J. Agate, Formerly of Parsells & Agate, Gentlemen’s Outfitting Establishment and Manufactory… [opening lines of broadside].
An unrecorded 1840s American broadside
Just before April 12, 1884, Joseph Agate, a slightly built elderly man, bought an eighteen dollar Smith and Wesson revolver. Using an assumed name, Agate checked into a cheap hotel on Canal Street in New York City. A single self-inflicted shot was fired and Agate, a rich retired merchant reportedly worth over five million dollars, ended years of torment caused by incurable insomnia.
Forty years earlier, Joseph Agate owned a successful upscale gentlemen’s furnishing goods business on Broadway. Agate sold gentlemen’s luxury underclothing, hosiery, gloves, belts, scarves, and cravats made from silk, cashmere, velvet, satin, etc. He became a wealthy real estate investor and developer in Manhattan.
His obituary in the New York Times mentioned without irony that Agate was “...dressed in a Prince Albert coat, dark trousers and [a] blue chinchilla overcoat…” when he bought the revolver the day he killed himself.
Agate’s business as a sole proprietor, as advertised here, was preceded by the partnership of Parsells & Agate, the latter firm active as late as 1847. The transition to “J. Agate” from the partnership of Parsells & Agate occurred in 1847.
Plagued by his own medical problems, Agate manufactured and sold a patented elastic shoulder brace to promote good posture, “...strengthen the back, and expand the chest, giving a free and healthy action to the lungs…”
Unrecorded New York City business and manufacturer’s broadside from the late 1840s, advertising men’s luxury goods and a patented medical device.
Description: J. Agate, Formerly of Parsells & Agate, Gentlemen’s Outfitting Establishment and Manufactory… [opening lines of broadside].
New York: Wright, Printer, 74 Fulton street, [aft. 1846]. p. Broadside. Letterpress and show type with decorative border. Fold lines; brief foxing; very good.
Ref. “A Millionaire’s Suicide,” in The New York Times, April 12, 1884.