Manuscript Ledger of the firm of Anthony Boch, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Wigmakers and Hairdressers, and supplier of Theatrical Wigs, 1877-1932: "Register of wigs in store of A. Boch, 922 Race St., Philada."

Folio, 184 manuscript pages, with blanks, bound in old calf, lacks spine strip and rear board, front board detached, warped, worn, scuffed and dusty, first several leaves are loose, several leaves at rear loose, otherwise good, entries written in ink, in legible hand.

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The ledger contains a running inventory with listings of over two thousand wigs with their costs, prices, and descriptions. There is an added bonus of having over 250 small ink drawings of the various types of wigs next to their listing. The ledger is divided into three sections, the first for financial accounts, the second a registry of over 2,000 wigs, and the third for revenues. Pages 3-37 are dated 13 February -25 June, 1878, and shows financial accounts of the company, orders received, debts, credits, etc. Pages 38-64 carry a registry of wigs in stock, with stock numbers starting at 600 and decreasing to 100. Pages 65-91, shows the stock numbers of wigs from 601 up to 896, plus 2 sheets inserted taking the numbering up to 1,000. Pages 92-124 contain wigs numbered 1500 and decreasing to 1001. Pages 125-153 contains wig stock numbers 1501-1999. Page 154 is blank. Pages 155-187 contains wig stock numbers 3001-3452. From 188 to 645 are blank and pages 646-648 are "Revenues," containing real estate purchases, mortgages, etc.

Many of the wigs were either for theatrical performances or costume balls. There is a wig for Shylock and other Shakespearean characters. Some are identified by dramatic characters played such as Falstaff, Schiller, Washington, Lincoln, Mikado, PooBah, Irving, or Othello. Other wigs are identified by type such as Negro, roundhead, tonsure, pompadour, or cavalier.  The wigs were made from angora, goat, human, or yak hair. Customers included other costume firms, individuals, theatrical companies, or clubs. The "Polish D Society" was a frequent purchaser. A typical description of a wig might read:

"Grey Pickwick, high forehead, hair all black - brushed up from back of neck to make it stand out fanlike."

Later notes are made of the fate of the wig, "sold," "worn out," or "discarded." "Lost" is another means by which the wigs disappeared. Surprisingly, a large number of wigs were lost at the "Freedom" Pageant in 1926 - approximately 60. This was the year of the Sesquicentennial Exposition in Philadelphia, in which there was a very large exhibit devoted to Freedom. Possibly the losses could be attributed to the fact that there was heavy rain for half the days of the Exposition and the wigs may have been ruined, it hardly seems credible that the wearers would have been so careless as to lose such a large number.

Sometimes the ledger will state who bought the wig and for how much. Some of the wigs appear to be for personal use, several wigs are sold to "priests."  Most of the entries in black ink were made in the late 19th Century and early 20th. The red dispersal notes go up as late as 10 March 1932. The ledger offers a record of a highly unusual trade.

In addition to the bound ledger there are 3 separate manuscript items containing lists of additional wigs, their stock numbers and notations of their dispersal, which run numerically with the ledger:

1. "List of wigs whose numbers are below No. 100," 5 pages, with pencil notation: "marked thus - Numbered again 1/26/1911."  Written in red ink are the disbursal notations, many of which were "Lost in Pageant House 10/1/12."  (Unclear what this note means, perhaps a fire or one of the many pageants that used to take place in the city). Also includes 3 small drawings in ink of wigs.

2. "List of [x] Bought of Chas. Bloch, Jan. 02 for $30," 6 pages, Lists Wig Nos. 2000-21936 on the reverse side of the letterhead of the company when they were at the South Eleventh Street address (c1888-1911). Includes 12 small ink sketches of wigs, price of wigs, and red disbursal notes for the wigs.

3. List of Wigs Nos. 2566-2592, 3 pages, a group of wigs bought in August 1926 with prices paid and suggested selling price.

History of Anthony Boch, Wigmakers

Anthony Boch was a custom wig making establishment. They provided hand-made hairpieces to a select clientele and in years past supplied custom wigs and cosmetics to the Philadelphia Opera Company. They were also for a time hairdressers. The business passed from father to son for three generations. Anthony B. L. "Bernboy" Boch (1917-2010) was the final generation to run the business. He was educated in the Philadelphia Public Schools and attended the University of Pennsylvania for a brief period, before leaving to take over the family business. "Bernboy," as he was called, served in WWII, drafted into the Army after Pearl Harbor. He served in the military police in England and Belgium and rose to the rank of sergeant. His fluency in German made him valuable in guarding German officer POW's. He was present at the Battle of the Bulge. He retired in 1992 to his home in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, where he died in 2010.

The founder of the company was "Bernboy's" grandfather, Anton Boch, who was born at Frankfurt am Main, Germany, in 1819. He appears to have immigrated to Philadelphia sometime before he started his wig making and hair dressing business in 1848. The firm of Anthony Boch is stated in its advertisements to have been founded in 1848, other sources state 1847. The first time Anthony Boch shows up in the Philadelphia City Directory is for the year 1850, located at 18 Arcade Court, a small alley running north from today's Bainbridge Street, just east of 9th Street, in Philadelphia. Boch was at this location till perhaps 1859, as by 1860 he was listed at 106 N. 5th Street and living at 17 Carman Place (Perth Street), a small alley running from Arch to Cherry Street between 7th and 8th Streets. Boch was at this location until 1866, when he moved the business to 922 Arch Street, at which location he remained until he died on 4 November 1886.

Boch married a woman by the name of Anna Der Jung, who was born in the Grand Duchy of Hesse, Germany, in June of 1827. They likely married in America as their first child, Gustavus A. Boch, was born in Philadelphia on 23 December 1859, more than ten years after he was already established in city. A second child, a daughter, by the name of Sophia, was born in 1862, followed by a third child, a son Bernhardt L. Boch. This appears to be the only three children who lived to adulthood.

In 1880, Anton's oldest son Gustavus is found entering the business and by 1885, Anton's second son, Bernhardt joined the company. When the 1888 Philadelphia City Directory was issued, the company, now run by Anton's sons, had moved to 204 S. 11th Street and conducted business at this address until 1911, when they moved to 129 S.13th Street. From 1911 until the year 1920 they remained on 13th Street. The family appears to have lived over top the business when they were on 11th and 13th Streets from 1888 to 1920.

The 1900 Census for Philadelphia has the brothers' mother Anna living with them at the South 11th Street location. At this point, in 1900, neither son had yet married. However, by 1911, Gustavus married a woman by the name of Johanna Byland and in 1916, his brother Bernhardt married a woman by the name of Bertha A. Schliephake. Unfortunately for Gustavus, he died later in the same year he married (1911). Like his father, he was cremated.

Bernhardt and Bertha did have child, a son named Anthony B. L. "Bernboy" Boch. This son Anthony appears to have taken over the company from his father and became the third generation of the long running firm. He was the final owner of the company when he retired in 1992.

In later years, there were a couple of other locations for the business. One was at 1722 Chestnut Street for a brief time beginning in 1921 and then at 1729 Chestnut Street by 1931. The company's final location was at 2024 Locust Street when it was closed in 1992, after a 144 year history.

An unusual ledger -