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Foster Brothers records, 1875-1973, bulk, 1893-1942

Contents and Arrangement

The collection is arranged as 9 series:

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Series 1: Correspondence , 1897-1942
1 Linear foot
(Box 1)

Business correspondence with suppliers, distributors, and wholesale and retail customers concerns routine matters and special orders. The correspondence dated 1897-1941 is relatively sparse and primarily concerns copyright of artwork reproduced by Foster Brothers that was sold, framed, in gift shops, department and furniture stores.
The year 1942, the company's last year in business, is well documented. Of particular interest are letters from S. W. Osborne (Margaret Foster's husband) written while traveling to meet with wholesale clients in cities throughout the Northeast and Midwest.
Chronological correspondence is followed by alphabetically arranged correspondence.
Description Container Select
Correspondence, 1897-1915
1
1
Correspondence, 1916
1
2
Correspondence, 1917
1
3
Correspondence, 1918-1919
1
4
Correspondence, 1920-1921
1
5
Correspondence, 1922-1941
1
6
Abbott - Austin-Hastings Co., 1942
1
7
Babcock - Bittinger, 1942
1
8
Boaler Burchell and Dillon - Boyce Studio, 1942
1
9
Brandenburg - Butterfield, 1942
1
10
Cabot - Closson Co., 1942
1
11
Cocks - Cusik Studios, 1942
1
12
Davenport - Drakenfeld Co., 1942
1
13
E and E Art Shop - Fulda, 1942
1
14
Gamble - Gump's, 1942
1
15
Hagerty - Hurley, 1942
1
16
Ideal Furniture Co. - Jordan, 1942
1
17
Kahn's Art Gallery - Kromhaut, 1942
1
18
Lake - Lyon Furniture Mercantile Agency, 1942
1
19
Macy and Co. - McVicker, 1942
1
20
M/E Framing Guild - Myers, 1942
1
21
Nature Food Centres - Osborn, 1942
1
22
Osborne, S. W., 1942
1
23
Ozark Arts and Crafts Center - Payne, 1942
1
24
P P and H Moulding Co. - Putnam, 1942
1
25
Radas - Ryder, 1942
1
26
Sanders Co. - Sebatia Products, 1942
1
27
Shaker Gift Center Inc. - Swartz, 1942
1
28
Taber - Vixsboxse Art Galleries, 1942
1
29
Wadsworth, Howland and Co. - Waverly Fabrics, Inc., 1942
1
30
Webb - Wyman, 1942
1
31
Yale Athletic Association - Yuenger Manufacturing Co., 1942
1
32

Series 2: Stock Records , 1905-1942
6.2 Linear feet
(Boxes 2-6, 11, OVs 23-24, BVs 13-15)

This series contains stock cards, inventory records, and price lists in addition to blueprints, drawings, and stencils and designs for wood carving.
Stock cards (mostly 8" x 10" pieces of mat board) describe merchandise produced or sold by Foster Brothers, including frames for pictures and mirrors, candlesticks, glove boxes, moldings, painted glass and stands. Each card contains at least one image (drawing, photograph, or printed reproduction) of the item and its stock or style number, and sometimes notes dimensions and prices. Some loose images are interfiled with the cards.
A large number of paper stencils that were used to transfer carving designs to frames survive, although many are fragile. Many stencils are annotated with the corresponding stock or style number; other designs for woodcarving are merely drawn on paper. In addition, there are extensive drawings of frames and moldings, loose and in bound volumes, including finished, colored drawings by master craftsman C. F. Richter.
One volume titled "Cost on Mirrors" (1929) analyzes the amount of time needed to carve, gild, and polish frames, the cost of materials, and prices of frames #1001-1308.
Description Container Select
Stock Cards
Frames #515-4599, undated
19 Folders
2
1-19
Frames #4600-5099, undated
18 Folders
3
1-18
Frames #5100-6011; unnumbered, undated
18 Folders
4
1-18
Candlesticks #1-8, undated
5
1
Glove Boxes #6-9, undated
5
2
Light Bracket; Wall Candelabra #1-2, undated
5
3
Moldings #1w-186w; #1-172; #4533-4966, undated
(see also BV 13)
5
4
Painted Glass #1-62, undated
2 Folders
5
5-6
Pier Mirrors (#P1-P17), undated
5
7
Stands #1-40; unnumbered, undated
2 Folders
5
8-9
Blueprints
Mirrors #1004-1167, undated
5
10
Catalog (includes blueprints and printed reproductions) - Mirrors #1053-1143, undated
1 Volume
5
11
"Cost on Mirrors", 1929
1 Volume
5
12
Drawings (hand colored) by C. F. Richter
(see also BVs 14-15)
Cabinets, undated
5
13
Foster Brothers Mirrors in Room Settings (unsigned), undated
5
14
Inventories
Vol. 1:, 1933-1942
5
15
Vol. 2:, 1939-1941
(loose leaf notebook, disbound)
5
16
Vol. 3:, undated
5
17
Miscellaneous Lists, undated, 1939
5
18
Price Books
(loose leaf notebooks, disbound)
Vol. 1: Stands and Frames, 1919-1938
5
19
Vol. 2: Frames, 1919-1939
5
20
Vol. 3: Frames, 1923-1942
5
21
Price Lists, undated, 1929-1942
2 Folders
5
22-23
Stencils and Designs for Woodcarving, #100s-#6000s, unnumbered, undated
34 Folders
see also OVs 23-24, BV 13
6
1-34
Stencils and Designs for Woodcarving, unnumbered, undated
8 Folders
see also OVs 23-24, BV 13
11 (hol)
1-8
Stencils and Designs for Woodcarving, (#1000s-2000s, 4000s), undated
OV 23
Stencils and Designs for Woodcarving (unnumbered), undated
OV 24
Stencils and Designs for Woodcarving (unnumbered), 1905
BV 13
Drawings of Moldings, #1-3038, 1905
BV 13
Drawings (probably by C. F. Richter), "Sketches" (mirrors and frames), undated
BV 14
Drawings (probably by C. F. Richter), "Mirrors and Frames", undated
(see also Box 5, BV 14; includes boxes, stands, letterhead design, printed reproductions; some loose items)
BV 15

