John T. Shayne & Company
, a Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...
-based woman’s clothier, was founded on November 6, 1884 by John Thomas Shayne (b. August 26, 1852) an importer/manufacturer of furs, civic leader and Democratic politician. The firm was formally incorporated on May 23, 1899 and held the distinction of being "the largest business of its kind outside of New York City." . The store was first located at 187-189 State Street
State Street is a large south-north street in Chicago, Illinois, USA and its south suburbs. It begins on the Near North Side at North Avenue. For much of its course, it lies between Wabash Avenue on the east and Dearborn Street/Lafayette Avenue on the west...
in the Chicago Loop
The Loop or Chicago Loop is one of 77 officially designated Chicago community areas located in the City of Chicago, Illinois. It is the historic commercial center of downtown Chicago...
(the city of Chicago’s central business and shopping district) and later moved to the John Crerar Library
The John Crerar Library is a library, which after a long history of independent operations, is currently operated by the University of Chicago. It is recognized as one of the best libraries in the country for research and teaching in the sciences, medicine, and technology...
building at 150 N. Michigan Avenue
Michigan Avenue is a major north-south street in Chicago which runs at 100 east south of the Chicago River and at 132 East north of the river from 12628 south to 950 north in the Chicago street address system...
where it remained until the department store ceased operations in 1979.
The achievements of the Shayne brothers in the manufacture of fine furs helped to bring a new found respect for American goods which were primarily reserved only for the elite European manufacturing houses of Russia, France and Germany. At the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition
The World's Columbian Exposition was a World's Fair held in Chicago in 1893 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus's arrival in the New World in 1492. Chicago bested New York City; Washington, D.C.; and St...
(also known as the Chicago's World Fair), The New York Times reported, "The joint exhibit of C.C Shayne of New-York and John T. Shayne of this city has received awards which, by reason of their number and their language, leave no doubt that the Shayne fur products surpass those made in any part of the world."
On July 10, 1894, John T. Shayne commented to the Committee of Finance of the United States Senate that U.S. furriers were losing significant income from garments that were manufactured overseas and then brought back to this country duty free by tourists. Shayne stated to the Committee of Finance, "I could get up a petition that would almost reach from the Senate Chamber to the White House, but do not wish to encroach upon your valuable time."
America's Burgeoning Mail Order Business
John T. Shayne & Company was one of the earliest Chicago retailers to join in America’s burgeoning mail order
Mail order is a term which describes the buying of goods or services by mail delivery. The buyer places an order for the desired products with the merchant through some remote method such as through a telephone call or web site. Then, the products are delivered to the customer...
business during the turn of the 20th century. Shayne’s first mail order publication dates back to 1906 and is featured in the Chicago Public Library
The Chicago Public Library is the public library system that serves the City of Chicago in Illinois. It consists of 79 branches, including a central library, two regional libraries, and branches distributed throughout the city....
Trade Catalog Collection at the Harold Washington Library
The Harold Washington Library Center is the central library for the Chicago Public Library System. It is named for former Mayor Harold Washington. It is located just south of the Loop 'L', at 400 S. State Street in Chicago. It is a full service library and ADA compliant. As with all libraries in...
Mail order merchandising played an important role in retail distribution during the 20th century. These catalogues provided rural communities access to an array of merchandise; items ranging from tooth paste to prefabricated houses were marketed to small towns and remote rural communities, transforming the way American’s purchased goods.
Chicago area retailers were among the nation’s first companies to publish mail orders. The city was ideally suited for America’s growing mail order business due to its central location, access to a national rail system and advances made in mail delivery. Chicago became a nationally recognized city through the many images that found their way into these mail order catalogs. These publications shaped the nation’s perspective of Chicago and encouraged tourism to the city.
March 21, 1899 Shooting
On March 21, 1899 The New York Times reported, "John T. Shayne, a wealthy furrier, and a prominent Democratic politician, brother of C.C. Shayne of New York, was shot, and probably fatally wounded, this afternoon by Harry H. Hammond, a tailor. The shooting occurred in the cafe of the Auditorium Annex, where Shayne was sitting at lunch with Mrs. Hammond, the divorced wife of Hammond, and two other ladies."
Shayne did miraculously recover from the shooting incident.
Patrick Dennis was an American author. His novel Auntie Mame: An Irreverent Escapade was one of the bestselling American books of the 20th century. In chronological vignettes "Patrick" recalls his adventures growing up under the wing of his madcap aunt, Mame Dennis...
, author of the bestselling novel "Auntie Mame
Auntie Mame is a 1955 novel by Patrick Dennis that chronicles the madcap adventures of a boy, Patrick, growing up as the ward of his deceased father's eccentric sister, Mame Dennis. The book is a work of fiction inspired by the author's eccentric aunt, Marion Tanner, whose life and outlook in many...
" referenced John T. Shayne and Company in his subsequent novel "Little Me
Little Me was the parody "confessional" self-indulgent autobiography of "Belle Poitrine" , subtitled The Intimate Memoirs of the Great Star of Stage, Screen and Television, by Patrick Dennis, who had achieved a great success with Auntie Mame...
". The main character of the novel, Belle Poitrine, describes her shopping spree "I went on a mad round of shopping -diamonds and pearls- from Peacock's, glossy furs from John T. Shayne, dresses of every description from Field's and Carson, Pirie, Scott with shoes to match from O'Connor and Goldberg."
- "The Shayne Furs Admitted by Foreign Experts to be the Best Made". New York, NY: The New York Times, November 5, 1893.
- "Fur Garments At Low Prices.; C. C. Shayne's Attractive and Varied Display of Winter Goods. New York, NY: The New York Times, November 18, 1894."
- "A Show Building for Chicago; John T. Shayne Projects A Structure To Cost Nearly $2,000,000." New York, NY: The New York Times, December 28, 1897.
- "For Honest Advertising.; C.C. Shayne Argues in Support of the Bill to Prevent Misrepresentation." New York, NY: The New York Times, March 10, 1898.
- "John T. Shayne Shot; Attacked by Harry H. Hammond, a Tailor, While in a Chicago Restaurant -- Brother of C.C. Shayne." New York, NY: The New York Times, March 22, 1899.
- "John T. Shayne's Condition.; Chicago Furrier Shot by H.H. Hammond May Recover. New York, NY: The New York Times, March 23, 1899.
- "C.C. Shayne Dies Suddenly At Atlanta; Furrier Had Been Compelled to Turn Back from the West. His Success Remarkable Began as a Railroad News Agent -Failed in '73 -- His Employees Remembered in His Will. New York, NY: The New York Times, February 23, 1906."