Buffalo Millineries: Sinclair, Rooney & Co

Aaaaand we’re back after a long hiatus! In this post, we’re talking about Sinclair, Rooney & Co (SR&Co from here on out) and taking a look at their ads from The Illustrated Milliner.

SR&Co. were “jobbers”, or “importers, manufacturers and wholesalers of millinery, ribbons, flowers, feathers, silks, and velvets.” Their namesakes are Edward A. Rooney, the General Manager, and John Sinclair, the President. Also mentioned in their ads are Henry C. Gerber, the Vice President, and Dean R. Nott, the Secretary and Treasurer. I’m not sure when they became a company, but they’re mentioned as early as 1902*. In 1905, Gerber and Nott splintered off and formed their own company, Gerber, Nott & Co. They were located at 492 Washington street (which is sadly now a parking lot), down the street from where SR&Co’s new building would be.

SR&Co’s first office was located downtown at 34-36-38 E Eagle Street, with a factory located at 361-363-365 Washington Street. They later built a new building (which is now on the National Register of Historic Places) at the corner of Washington Street and East Mohawk in 1909, and stayed there until 1926. Here’s a note of it in the July-Dec 1909 issue:

1909The last ad of theirs that I could find was in an edition of The Illustrated Milliner from July 1922. I couldn’t find any info on whether SR&Co. moved from their Washington Street building in 1926, or if they closed. I can find SR&Co ads from 1902, but they don’t show up again until 1915 (not counting the fact that there are no available issues from July 1902-1906 or 1912). It seems like SR&Co was one of the largest millinery supply houses in Buffalo, so I’m intrigued as to why I can’t find any info that would make sense of the disruption in advertisements or when they closed. I’m wondering if the library downtown has any info. If I ever make it there and if they have info, I’ll be sure to update this post! On to the ads…





August 1915

September 1915

February 1916

February 1916

March 1916

March 1917

August 1917

November 1917


1917_window display
1917 || See a larger image of this window display HERE


January 1918

May 1918

July 1918

1920_4_snclair_ jpg
January 1920

January 1920

March 1920

March 1920

April 1920

April 1920

April 1920

January 1921

January 1922

January 1922

July 1922

Weren’t those darling?! I love seeing the progression of the designs, typography, and illustrations as they move from the turn of the century into the 1920’s.

|| Unrelated to millinery but still interesting, was a mention of the men from SR&Co contributing to the WWI effort by building a community farm:


In addition, an issue from October 1918 noted that SR&Co had twelve men fighting on the front lines. ||

Well, that wraps up this post! Thanks for reading!


*According to HathiTrust.org, The Illustrated Milliner was published in NY, NY from 1900-1934. The earliest volumes available are from 1902, so SR&Co may have been mentioned in those volumes.


The Illustrated Milliner on HathiTrust.org | LINK

Palmer’s Views of Buffalo | LINK


Buffalo Millineries Part 1

Like most Buffalonians, I absolutely love Buffalo. I know we have a lot of history here, and were once one of the largest, most bustling cities in American History. Knowing this, there had to have been some sort of millinery history, right?!  I did a quick Google search, and sure enough a wealth of information came up. A publication by the name of The Illustrated Milliner came up a number of times, and from there I dove right in and searched through every issue I could find. The Illustrated Milliner described itself as “The American Authority On Millinery” and was published by The Illustrated Milliner Company in New York, NY. The publication is full of old ads, articles about the industry, updates on styles (from Paris, of course!), and sometimes even how-to’s.

I’m going to do a few posts on Buffalo Millineries as there is too much info to contain in one post, so this first one is going to go over the millineries and supply houses, their locations, and clippings of articles relevant to the industry in Buffalo.

It seems the largest millinery houses were:

Sinclair, Rooney & Co.  (Since 1902; 34-36-38 E Eagle/Factory: 465-469 Washington St)
Siegel Bros (Ca. 1922; 511 Washington)
Gerber, Nott & Co (Ca. 1915; 492-494-496 & 497-499 Washington St)

Others mentioned are:
The Enterprise/White Enterprise Millinery (Ca. 1897, Main Street)
Central Hat Manufacturing Co (Est. 1900, 493 Washington)
Madame Wallman (Ca. 1902, 511-513 Main Street)
Reed Brothers (Had a Buffalo office; Since at least 1907; 511 Washington St)
FC Knopf (Around since at least 1907; 13 East Mohawk Street)
Theodore Weissinger & Co (Est. 1908, 487 Washington)
Buffalo Hat Manufacturing/Buffalo Ladies Hats (Since at least 1911; 544 Main St & 5&7 West Huron)
Leon Dubois (feather supplier, since at least 1911; 42 West Huron St)
Buffalo Millinery Supply Co. (Since at least 1913; 482 Washington St)
The Cooper Hat Manufacturing Co (reblockers, ca. 1916; 13 E Mohawk)
L.H. Glenn Co. (Est. 1917, 489 Washington)
Staley Nelson Co (opened 1918, 546 Main St)
Sinclair, O’Rourke, Bone Co., Inc (Est. 1920, 445 Washington St)
Victor Antonucci Millinery Supplies (Est. 1922, 1630 E Genesee)
August J Antonucci/Canadian Millinery Supply Co. (Est. 1922, 1030 E Genesee St)
Mrs. E A Tegler (696 Main St)
New York & Buffalo Hat Co (56 E. Genesee)
Millinery & Decorating Supply (487 Washington)
DW Coyne (jobbing, wholesale millinery, 488 Washington)

The oldest millinery in Buffalo was The Central Hat Manufacturing Co., which was founded in 1900*. They manufactured frames and found success in reblocking pieces. As the city grew, so did it’s market for hats. In fact, the 16th Semi-Annual Millinery Jobbers Association Convention was held in Buffalo, on November 5th-7th, 1908 at the Iroquois Hotel. From what I read in the article in The Illustrated Milliner, they went over pricing, grievances on items damaged in shipment; nothing too exciting, unfortunately.

*An article in a 1909 issue mentions a Pittsburgh woman who visited Buffalo in 1897 and then opened a millinery named The Enterprise Millinery. It didn’t say what year The Enterprise was opened, however, so Central Hat Mfg Co may or may not be the first millinery. The article mentioned the name Madame Wallman, but went on to title an illustration as “Interior views of Mrs. White’s store.” I don’t know if that was a brainfart typo situation, but I’d like to think it was and that Madam Wallman owned both The Enterprise Millinery and Madame Wallman’s Millinery. You can read the article here: LINK

1917 Advert. SOURCE

Fast forward more than a decade, and it seems that Buffalo’s millineries and supply houses set a standard and grew rapidly. Buffalo’s prime location – being close to ports, Canada, and NYC – contributed to its growth. Some trade insiders even used the phrase, “Buy in Buffalo.” The below article from the January 1920 issue goes over the growth of the more popular millinery houses:


I couldn’t find any issues past 1922 online, however. Buffalo’s millinery market seemed to have slowly died off in the late 60’s/70’s when people didn’t wear hats or veils much anymore. However, there are a handful of milliners and hair adornment creators popping up in Buffalo now, which is lovely to see!

Location, Location, Location:
Most of the millineries in Buffalo were located on Washington Street or Main Street downtown. Only a few buildings survive; one being an apartment complex called “The Sinclair” (which was the old Sinclair, Rooney & Co factory), and the other, formerly FC Knopf and The Cooper Hat Manufacturing Co, is now an office building to the left of Casa Di Pizza. Everything has either been bulldozed and built over, or became parking lots/parking garages.

Below: Is an advert with an illustration of the Sinclair, Rooney & Co office, and below that image is what the factory building looks like today. The office building at 34-36-38 East Eagle seems to be a Parking Ramp (though it could have been a part of the old AM&A’s building at one time. Google Maps and more research proved inconclusive 😦 ).

Sources: Top: The Illustrated Milliner, 1902 // Bottom: Google Maps

Below: The building FC Knopf and The Cooper Hat Manufacturing Co used to be in, 13 E. Mohawk, which is technically the door to the left of Casa Di Pizza. You can see the red awning says “13.”

Source: Google Maps

*Note: in the recent Cats Like Us interview I did, I mentioned the old Club Diablo building was a millinery, but I was wrong. A closer look revealed that the millinery in question was now either a parking lot, or the apartment building that’s next to said parking lot.

You can find the online issues for The Illustrated Milliner here: LINK

That’s all for now! Next up, I’ll be showing the advertisements for the top millinery houses in Buffalo. Stay tuned!