05 October 2007

A Good Sign: Barton's Fabulous Stationers

It may not seem so special, but I love this sign on Second Avenue near 64th. Before you dismiss it, consider these facts. Barton's Fabulous Stationers is the full name of the store; they are officially "fabulous." Even the new blue awning below the original sign says Barton's Fabulous Stationers. Second, they opted for "stationers," not the more mundane "stationery." Third (you can't see this in the picture), the sign advertises "distinctive greeting cards." Fourth, the place is run by people who obviously have no pretensions to fabulousness or distinctiveness.

When I took this picture, a short man with a moustache came out of the store and eyed me suspiciously. What was I doing? I said, "I love that sign." What sign? "That sign. The old one on top." He had no idea what I was talking about. He thought I was nuts. "Is this an old store?" Yes, he said, in a way that communicated "Who cares?" I left before he called the cops.


Sarah Goodyear said...

Hey, I grew up at 301 E. 64th St., right across the street from this place. It was my childhood stationery store and I loved it. I seem to remember it being run by an Israeli family. A homeless woman used to sleep on the grate outside.

Brought back a lot of memories seeing the sign (obv the blue awning part is an addition).

I can tell you with a fair amount of certainty that it's been there since at least 1972, or thereabouts.

I love your blog and read it all the time, although I think this is my first comment. I now live in the same neighborhood as I think you do...I'm on Douglass betw Court and Smith.

Speaking of signs, I was wondering if you've ever looked into the history of the "Magic Touch" sign over on Third St. near Hoyt or so.

Brooks of Sheffield said...

Thanks, Sarah. Good to have some background on Barton's. I know your name well from your journalism work.

Barbara L. Hanson said...

Sorry, no. The name of the store is Fabulous Stationers. Barton's was a brand of chocolates that many stationers sold, hence the difference in font. There were similar Barton's signs all over the city. Their main competitor, I seem to recall, was Baricinni, which made great mint meltaways.

Brooks of Sheffield said...

Thanks, Barbara, for the extra information. That makes the sign even more interesting. This must be one of the last Barton's signs. I've never seen the name anywhere else. One snag in the theory, though: on many internet directories, the store is actually listed as Barton's Fabulous Stationers. So the misunderstanding is persistent.

Barbara L. Hanson said...

There's an old Barricini's (there, that's the correct spelling I think) sign near MSG, on the plaza on 33rd St. I was so excited to think that a Barricini's had survived, but the business below had no connection to the sign. If you google Barton's, particularly in images, you'll see a lot of their trademark font and kosher (I forgot!) candies.

Brooks of Sheffield said...

Israeli proprietors. Kosher candies. It's all coming together, the picture of Fabulous Stationers of yesteryear. Thanks, readers. Oh, by the way, Sarah, about the Magic Touch sign. I've blogged about it before. (Just type in Magic Touch in the search box.) I don't know the history of the place, except that some old time Italian Carroll Garderners remember going there. It's an art studio now.