Tuesday, May 29, 2012

E. Kosches & Son Furniture

Last week, while browsing some old digital photos I took back in 2006, I came across a shot of a relic sign I'd completely forgotten about.  The sign belonged to Kosches Furniture, at 2171 Third Avenue in East Harlem.  Having no recollection of even taking the photo, finding it was like discovering this great sign all over again.  It's amazing how recently such relics were common enough in the city to be forgettable. 

E. Kosches & Son, at 2171 Third Ave. (T. Rinaldi)

Some light Internet delving turns up nothing particularly informative about Kosches Furniture, and no other photos of its lovely sign.  The DOB web site suggests that the business installed this sign in 1935, which sounds about right to me, from the looks of it.  This is when a sign was a sign.  Just look at that streamlined silhouette! 

The splayed "eagle's wing" effect high up on the spire of the Empire State Building seems to have inspired the design of the Kosches sign. (T. Rinaldi)

Whoever designed this made especially nice use of what one might call the splayed "eagle's wing" effect – the tiered taper of the vertical part of the sign, that seems to reference the winged spire of the Empire State Building.  This was a common device among sign designers of the 1930s and 40s (see, for example, the sign of the Veniero Pasticceria).  The lettering, too, is superb period work (get a load of that "E"!).

The neon sign of the Veniero Pasticceria on East 11th Street, with similar silhouette. (T. Rinaldi) 

At this point, you're probably wondering:  is it still there?  The answer, of course, is no.  If it were, I'd run right up, re-shoot it from several angles, bask in its interwar aura, maybe do a sketch of its elevation to satisfy my documentary instinct.  But Google Street View says don't bother.  There is a new sign in its place, advertising the liquor store that occupies 2171 Third Avenue today.  As often happens, the new sign echoes the basic shape of its predecessor, looking something like an up-side-down letter T, with no eagle's wings.  An echo not loud enough.

(Google Streetview)


  1. I am so pleased to see this sign on your blog. My family owned E Kosches & Son from 1888 until 2006 when my Dad and Uncle retired. The sign was indeed installed in the 1930's by my Grandfather (the son in E Kosches & Sons).

    Ann Kosches

  2. Thanks so much for your comment Ann! I really appreciate hearing from people with personal connections with these great old businesses.

  3. Hello my name is Joshua Kosches (Part of the Kosches Family). My grandfather was one of the owners before retiring.

    I love that you placed this photo up on the web. I beleive that evereybody needs to learn more about old New York.

    Story goes that this sign was plced in a high position because of the old 3rd Ave. railroad. Passengers would see it from the train, especially when lighting up at night.

    - Joshua Kosches

  4. I was just looking through my Rolodex and removing old cards, and I found one for Kosches Furniture. I installed a computer system for them in the early 1980s and worked on it with Bob Kosches for several years.