Series 3: Financial Records , 1892-1959
3.3 Linear feet
(Boxes 7-9; BVs 16-19)

Financial records consist mainly of accounting records, but also include annual financial reports, orders, and sales records. There are relatively few records before the early 1900s.
Description Container Select
Accounting Records
Account Balances, Wholesale and Retail, 1940-1941
7
1
Accounts Payable, A-Z, 1936-1941
2 Folders
7
2-3
Accounts Payable, Summary, 1919-1938
(5" x 8" cards)
7
4
Accounts Receivable, A-Z, 1907-1940
4 Folders
(5" x 8" cards)
7
5-8
Accounts Receivable, Summary, 1919-1938
(5" x 8" cards)
7
9
Advertising, 1928-1931
(5" x 8" cards)
7
10
Automobile, Reserve for Depreciation, 1931-1937
(5" x 8" cards)
7
11
Balance Sheets, 1919-1930
7
12
Balances, Sundry Credit and Debit, 1931
(5" x 8" cards)
7
13
Bank Deposits, 1919-1939
(5" x 8" cards)
7
14
Cash, 1919-1939
(5" x 8" cards)
7
15
Cash Journal, Vol. 1:, Jan. 11, 1938-Jan. 1, 1939
7
16
Cash Journal, Vol. 2:, Jan. 3-Nov. 1, 1939
7
17
Cash Journal, Vol. 3:, Nov. 13, 1939-Sept., 21, 1940
7
18
Cash Journal, Vol. 4:, Sept. 23, 1940-Sept. 6, 1941
7
19
Cash Journal, Vol. 5:, 1939
(see: BV 16)
7
20
Cash Journal, Vol. 6:, 1940
(see: BV 17)
7
21
Cash Journal, Vol. 7:, 1941
(see: BV 18)
7
22
Code Numbers, undated
7
23
Consignments, 1935-1941
1 Volume
7
24
Expenses, Factory and Store, 1900-1931
(5" x 8" cards)
7
25
Foster, Georgette K., Helen J., John R. and Estate of John R., 1902-1938
(5" x 8")
7
26
Furniture and Fixtures, 1919-1938
(5" x 8" cards)
7
27
General Ledger, Profit and Loss, 1938
(see: BV 19)
7
28
Insurance, 1937-1938
(5" x 8")
7
29
Interest and Discount, 1919-1939
(5" x 8")
7
30
Inventories, Consigned, Factory, and Store, 1919-1938
(5" x 8" cards)
7
31
Inventories, Factory and Store Equipment, Supplies, Fixtures, 1920
7
32
Investment Account, 1919-1932
(5" x 8" cards)
7
33
Payroll, 1931
(5" x 8" cards)
8
1
Payroll - Factory, Vol. 1:, 1936-1937
8
2
Payroll - Factory, Vol. 2:, 1937-1938
8
3
Payroll - Factory, Vol. 3:, 1939-1940
8
4
Profit and Loss, 1919-1939
(5" x 8" cards)
8
5
Sales and Purchases, 1919-1938
(5" x 8" cards)
8
6
Sales and Purchases; Expenses, 1939-1942
8
7
Taxes, 1925-1931
(5" x 8" cards)
8
8
Annual Financial Reports, 1925-1932
8
9
Annual Financial Reports, 1934-1942
8
10
Order Books - Retail, Vol. 1:, 1939
8
11
Order Books - Retail, Vol. 2:, 1940
8
12
Order Books - Retail, Vol. 3:, 1941
8
13
Order Books - Wholesale, Vol. 1:, 1937-1939
8
14
Order Books - Wholesale, Vol. 2:, 1939-1941
8
15
Sales, Vols. 1-3:, 1892-1910
8
16
Sales, Vol. 4:, 1937-1939
(wrapped package)
8
17
Sales, Vol. 5:, 1939-1941
9
1
Sales Records, Jan. 1942-Jan. 1943
13 Folders
9
2-14
Sales, Monthly Summaries, 1926-1942
9
15
Sales, Davidson, C. E., 1938-1942
9
16
Sales, Wholesale Sales Trips (itineraries, customer lists, expenses, sales), 1930-1942
9
17
Accounting Records, Cash Journal, Vol. 5, 1959
BV 16
Accounting Records, Cash Journal, Vol. 6, 1940
BV 17
Accounting Records, Cash Journal, Vol. 7, 1941
BV 18
Accounting Records, General Ledger, Profit and Loss, 1938
BV 19

