Capitalism by Gaslight Exhibition

Capitalism by Gaslight: The Shadow Economies of 19th-Century America: The Exhibition. At the Library Company of Philadelphia, January-August, 2012. 1314 Locust St., Philadelphia, PA 19123. Gallery hours 9:00-4:45 Monday-Friday.

Drawing on books, pamphlets, newspapers, magazines, prints, photographs, and ephemera in the Library Company’s collection, guest curator Wendy Woloson explores underground urban commerce in the 19th century in our exhibition “Capitalism by Gaslight: The Shadow Economies of 19th-Century America.”

The exhibition focuses on how many Americans earned their livings outside the spheres of wholesale and retail commerce, conducting economic transactions in illicit and semi-legal ways. From pick-pocketing to gambling, counterfeiting to prostitution, “Capitalism by Gaslight” describes the myriad ways people participated in an earlier, shadowy realm of commerce that required a surprising degree of creativity, cunning, and financial acumen.

View the online exhibition here:

A shout-out from the NYT here: