The BENSON has all but faded into obscurity, but & HEDGES was still quite readable in June 2005 on this Fifth Avenue building. This is the back end of the same building that housed Wm. Knabe, Pianos from 1907 to 1927.
Benson & Hedges, manufacturers of cigars, cigarettes and smoking tobacco, were in the building next door from around the same time. They signed a 10-year lease on a store and basement in a new 6-story building to be erected at 435 5th Ave. in 1906 (The New York Times, Mar. 10, 1906, p. 16), signed a later 21-year lease in 1913 (The New York Times, Oct. 11, 1913, p. 22) and then stayed until 1950!
This Benson & Hedges ad from 1920 has the address 435 5th Ave.
Benson & Hedges used their 5th Ave. location for a retail store, storage and offices. A factory for manufacture was located at 32 W. 18th St.
The company founders were Richard Benson and William Hedges, who established themselves as tobacco dealers in London in 1873. Richard Benson left the business in 1885, and William Hedges was succeeded by his son, Alfred Paget Hedges. The US branch in New York opened approx. 1899. Afred P. Hedges remained president until 1928 when the parent company sold the US branch to American interests (Hitt, Farwell & Co. and the Murray Hill Trust Co. (New York Times, Jan 20, 1928, p. 32)). In 1958 Phillip Morris bought the rights to the Benson & Hedges trademark. In 1947 Benson & Hedges, 435 5th Ave., New York 16, NY, registered the trademark specifying "first use in commerce: 1864."
The New York Public Library's Digital Collections shows an undated image by the Wurts Brothers (probably 1930s) of the Benson & Hedges building with Benson & Hedges on the ground floor and the Gypsy Tea Shop on the 2nd floor ("Come In and Make a Wish").
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