ly, that some of the $50 sales did
not net him a great profit because
the feet of many plumbers are large
and require much leather.
Not all of the numerous well-off
citizens are paying $50 for shoes.
Some are economizing on their foot?
wear and headgear and then are
streaming into jewelry stores. F. C.
Backus, secretary of the National
Jewelers' Board of Trade, wants it
known that the country is jewelry
crazy and diamond mad.
"Everybody wants platinum, jew?
elry," Mr. Backus said. "We can?
not find enough large and expen?
sive stones to fill the numerous or?
ders that come in. Diamonds par
ticularly are wanted. Every natior
in th? world seems to want som?
diamonds, but the demand here i:
especially large. While the scramble
goes on, the prices go up."
Diamonds an Investment
Mr. Backus explained that as
soon as most people got a little ex?
tra money?and he said these were
numerous at present?they pur?
chased diamonds, because they were
not only fine things to display, but
also represented a gQpd investment.
According to the sales manager of
one of the city's most famous gem
stores, the call for bevies and flocks
of diamonds is sounding louder
daily. He told of $12,000 and $15,
000 sales with a lightness and flu?
ency which stamped them as com?
mon. The average price of engage?
ment rings is about $1,200, he de?
clared, compared with an average of
$300 not so many years ago.
Brooches, necklaces, lavalli?res and
assorted pins were flitting their
sparkling way to the ultimate con?
sumers with amazing speed and
steadiness, he said.
Dressed in the clothing above de?
scribed and decorated with the jewel?
ry mentioned, people hesitate to ride
behind less than six cylinders of an
automobile, it was learned. Man?
agers of the agencies dealing in the
most expensive cars reported orders
which would absorb their receipts
in cars for months. The scramble
is for the best, the managers said,
each continuing to describe the con?
centrated effort to buy up his favo?
rite car. While agents for less ex?
pensive makes do not report a fall?
ing off in demand, it was shown that
the higher priced machines are at?
tracting more customers than ever
In automobiles, as in lingerie and
fur, price is the obscured considera?
"The demand for Rolls-Royce cars
is great," the New York agent for
them said. "The latest model Rolls
Royce car will be delivered in Mas
or June for $17,000, and a numbei
of people seem inclined toward thai
The demand for expensive cars keeps pace with other wants
New Version of Lincoln's Murder
ANEW versi?n of the assas?
sination of President Lin?
coln by Wilkes Booth in
Ford's Theater in Wash?
ington?new, at least, in the contra?
diction of sdme of the generally ac?
cepted details of that great Ameri?
can tragedy?has just appeared.
Among the- things accepted and
vouched for by historians and incor?
porated in plays, movies and books
that have been compiled with pains?
taking care for small, but dramatic,
details, which are pushed aside by
this new version are the statements
that Laura Keene was on the stage
at the time of the shooting, and that
Booth after the murder defiantly
faced the audience and shouted "Sic
* semper tyrannis," before he hob?
bled off the stage.
And to give the new version veri?
similitude, its author declares that
he and he alone was the only actual
eye-witness of the slaying of the
W. J. Ferguson, the veteran actor,
now seventy-seven years old, who
was S call boy at Ford's Theater
when Lincoln was killed, gave his
story of the killing recently in an
address at the Green Room Club, at
a reception tendered him by that or?
ganization of players. It was, he
said, the first time he had ever pub?
licly discussed the details of the event
in the years that have followed.
This, it was explained, was due to
the innate retiring disposition of
the aged actor and a desire not to
enter into any controversy with his?
torians and others.
Some time ago, when David W.
