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History

This is an excerpt from a company history written by Macoy's owner Ms. Vee Hansen. This was originally written in 1949. Please sit back and enjoy this interesting voyage though time...

1849 - The Years Between - 1949

1849 the gold rush was on! Robert Macoy must have been tempted as were many other young men of his age - 34, yet he chose to remain in New York. It was a world, if you can imagine, without telephones, electricity, plumbing or automobiles.
Robert Macoy was an enthusiastic Mason and was active not only in his mother lodge - Lebanon No. 13 (now 191) of New York, but in the Chapter, Council, Commandery, and Scottish Rite. He was given the 33rd degree, but he is remembered mostly as past Grand Secretary and Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Lodge and as Grand Recorder of the Commandery of New York, and as founder of the Chapter system of the Order of the Eastern Star. It is not strange then that he entered into a work whereby he could "help, aid and assist" his brethren in their work and knowledge of the Craft.

In the 1845 New York Directory we find Robert Macoy listed as operating a printing office at 111 Nassau Street and residing at 26 Mulberry Street. In partnership with another famous Mason and author, John W. Simons, Robert Macoy began his Masonic publishing career in 1849 at 25 Pine Street. The first of his many Masonic books, THE MASTER WORKMAN, was published. The book was widely acclaimed and was subsequently reprinted in several editions.

In 1859, just one year after the first successful Trans-Atlantic Cable had been laid, Daniel Sickels, another well known Masonic author, and Robert Macoy decided to pool their resources and efforts and a partnership was formed with offices at 728 Broadway and later, in 1863, at 428 Broome Street. Simons apparently stepped out and continued in his soap business. The Civil War was on; men and business were sorely tried and only the best came through. More capital was needed and in 1865 William T. Anderson and A.S. Archer (who owned a bindery) joined Macoy and Sickels in the business.

Lincoln had been shot; the country was much in need of more brotherly love. Many books were published during this period. Freemasonry played an important part in the country. Fortunate it was that such strong men as these four were doing their part to bring about a better feeling among all men.

1867 saw the purchase of Alaska and America was going though the throes of reconstruction. The wilderness had been conquered, frontiers of business and industry were probed by pioneers and Robert Macoy, too, was forging ahead. His long time friend, Rob Morris of Kentucky, who had formed the system of Constellations and Families of Adoptive Masonry, announced his intention of confining his remaining years to Holy Land investigations. Robert Macoy took over from there and to quote Morris: "He had my full consent and endorsement, and thus became the instigator of a third and more successful system." Macoy reorganized Adoptive Masonry into Chapters and the ritual of THE ADOPTIVE RITE, published in 1868, remains the standard from which all Eastern Star rituals are taken today.

In 1869 the name of the partnership was changed to Macoy Publishing and Manufacturing Company. Daniel Sickels retired in 1870, and the other three moved their business to 626 Broadway.

Belts were tightened, days were gloomy, the banks failed in 1873, the Stock Exchange closed; everyone was hit. It is not unlikely that this small company had tough going and, in 1874, another of the partners, A.S. Archer, withdrew taking the bindery as his share of the partnership, leaving Robert Macoy and William T. Anderson. The latter bought out Macoy in 1876, changed the name of his business to Masonic Furnishing Company, and moved to 2 Bleecker Street. John Hoole bought out the business the same year from Anderson. Robert Macoy, however, continued writing and publishing and opened a business under his own name at 4 Barclay Street, later moving to 7 Murray Street and 319 Broadway. John Hoole, who had bought out the original partnership from Anderson in 1877, joined with John G. Barker, E DuLaurans and a Mr. Dunham under the name of Masonic Publishing and Furnishing Company and a year later a still further reorganization took place with Barker, Simons, Sickels and Hoole at the helm. Much moving took place during these various reorganizations and one cannot help but wonder if our predecessors were not just one jump ahead of the landlord for we find that they moved to 728 Broadway, then to 43 Bleecker Street and again, in 1884, to 63 Bleecker.

With reorganization, life was getting brighter - electric lights on Broadway made their appearance in 1880 and were symbolic of an enlightened America. Our Masonic predecessors, too, were not lessening their pace in their earnest efforts to enlighten the world Masonically. Books and more books were published. In 1885 Macoy published his first edition of THE WORSHIPFUL MASTER'S ASSISTANT. Good will was further engendered and was spanning the ocean for in 1886 France gave to the United States our beloved Statue of Liberty.

During this time there came forth still another Mason, Sherwood Bradley Robertson, who was to add his bit in furthering the culmination of a world-wide Masonic publishing and supply company. Robertson, hailing from Pennsylvania as a seller of pianos at 357 Bleecker Street, also did engrossing and, in 1887, began making Masonic certificates. With this new line of selling he added a Masonic supply agency. Three years later, 1890, William Burton entered into partnership with Robertson and their place of business was moved to 73 and later, 81 Park Row. Burton died a year later and Robertson changed the name of his business to Masonic Publishing and Supply Company.

This was the period of the Gay Nineties - the outgrowth of a rich and expanding country. It was a romantic period of the Gibson Girl, the swish of satin and lace - the shiny top hat and the waxed mustache. Jim Brady, Lilian Russel and Sarah Bernhardt were the talk of the town and the country. Bicycling was in vogue.

S.B. Robertson was also continuing spectacular growth in his Masonic business and his piano selling apparently was side-tracked for his more interesting business - that of manufacturing Masonic regalia of the richest velvets and satins, and the publication of Masonic literature.