Series 4: Writings and Lists , 1920s-circa 1942
0.25 Linear feet
(Box 9)

Writings consist of articles, lists and notes. An unsigned article concerns Foster Brothers' craftsmen and their early use of machinery. Notes include material for a history of mirrors by Helen J. Foster, and "The Art of Framing" by John R. Foster.
Description Container Select
Articles by Unknown, undated
9
18
Draft of Mirror Brochure (with illustration), undated
9
19
Lists, Mailing, 1940-1941
9
20
Lists, Store and Factory Locations; Unusual items Framed for Customers by Helen Foster, undated
9
21
Lists, Trade (by city), 1939
9
22
Lists, Retail Customers (Arlington, Belmont, Boston, Brookline, Cambridge, Lexington, Medfords, Worcester), undated
8 Volumes
in 2 folders
9
23-24
Lists, Wholesale New England Customers or Possible Customers by Helen Foster, undated
9
25
Notebooks, Helen Foster - Business Information, A-Z, undated
9
26
Notebooks, John R. Foster - Notes and Figures; Lists, 1920s-1930s
2 Volumes
disbound
9
27
Notebooks, Margaret J. Melly [Mrs. McLaughlin] (in charge of wholesale orders and advertising) and Helen J. Foster - "Interesting Information of All Kinds", undated
9
28
Notes, Artist Biographies by Unknown, undated
9
29
Notes, History of Mirrors by Helen J. Foster, undated
9
30
Notes, Miscellaneous and Lists by Helen J. Foster, circa 1942
9
31
Notes, Picture Frames; "The Art of Framing" by John R. Foster, undated
9
32
Notes, Reproductions Published by Foster Brothers, undated
9
33

Series 5: Miscellaneous Business Records , 1898-1939
7 Folders
(Box 10)

Included in this series are copyright and trademark information, a building permit, and records relating to an exhibition of etchings by Dorsey Potter Tyson held at Foster Brothers.
Description Container Select
Building Permit for Arlington, Mass., Factory, 1918
10
1
Census of Manufacturers, 1929-1939
10
2
Contracts (Telephone and Electric Co.), 1898-1907
10
3
Copyright Registration for Photograph, "Irene" and Print, "Your Picture of Today Will be the Keepsake of Tomorrow", 1898, 1926
10
4
Exhibition of Etchings by Dorsey Potter Tyson, 1937
10
5
Insurance, Workmen's Compensation, 1912
10
6
Trademark of Foster Brothers, 1899
10
7

Series 6: Printed Material , 1893-1947
0.25 Linear feet
(Box 10, OV 25)

The majority of printed material relates to advertising and consists of catalogs and brochures about frames, mirrors, and published reproductions. Unless otherwise noted, all items were produced by or are about Foster Brothers. Scrapbooks in Series 7 contain additional printed material.
Description Container Select
Advertising, undated
10
8
Advertising (R. H. Macy and Co., featuring Foster Brothers' mirrors, frames, and reproductions), undated
10
9
Broadside, undated
(see: OV 25)
10
10
Brochures about Reproductions (not Foster Brothers), undated
10
11
Brochures and Catalogs, 1890s-1930s, undated
3 Folders
see also OV 25
10
12-14
Business Card of Helen Foster, undated
10
15
Clippings, About/Mentioning Foster Brothers, undated, 1893-1947
10
16
Clippings, About Picture Frames, 1934, undated
10
17
Clippings, Miscellaneous Subjects, undated, 1893
10
18
Exhibition Catalogs, 1893-1894
10
19
Frame Labels, undated
10
20
Order Form for Reproductions, undated
10
21
Pamphlet about History of 2 Park Street, Boston (Houghton Mifflin Co.), 1923
10
22
Reproductions of Silhouettes Published by Foster Brothers, undated
10
23
Broadside, undated
OV 25
Brochures and Catalogs
OV 25

