Artifact of the Month — May 2019

By Ernesto Rodriguez, Alamo Associate Curator

The Alamo Collection contains artifacts that represent periods other than the famous battle in 1836. These items are important because they help to explain and illustrate the evolution of the site through the years. One such item is a silver letter opener from the Saul Wolfson Dry Goods Company.

Saul Wolfson immigrated to the United States from Germany in 1858, and went to work in a factory in Connecticut. Wolfson enlisted in the U.S. Army when the Civil War broke out and served until it ended. After the war, he moved to Texas. In 1868, Saul and his brother opened a dry goods store on Alamo Plaza in a building along the old west wall. The brothers later relocated their business to Main plaza where it remained in operation until the brothers split up 1892.

Following the separation, Saul operated a shop on Commerce near Alamo Street. In 1918, the business celebrated its 50th anniversary. Wolfson was known for implementing the “one price for all” policy in his store. Saul Wolfson died in 1923 and the business closed its doors a year later.

This letter opener promoted Wolfson’s long gone iconic San Antonio store. It serves as a reminder of San Antonio’s rich business history associated with both Alamo Plaza and Main Plaza, and the important role the city played as a commercial center in the late 19th century.