Better Than Chocolate: Museum Matters May 2018

Posted on May 4th, 2018 by

Just ten days until Mother’s Day and I know that many of you are still looking for that last minute gift (and many of you are hinting to spouses or kids what might make a nice treat). But before you jump to that high caloric alternative, let me suggest what JMM has to offer.

First, we have great programs by (and about) distinguished women…like your mother. There are still tickets available for Sunday’s discussion of “Justice and Faith” with Judge Chaya Friedman. It’s also not too early to make a reservation for our Annual Meeting on May 17th, featuring a pair of biographers of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. You can pick up a signed copy of My Own Words for your mother and I Dissent for your kids.

But if you can’t make the programs maybe you just want to come down to see Amending America before it moves on at the end of the month. Trivia note: President Wilson proclaimed the first Mother’s Day in May 1914, six years before the 19th Amendment was ratified giving women the right to vote – perhaps a more tangible way to honor his mother. We will be open on Mother’s Day and both the Sunday and Monday of Memorial Day weekend, but don’t try to visit on Sunday/Monday of May 20/21 as we close up shop for Shavuot.

Finally, if you need something you can wrap, stop by the shop – we have books for kids to illustrate called “Amazing Mom” and “Grandma is a Superhero” (and you can get a jumpstart on Father’s Day with “Dad Can Do Anything”); every type of Mah Jongg merchandise you can imagine (except actual Mah Jongg sets); and I’m delighted to report that last month’s sell-out book The Woman’s Hour by Elaine Weiss is back in stock. You can always put a piece of chocolate on top of the wrapping.


Upcoming programs
All programs take place at the Jewish Museum of Maryland unless otherwise noted. Please contact our Programs Manager at / 443-873-5177 with any questions or for more information.


Sunday, May 6th

The Intersection Between Justice and Faith
Sunday, May 6th at 1:00pm
Speaker: Judge Karen “Chaya” Friedman
Get Tickets Now (JMM Members, reserve your seats)

Wednesday, May 9th

Myth vs. Reality:
The Maryland Jew Bill in Historical Context
Wednesday, May 9th at 7:00pm
Speaker: Author Dr. Eric Goldstein
Get Tickets Now (JMM Members, reserve your seats)

Thursday, May 17th

Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Across the Generations
JMM 2018 Annual Meeting
Thursday, May 17th at 6:30pm
Samuel Boltansky Memorial Keynote Speakers:
Authors Mary Hartnett and Debbie Levy
FREE – Register to Reserve Your Seats

>>View the full JMM calendar of events here.<<

Also of Interest
The JMM is pleased to share our campus with B’nai Israel Congregation. For additional information about B’nai Israel events and services for Shabbat, please visit  For more of this month’s events from BIYA, please visit or check out BIYA on Facebook.

Wednesday, May 23rd

Americans and the Nazi Threat: What Did Marylanders Know?
Wednesday, May 23rd at 7:00pm
Location: Gordon Center for Performing Arts
3506 Gwynnbrook Ave, Owings Mills, MD   21117

While media around the United States provided frequent and vivid accounts of rising Nazi brutality in Europe, Americans tended to focus inward in the 1930–40s. Step back in time with Museum and local experts to explore headlines and artifacts from that time period, including news articles from around Maryland unearthed by volunteer citizen historians.

Sunday, May 6th

Sefardi Kirtan: Devotional Song
Creative Alliance at B’nai Israel
Sunday, May 6th at 4:30pm
Location: B’nai Israel Synagogue
Get Tickets Now

Esther’s Place

Mother’s Day is coming!

Celebrate your Mom, Mama, Ema, Mommy, Grandma, Bubby, or Nana with a gift from Esther’s Place. From mom-themed mugs and activity books to photo frames to jewelry and more, Esther’s Place can help you make Sunday, May 13 just right for the special mother in your life.

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Once Upon a Time…08.11.2017

Posted on April 24th, 2018 by

The Baltimore Jewish Times publishes unidentified photographs from the collection of Jewish Museum of Maryland each week. If you can identify anyone in these photos and more information about them, contact Joanna Church by email at

JMM 2008.99.13

Date run in Baltimore Jewish Times: August 11, 2017

PastPerfect Accession #: 2008.099.013

Status: Unidentified – do you recognize these wedding rin shoppers, here with Marvin J. Greenberg, c. 1953?

