The “Scary” Side of the Store

Happy Halloween, everybody! G. Fox Building “at Halloween”It looks like the G. Fox building once had a few bats in its belfry! (Not really, of course! Mrs. Auerbach wouldn’t stand for it!)

Since there really isn’t anything Halloween-related in the G. Fox & Co. materials in our collection, I thought I would take this opportunity to write about the aspect of this collection that really “scares” me off. There’s really nothing scary about these materials; it’s just that in the diverse range of items that form this collection, these documents are not among my favorites. That’s not to say that some of you might not find them irresistible, however! Just what are these items I have heretofore been somewhat afraid to talk about? Legal documents.

The majority of legal documents in the collection were created by Moses Fox. Some of the more interesting ones concern the agreement between him and his sister, Emma Fox Plaut, and sister-in-law, Sadie Fox, regarding the transfer of ownership of the store over to him. After his death, Gerson Fox had left shares of the store to each of his children, but by 1917, Moses Fox was the sole owner of the company. There are also materials relating to Moses Fox’s purchase of the Brown Thomson & Co., a store he (and later his daughter, Beatrice) continued to operate independently of his own department store.

While many of the legal materials help to document aspects of the company, a few of them are just downright bizarre. The ones I am specifically referring to are the patent assignments that Moses Fox had in his possession. What makes them so odd is that none of them are made out to Moses Fox himself, or anyone else in the Fox family. In fact, some of these patent assignments concern individuals from New Jersey and New York while others concern the Smyth Manufacturing Company of Hartford. Perhaps Moses Fox was involved in some way with the Smyth Manufacturing Company, but I have yet to find a connection.

I am sure a researcher will come in one day and be able to uncover all their hidden secrets, but I’m afraid these documents will just have to wait until such a person arrives because all their legalese leaves me with a slight case of the shivers.

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