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John Finnegan ice sign

Contributed by Briar Levit on Jul 24th, 2020. Artwork published in
circa 1910
John Finnegan ice sign
Photo: Briar Levit. License: All Rights Reserved.

25 lbs. 50 lbs. 75 lbs. 100 lbs.
Coal Ice Wood
John Finnegan
Moving and Expressing
3328 So. Oakley Ave. Lafayette 8456

The internet seems to hold no relevant information about John Finnegan or his moving and expressing service. [editor’s note: see the comments for more info.] The sign measures 7″×11″ and may have been used as an indicator sign.

Judging by the type, it was printed after 1904, the year Franklin Gothic by Morris Fuller Benton was released at ATF. Franklin Gothic is used for the address line. Another ATF release, Copperplate Gothic (Frederic W. Goudy and Clarence Marder, 1901) is used for “LBS.” “JOHN FINNEGAN / COAL / WOOD” is set with Alternate Gothic No. 1, the narrowest width of Alternate Gothic’s three styles..

“ICE” is set with wood type: Gothic (Nesbitt 1837). The numbers match the Gothic 4 Line size. The serif used for “MOVING and EXPRESSING” could be Bold Antique (ATF).

13 Comments on “John Finnegan ice sign”

  1. This is really special! What size is it?

  2. Could “Lafayette 8456” be an early phone number?

    Zip codes weren’t introduced until the 1960s, and would be a digit longer…

  3. Briar informed us that this is in fact not a business card, but a larger item measuring 7″×11″. It may have been used as an indicator sign. I’ve added this info to the post.

  4. Is it a confirmed fact that this is from Lafayette, Louisiana? Could it rather be two addresses in Chicago? 3328 So(uth) Oakley Ave and 8456 [South] Lafayette Ave are 25 miles apart. Also, there’s a John Finnegan (b. 1917) who lived at 3328 So Oakley Avenue, Chicago, in 1940.

  5. and Lafayette was a telephone exchange in Chicago!

    The phone number would have been LA3–8456 (or 523–8456).

  6. Yes, that’s what I was suspecting. I love the design of it as a business card, it would be way ahead of its time to do a business card in an industrial aesthetic at a time when most business cards looked like this, but I was wondering if you could really get these typefaces at business card print sizes.

  7. I believe the “Lafayette” here is an old (Chicago) telephone exchange name. Lafayette 8456 would be the phone number.

  8. Thank you, Benjamin and Mitch! (Your comments were moderated at the same time.) That’s a wonderful addition. They should have used a telephone label ☎︎!

    In the post, we initially assumed that this company was from Lafayette, Louisiana. In the light of the new info, I’m changing the location to Chicago.

  9. Raymond Finnegan says:
    Nov 30th, 2020 1:23 am

    This was my grandfather’s business. This sign is an example of the cards that was place on the customers residence with the number on the top of the size of the block of ice you wanted that day. 3328 Oakley Ave was the address of the Finnegan Home.  This sign was an early sign when the business was run out of the house.  LaFayette was the phone #.  I believe the business closed in 1942 because my father and 2 of my uncles were drafted into WW2.

    Hope this Helps,

    R. Michael Finnegan

  10. Raymond, it’s fantastic to hear from you! Glad you stumbled upon this post. Thank you for chiming in and providing additional information.

  11. Marc Finnegan says:
    May 9th, 2021 2:06 am

    This was my grandfathers business. My Father ran the business until he was drafted in 1942 into the army. He came home on leave and closed down the business.

    M. K. Finnegan

  12. Whiten Black was a different typeface released in 1963, one of the last metal fonts from ATF.

    Luc Devroye says it was based on Bold Antique. VGC made a 2-inch film font, which appeared in the 1972 catalog.…

  13. According to Mac McGrew and other sources, Whitin was a reissue of Benton’s Bold Antique from 1905 under a new name. Here’s an announcement in Advertising Requirements, volume 11, issue 10 from 1963.

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