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Charge It!

Posted on November 27th, 2017 by

A blog post by Collections Manager Joanna Church. To read more posts by Joanna click HERE.

In celebration (or at least acknowledgement) of that most modern of holiday traditions, Cyber Monday, let’s take a quick look at something that helps make this day possible: the credit card or, in this case, the store charge card.

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, many Baltimore stores eagerly offered their customers credit, installment plans, and the like. Customers were typically known personally to the storekeeper, and their payments (or lack thereof) were tracked in ledgers, by hand.

Trade or advertising card for Hecht’s Reliable Clothing Company, late 19th century.  “CLOTHING ON CREDIT. You are respectfully invited to call at our Store and examine our immense Stock of CLOTHING. Men’s Suits and Overcoats at all Prices. Boys’ Suits and Overcoats at all Prices. Children’s Suits and Overcoats at all Prices. Fall Overcoats at all Prices. In fact, we keep every Style Garment you may ask for, which we will sell you ON INSTALLMENTS, And guarantee our Prices to be as low as any First-Class Clothing House, On Easy Weekly or Monthly Payments, at HECHT’S RELIABLE CLOTHING HOUSE 519 S. Broadway, Between Eastern and Canton Aves.”  Gift of Maxwell Whiteman. JMM 1989.1.1

The charge coin, introduced in the late 19th century and popular with department stores in the early decades of the 20th century, linked a customer to his or her store account (without said customer needing to memorize it) via a number printed on the back of a handy token.

This 1937 card from Hochschild, Kohn & Co. explains, “Your Charge Coin – Carry it on your key-ring. Bring it with you when you shop. Show it to the sales-clerk when you wish to take goods with you. Your charge coin is a time saver, a protection to your account and an almost certain assurance that your keys will be returned, if lost.”  Gift of Town, LLC.  JMM 2000.58.13

Here’s an actual Hochschild, Kohn coin, just an inch and a half long, from the 1920s. Gift of Neal Borden. JMM 2009.51.19

Even more convenient were charge plates, also known as Charga-Plates: metal ID tags, about 2 ½ inches long, with the owner’s name and address embossed for use on an imprinter – no magnetic strips or chips quite yet, but at least the clerk didn’t need to write things out by hand. These often came with their own leather carrying case, and looked quite classy, perhaps the mid-century equivalent of flashing your gold card (or whatever today’s “check me out, I can afford that” accessory might be).

A Hutzler Bros. charga-plate with leather wallet, issued to Capt. Hermann B. Stein (though used by his wife Mindell), early 1940s. Gift of Mindell Stein. JMM 1988.184.1a-b

An “Account Plate” with leather wallet, issued to Mrs. Earl Pruce, circa 1950s. Probably useable at several shops, since no particular store is named. Gift of Earl Pruce. JMM 1992.112.6

It’s worth pointing out that these were charge cards, not credit cards; accounts were to be paid in full at the end of the month. These were also usable only at the specific store that issued them, until some city-wide associations – such as Baltimore Shopping Plate (good at Hutzler’s, Hochschild Kohn, Hess Shoes, and Hecht’s) or Charg-It of Baltimore (founded in 1953 by Jewish businessman P.L. Kling) – broadened the scope to include several member shops. Later, national and international credit services came along, making things even more convenient for the shopper … though rather less interesting to those interested in local ephemera.

Another important point is that most of the early cards and plates in our collection are under a man’s name, or “Mrs.”-man’s-name. Not until the 1974 passage of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act were women guaranteed the right to obtain credit in their own name.

I should also note that I am perfectly aware that many of my readers are much more familiar with these cards and concepts than I – Gen X shopper that I am, credit card holder only since 1993 – but I have a feeling that, say, some of our high school interns, with their online payment apps, would be even more perplexed than I was when I encountered a charge plate in the collections of my first museum job. (It was kindly explained to me by my boss, who still had her Washington Shopping Plate card.)  If I’ve overstated or oversimplified anything, please let us know! Take a break from shopping today to share your stories of your first store charge card!

Entertained by these odd little collectibles? Here are a few more:

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