Griffith produced "The Birth of a
Nation," he spent months searching
records and historical data to make
his, production of the shooting in
the theater correct in every mi?
nute detail. TJie result showed the
second scene of the third act of
"Our American Cousin" going on,
with Miss Keene on the stage,
when Booth slipped into the Presi?
dential box, fired, and then, shak?
ing his fist at the audience, leaped
onto the stage. He then?and, ac?
cording to Mr. Griffith, all accounts
coincided?turned to the auditorium
and shouted out his rasping "Sic
"I honestly think I was the only
actual eye-witness to the murder of
President Lincoln," said Mr. Fergu?
son. "At the time I was a call boy
at Ford's Theater and frequently I
was * called upon to play small
parts for visiting companies. On
this evening one of the actors of the
company failed to report at the
theater and I was told I would have
to do a small scene with Miss Keene,
It was only a few lines, but I was
nervous and excited at the prospect
of appearing on the stage with the
great Laura Keene. It was not
until just before the murder that I
noticed that President Lincoln was
in his private box.
"The scene had just begun, and
I was standing in my place on the
prompt side. There was no one else
backstage, as the players were in
the, greenroom, where they re?
mained until I called them for their
cues. Mis Keene had come out to
talk to me and explain a bit of
'business' we were to go through
later. I was paying more attention
to her than anything else when I
noticed a sudden commotion in the
"There was a sudden flash; then
I saw Booth spring to the rail of
the box, "poise there a second and
then leap onto the stage. He landed
?n his left knee, rested a fraction
of a second and then quickly
stumbled toward the entrance where
Miss Keene and I were standing.
He lurched past us, brushing us to
one side. The bowie knife he held
pressed against my side as he passed
and I could feel his hot breath on
my cheek. I know I was terror
stricken. As I recall it now my
mental processes apparently had
stopped. In a dim way I knew that
some one had been shot and that
that some one probably was Presi?
dent Lincoln. But I was powerless
to move until Booth had passed me
and had reached the side wall. I
could sec him stumble along this,
holding himself up with one hand
as he lurched along. When he
reached the rear wall he turned and,
still holding himself erect with one
hand pressed against the wall, made
for a small door which opened onto
a dingy back street. I saw him
kick the boy that was holding his
horse and then he made off into the
"How long Booth was in the little
hall back of the box I do not know,
?le made his entrance from the
'front' of the house and not from the
stage, as many have said. There was
no way in which to reach the Presi?
dential box from the stage. The only
door to the little hallway was from
the theater proper. Then in the hall?
way was another door which led
directly to the box. Booth was in
the hall long enough to work a stick
into the plaster on the wall and use
it as a wedge to keep the door shut.
Also there was a gimlet hole in the
door, which showed he had looked in
on the Presidential party before
opening the door and firing the fatal
shot. Whether this had been made
before or on that night I do not
"It was after Booth had made hi?
way to the street and rode awaj
into the night that I, as call boy
gave the signal that rang down the
curtain on Ford's Theater and upor
one of the greatest of Americar
machine. Earlier deliveries of cars
of an earlier model will be made at
$14,500. There are many takers."
He illustrated, by way of emphasis
and advertisement, the demand for
his cars by saying that he sold a
Rolls-Royce recently for $16,000-^
and it was a used car of a model
now five years old!
Labor Saving Devices
The demand for luxuries is not
confined by any means to vehicles
or the boudoir, an interview with
Arthur Williams, general commer?
cial manager of the New York Edi?
son Company, revealed. He re?
ported that the numerous labor
saving electrical devices which in
previous years were regarded with
passing, but not buying, interest
have been swept into thousands, of
homes by the wave of prosperity.
The night before Christmas found
a marked emptiness in the show?
rooms for devices at 130 East Fif?
teenth Street. ?
Mr. Williams explained that his
ily and in large bunches, he ampli?
fied. He could scarcely remember
customers who had refused the
grapes when told of the price, nor
could he recall a single swooning. A
few young men, accompanied by
young women, had turned slightly
pale, he declared, but most of the
customers hadn't paid any more at?
tention to the price than if he had
said 20 cents a pound.
He brought out a neat basket of
about six assorted pieces of fruit.