Series 7: Scrapbooks , 1906-1942
1.3 Linear feet
(Boxes 10, 12, BV 20-22)

8 volumes of scrapbooks contain printed material including clippings, advertising material, brochures and catalogs, form letters, and reproductions of miniatures and silhouettes published by Foster Brothers.
Description Container Select
Vol. 1: Advertising, 1906-1914
10
24
Vol. 2: Advertising, 1915-1923, undated
(see BV 20)
10
25
Vol. 3: Advertising, 1934-1942
(see BV 21)
10
26
Vol. 4: Advertising in Magazines, 1918-1919
10
27
Vol. 5: Advertising in Magazines, 1924-1934, undated
(disbound volume; see Box 12)
10
28
Vol. 6: Advertising in Magazines, 1927-1931
10
29
Vol. 7: Reproductions of Miniatures and Silhouettes (published by Foster Brothers), undated
(See: Box 12)
10
30
Vol. 8: Reproductions of Drawings by Alfred Shaw, Francis Getty, Kenneth Conant (copyrighted and published by Foster Brothers), 1921-1930
(see BV 22)
10
31
Loose Items [from unidentified scrapbook(s)], undated, 1924-1932
10
32
Vol. 5: Advertising in Magazines, undated, 1924-1934
12 (sol)
Vol. 7: Reproductions of Miniatures and Silhouettes (published by Foster Brothers), undated
12 (sol)
Vol. 2: Advertising, 1915-1923, undated
BV 20
Vol. 3: Advertising, 1934-1942
BV 21
Vol. 8: Reproductions of Drawings by Alfred Shaw, Francis Getty, Kenneth Conant (copyrighted and published by Foster Brothers), 1921-1930
BV 22

Series 8: Family Papers , 1875-1973
6 Folders
Box 10

Family papers consist of a small number of personal papers of Foster Brothers founders, John Roy and Stephen Bartlett Foster, and also of Helen Foster Osborne (John's daughter). A letter from Edward Everett Hale, 1889, accepting an invitation addressed to Mr. Foster could have been intended for either Stephen or John Foster. Also included are a silhouette of John R. Foster cut by Doris Burdick, and his personal account book with some brief diary entries that pre-date the establishment of Foster Brothers by more than a decade. Of particular interest is Helen Foster Osborne's 1973 reminiscence of having her portrait painted by William Paxton in 1923. Helen Foster Osborne's correspondence with Ernest Donnelley, post-dating the closing of Foster Brothers, concerns the sale of printing plates and dies from the miniature reproduction business.
Description Container Select
To Mr. Foster, Letter from Edward Everett Hale, 1889
10
33
John R. Foster, Account Book, 1875-1880
10
34
John R. Foster, Silhouette Cut by Doris Burdick, undated
10
35
Stephen B Foster, Will, 1915
10
36
Helen Foster Osborne, Correspondence with Ernest Donnnelly, 1945-1946
10
37
Helen Foster Osborne, Photograph of Portrait of her by William Paxton (with reminiscence), 1923, 1973
10
38

Series 9: Photographs , circa 1880s-1918
5 Folders
(Box 10)

Photographs are of the Foster brothers, John Roy and Stephen Bartlett Foster. One portrait of each is in a "Keepsake Frame," a popular item designed and manufactured by Foster Brothers. Other people appearing in photographs are employees, most of whom are unidentified. Also included are pictures of the Foster Brothers' first frame factory on Cambridge Street, picturing the exterior of the factory and the "fitting room."
Description Container Select
People, Employees, 1896, undated
10
39
People, Foster, John Roy, 1880s-circa 1914
10
40
People, Foster, Stephen Bartlett, circa 1880s-1890s, undated
10
41
Places, Foster Brothers Factory, Cambridge St. (exterior and "fitting room"), 1890s-1918
10
42
Places, John and Stephen Foster, Charles Street Apartment, undated
10
43

Make a Request

  • To request an appointment to view materials, make your selections using the checkboxes and click the "Reading Room" button. Please note, you will receive the full box.
  • To request reproductions, make your selections using the checkboxes and click the "Reproduction" button.