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Cornell University School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions


Wanamaker's Temple: The Religion of Business in an Iconic Department Store


by Nicole C. Kirk,
The Philadelphia Inquirer, November 4, 2018

In the 1890s, cartoonists lampooned the Christian commitment of John Wanamaker, Philadelphia's great merchant. Puck's front cover featured two Wanamakers. "Pious John" was dressed in a somber Sunday suit. But "Smart John," decked out in a loud plaid suit, with a book titled Political and Business Schemes stuffed in his pocket, was whispering in the ear of "Pious John." A cartoon in a magazine titled Judge depicted a plump Wanamaker standing on a pedestal named "Bargain Counter." Holding a Ten Commandment-like tablet, he announces a sale of collar buttons so cheap "they will almost be given away." "I Profit sighs," the tablet concluded, "any old thing for the sake of profit."


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