Some old Baltimore addresses backpack an affecting value. Aback I heard that 317 N. Charles St. would cease to be the abode area I went for autograph paper, cards and invitations, I winced. Down’s Engravers and Stationers is affective to the Inner Harbor’s Gallery abutting month. I’m abiding there’ll be added bottom cartage at its new location, but I’ll so absence this Charles Artery armpit area I shopped for so abounding years.
As with abounding institutions in Baltimore, this Down’s was accepted by addition name, Lycett’s. (In fact, the Lycett name is spelled out in brownish belletrist set into the access terrazzo.)
For abounding years, Ike Lycett, the printer and stationer, presided over the operation founded by his ancestors. Aback he bought out a competitor, Down’s, Lycett kept the name on the Charles Artery shop.
For the accomplished 30-some years, the business has been jotter and agenda products. It was the abode to go for invitations. I anamnesis apperception with Ike aback my sisters absolved bottomward the conjugal aisle. His admonition was anytime the same: Keep the diction and agenda apparent and simple.
It was consistently a amusement to bead in this shop. It was spacious; the articles were displayed after any fanfare. You didn’t get the consequence some concealed computer was beat away, creating a chump contour of a chump who bought agenda with a blooming border. The computers were in actuality animal beings. The sales agents knew you, your name and your preferences.
The shop’s windows were custom-built for a pedestrian-friendly street. There was a little arcade wherein you could footfall central and busybody on the allurement samples on display. They were generally invites to big Washington dinners – the array of affair that Cinderella’s stepsisters would accept fought over receiving. And there were engraved affidavit headed by names disconnected by assorted initials.
For so abounding years I’ve absolved through these doors, but I’ll say appropriate out my actually admired visits were in the 1950s.
As a adolescent I rapidly abstruse that 317 N. Charles St. captivated one of the greatest toy departments in Baltimore.
I would breach fast and bound up the accomplish to the additional attic area a bewitched toyland had board shelves abounding with the articles collectors covet today. There were long, attenuated agenda boxes of British-made advance soldiers and cowboys, too. There were gold cobweb accoutrements that captivated miniature German villages or board soldiers. My sisters went for the board dollhouse furniture. There were toys actuality the added food did not sell. That’s what fabricated Lycett’s so special.
There were additionally academy advisory books and alive stuff, too, but those never absorbed me.
The abundance had a asthmatic elevator in the aback (it’s still there). On added floors were lamps, bells gifts, glassware and domiciliary items.
Being Charles Street, area the city’s best baby shops were located, the Lycett articles were not inexpensive. But several times a year the buyers bargain the prices, and the sales were excellent.
I can able-bodied bethink the commitment barter accession home with huge boxes abounding of packing straw, which cradled the glassware and added breakables.
I got the aforementioned consequence the added day aback I alone in at 317 N. Charles. The affective assurance was up, and barter were digging through the wares. It seemed like a January auction of 1957. Only this time, it would be the aftermost here.
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