Another panic in 1893, Coxey with his army marching on to Washington - these were anxious days, days to stir and test the courage of men. Hardships and business failures however had their counterpart in the Colombian Exposition in Chicago. The Ferris Wheel was born. Yes, the Nineteenth Century was a memorable one. Henry Ford brought out his first automobile in 1895. The horseless buggy was a danger to behold! Imagine - a speed of 20 miles per hour!

Robert Macoy had completed THE AMARANTH RITUAL which was published posthumously in 1895. Robertson was also increasing his business and in 1896 moved to 34 Park Row where he had more space. He was an indefatigable worker himself and knew how to get work from his employees. He was accused of having eyes in the back of his head, this Scotchman.

In January of 1897 Robertson bought out the D.H. Howell Manufacturing Company, a Masonic supply store once located in the Masonic temple. In the same year, 1897, on April 20th, the Robert Macoy Publishing and Masonic Supply business was purchased from Macoy's daughter, Clara Macoy Clark, who had become owner of his estate on his death, January 9, 1895. The original Bill of Sale in our files reads"...all copyrights, books, etc., together with the good will and the right to continue such business under the name of Macoy Publishing Company, or such other name, including the word 'Macoy' as they may select" was sold to S.B. Robertson doing business under the name of Masonic Publishing and Supply Company.

1898 was an auspicious year: Madame Curie discovered radium. War came again to a growing country. "Remember the Maine" rang in many ears. The same year, on June 24, 1898, the business which Robert Macoy had started in 1849, the Robertson certificate and Masonic Supply agency and the D.H. Howell Manufacturing Company were consolidated into one and incorporated in the State of New York, taking the name: MACOY PUBLISHING AND MASONIC SUPPLY COMPANY, INCORPORATED.

Between October 1901 and November 1902, negotiations were under way to bring into the fold the partnership originally started by Robert Macoy and John W. Simons and which had eventually gone into the hands of Barker, Simons, Sickel and Hoole (Masonic Publishing and Furnishing Company). This was accomplished. Thus were combined the four largest and oldest Masonic publishing and supply houses in the country. The corporation flourished and, according to the old minute book, the stockholders at their annual February, 1906, meeting moved to "seek larger, better and lighter quarters so that our growing stock may be adequately cared for and properly displayed." it took two years to find a suitable place but in 1908 the business was moved to 45-49 John Street where in remained until 1927 when the building was taken over by an insurance company.

During these years the country was also experiencing growing pains. Aviation had come into being; the two reckless Wright brothers had flown in the air for 59 seconds and gained a speed of 30 miles per hour! The San Francisco earthquake in 1906 took many lives and caused almost a half billion dollars damage. A business panic followed in 1908. The Titanic was sunk in 1912; 1913 saw the first Income Tax Law become effective. Our old-timers tell us that the company experienced great difficulty in getting its records together for this. Accounts were kept on small 3x7 cards in tim boxes. Some of these boxes are still in existence (but used for other purposes!). It is reported the bookkeeper had a nervous breakdown.

A year later, 1914, World War 1 plunged Europe into chaos and in 1917 American youth shouldered arms until the Armistice on November 11, 1918. This joyous occasion, though not less welcomed, was received quietly by the company for only a few days before, on October 29th, death had claimed Sherwood Bradley Robertson, the man who had been responsible for bring together the various groups into one corporation.

Women came into their own in 1920 and were given the vote. Liquor was for medicinal purposes only for Prohibition was here. The early 20th century also gave us the radio, the ear phone muffs -remember? The frivolous 20's gave us cellophane, the talking pictures in 1926, Lindbergh's solo flight to Paris in '27.

It was in that year that we started moving to the new location. Like many other businesses, we moved "up-town" to 35 West 32nd Street, where we are today. It was a difficult and long drawn out process for the company had grown mightily during the post war and "good years."

All went well for the country and for our company until 1929. The market crash, unemployment - memories still vivid enough to linger in the minds of most of us. Our company suffered as did all others. Those were lean days, the days of apple sellers, bank closing - but through it all not a Macoy employee was let go.

Roosevelt shattered the no 3rd term tradition. "Pearl Harbor" echoed around the world on December 7, 1941 and America was again plugged into war which was to last until September 2, 1945.

The lean years had taken their toll among the older officers who had remained through this trying time. First to go was our Vice President, J. Hugo Tatsch, 33rd degree, well known Masonic author and historian, who died in 1939 in London while attending the installation of the Grand Master of England. George V.S. Wiliams, our president, was the next; he passed away in April, 1942. Just one month later, Emma B. Riegel, Secretary, who had come to the company when a girl of only 13, passed on after having given 50 years of faithful service. Jennie V.S. Robertson, Treasure, and widow of S.B. Robertson, was called on Easter Day, April 9, 1944.

Thus it was that in four short years the officers were called by the Great Architect, but it was because of their untiring efforts and foresight in the training of younger personnel to carry on, that this company weathered the depression of the 30's and now enters its 100th year strong and eager to meet whatever challenges may come. No other Masonic supply house has had such a continuous business record. No other publisher has printed so many Masonic books - many of which remain standard today. It has been a century of service to Freemasons everywhere. We've grown and prospered year after year until we now serve Freemasons in every state in the United States, its possessions, and in nearly every foreign country.

As we enter our ONE HUNDREDTH YEAR, we extend our thanks and appreciation to our many friends and customers whose splendid cooperation has been an invaluable factor in our progress. We look forward to serving you in the same friendly way as we have in the past.

MACOY PUBLISHING AND MASONIC SUPPLY COMPANY, INC.
H. Lloyd Williams, President
Harold V.B. Voorhis, Vice President
V. Hansen, Secretary & Treasurer
Charles S. Lohmann, Comptroller

New York City
July, 1948

 

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