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Fancy Cards from Mrs Clough Presents
Historic Portsmouth #305

This rare merchant trade card immediately drew my eye. Although these early advertisements used stock images from a salesman’s catalog, this is the first I’ve seen that depicts an African American figure. Scanning the Portsmouth business directories, it appears that Mrs. Charles H. Clough and her husband ran separate stores on Congress Street. (Continued below)

From 1877 until 1905 her shop appears at #97, a building that stood across from the end of Middle Street, later demolished to create Maplewood Avenue. The address then shifts briefly to 99 Congress and then they moved (or the street numbers changed) to #183. Mrs. Clough ran one of half a dozen millinery shops downtown while her husband sold the "Fancy Goods" and operated a "bonnet bleachery". Their detailed ad in the 1890 directory guarantees "a constant supply" of hats, kid gloves and mourning millinery from Mrs. Clough. Her husband sold wholesale cheese, butter, lard, beans and maple syrup at their other location at 68 State Street. Charles was also a city treasurer and justice of the peace and a member of Odd Fellows and the United Order of Pilgrim Fathers. The couple lived at 89 State Street (and later #495). They appear in listings until at least 1920. (Courtesy Collection. Research by Maryellen Burke.)


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