The price of the basket?$5.20?at?
tracted rather than repelled custom?
ers, he averred.
At $18 an Ounce
Next door a perfumer was selling %
bottled odor at $18 an ounce, and
selling pints of it. It is put up in
insignificant bottles, which are taken
away by a stream of purchasers
who leave $4.25 each.
Cakes of soap, said to be highly
odorous, are sold at a drug store on
Forty-third Street and Broadway at
$3.50 each. Unlike a seven-cent cake,
company does not sell the appli- j
I anees, but merely permits manufac- ;
j turers to exhibit in its rooms. These j
| manufacturers fairly choked the
showrooms with their products a '
few weeks before the holidays, he !
said, but the supply, adequate as it ?
was, failed to meet the demand.
He reported that the electrical ?
washing machines, which can be pur- ?
chased for as low as $80 and as ;
high as $300, disappeared from the
exhibition rooms before the on
I slaught of the army of prosperous
! housewives. Trifles kke electric
irons at $6 had a brief experience
in exhibition r?les. Portable lamps,
including the expensive floor lamp ?
arrangements, were in constant de- j
mand. People willingly paid $4 for j
a small toaster and seemed thank- ;
ful for the privilege. Even old- ?
fashioned housewives participated in
the scramble for electric vacuum
cleaners, which infrequently were
sold below $50 each.
The holidays' close has not cur
'? tailed the demand, Mr. Williams
: said. He predicted continued buy
I ing activity, saying that all classes
are joining in the grand rush to pay
' out money.
Electric washing machines would
i undoubtedly be no more strange and
j unheard of to our forebears than
I grapes at $3 a pound. Fruit has
not been overlooked by the luxury
hunters. A store on Fifth Avenue
near Forty-eighth Street has sev?
eral bunches of huge grapes, each
grape as large as a medium-sized
plum, hanging in the windows. The
salesman in the store is not the fa?
miliar greengrocer of preluxuri
i ous days, wearing a white apron
j and with a pencil behind his ear.
i The man who waits on the peo?
ple attracted by the grapes wears
a tailor-made suit worth numerous
dollars and uses a fountain pen with
purple ink. He wears a silk collar
and frequently shoots his cuffs.
He said that the grapes displayed
sold for $3 a pound. They sold stead
The Colonel's lady and Judy O'Grady meet in Fifth Avenue
the autocratic soap is packed in a
cardboard box. To a customer who
hesitated at the price the clerk said
that it was all right?that there
were enough buyers to take all that
kind of soap they could obtain.
On Broadway, between Forty-fifth
and Forty-sixth streets, a confec?
tionery store sells salted nuts at
$2.30 a pound. The manager of the
place said he fills anew a generous
sized section of the showcases daily.
The big buying fever runs also to
living quarters. While the East Side
and other poorer sections are stud?
ded with empty fiats, there is a
frenzied rush for anything vacant M
in the so-called best sections. "
A recently married young man,
living with his bride at his parents'
home, was telephoned to by a real
estate agent last week to the effect
that an apartment on 103d Street,
slightly off Broadway, was vacant
and could be had for $2,000 a year.
The young man and his bride ate
their breakfast slowly, as young
; men and their brides do. Then they
| went, less than a mile, to the re
', ported empty premises. They were
! told by the superintendent that six
! people had called-in the last half
| hour and that the first of the six
had taken the place. They called up
the agent. He said, curtly, that the
next time he told them of a vacant
apartment they should go there
quickly and stand not on the order
of their going.
There are undoubtedly many who
aren't connected with the heavy buy
! ing game, and they are wondering
where the players get the money.
Some get along without it, though.
A man over in Brooklyn who
bought his wife an $85,000 coat last
week probably was well kissed for It.
No doubt a number of other men
in Brooklyn got just as well kissed
for bringing home something worth
$1.79 and presenting it with a look
in their eyes that said they'd buy a
Russia full of furs for her if they
weren't bookkeepers or reporters or