April 03, 2013

PAINTING OF M. GORDON NOVELTY BY ADOLF


In April of 2001 I spent about twenty unforgettable minutes in the endangered M. Gordon Novelty shop of New York City. (I wrote an account of my visit here.) I have often cursed my camera-less self for failing to document my experience that day, especially after I learned that the shop closed its doors one year later.

Thankfully a Barcelona artist known as ADOLF visited M. Gordon the very year that I did, and he brought along his camera. Furthermore, he translated his photograph into the wonderful oil painting shown above.  His piece offers answers to my questions concerning the window dressing and the faded decor, which has freed me to stop chastising my own memory for its failures. While the web offers numerous photos of the storefront in its defunct state, ADOLF's work serves as practically the only record of the place as it appeared when it still had a pulse.

Here are a couple detail shots... 



As a bonus gift for your eyes, here are a couple of their wholesale catalog covers...




7 comments:

Jody B. said...

If money were no object, I would open a store exactly like this. I would have at least 5 different varieties of fake vomit for sale. I would perform magic shows there regularly. It would be located right next to my old movie theater where there would be vintage movies and regular spook shows. Must begin buying lottery tickets immediately.

Kirk D. said...

I've dreamed out loud very similar scenarios. I also include a mini-golf course and a wax museum.

Stephen B. said...

Things brings to mind a true story [and I can't confirm the lcation - never could remember...] when I was a kid of 10 or 11 years old, we vacationed a number of times in the nearby grand city of New Orleans. One year we went inside a shop that supplied the Mardi Gras float sponsors, and had many shelves of magic tricks, gags, fly-in-ice-cube, itching powder, snowing cigarette pellets and such paraphernalia. I was not allowed to really purchase anything (my Dad might have relented for an item or two) but after all the years I never remembered the location or name of that store - from about 1982!

Kirk D. said...

Stephen- Wow, that place sounds amazing. Now I wonder if there's a single classic joke/novelty shop still in existence in the States. Some have turned into party/costume stores, and then there's Archie McPhee but they're on another level. At least magic shops still remain.

C.L. Rogers said...

I remember trying to go in Gordon Novelty in the mid 1990's. There was a guy that sat on a stool behind a velvet rope and he said they weren't open to the general public. I worked down the street for a while but never saw anyone go in. I think they were selling or renting costumes at that point. Not sure. Wrong entrance maybe?

Kirk D. said...

C.L.- Interesting, maybe they only sold retail when they felt like it.
I suspect their catalog was where most of their business came from.

C.L. Rogers said...

Catalog only, makes sense, velvet rope man might have said that come to think of it. I moved to the city in 1990 and there was still plenty of these old school stores left. My first job was at Movie Star News, I worked for the original "Betty Page" photographers, the Irving Klaw family. That was storefront and catalog, crazy place!