The manufacture of boots and shoes for men's wear, ranks among Newark's leading industries, both as to quantity and the superior quality of a large percentage of the product. So decidedly is this the case, that in every leading city and town in the United States, Newark shoes are carried by those dealers who cater to the most fastidious custom trade.

No one house has contributed so largely to this result as that of James A. Banister Co. This establishment was founded in the year 1845, by Isaac Banister, father of the president of this company, who was a thoroughly practical shoemaker, being brought up to the trade from his infancy by his father, who was also a shoemaker. The desire of the house always has been to make only the best goods, and taking the best custom made shoes as their models, they have sought to imitate them in style, fit and wearing qualities. How well they have succeeded, is evidenced by the position the house occupies in the trade after an experience of forty-five or forty-six years.

James A. Banister became a partner with his father in 1852, under the firm name of Isaac Banister & Son, the senior retiring in 1857, and the business was continued by James A. Banister until 1865, with Lyman S. Tichenor, and continued so until the death of Mr. Tichenor, which occurred in 1881. From this time till January 1, 1892, James A. Banister was sole proprietor.

On the first of January 1892, the firm was incorporated under the name of James A. Banister Company, and without any change in the general management - all the stockholders (James A. Banister, John W. Denny, James B. Banister and George A. McLellan) having been connected with the business for several years in the same capacities they now hold.

On account of a strict adherence to the original policy, marked out by the concern at its start, of making only the best goods, the business has grown to be one of the largest in the United States, and its products are recognized as the standard for the highest excellence in the trade.

- Newark, N.J. Illustrated

H I D E   A N D   L E A T H E R

Boots and Leggins.-The Leather-Rubber Goods Division of the Army Quartermaster Department yesterday received the following boot and leggings bids: three hundred fifty pairs of officers' dress field boots, James A. Banister Co., $19.95 and $22; Stetson Shoe Co., $11.50 and $13; Pels Co., $16.50 and $15.50, less 10 per cent; R. H. Hoskins Co., $20; Emil Kaufman Co., $9.94; A. E. Nettleton Co., $13.75; Laing, Son & Harrar, $11; James A. Banister Co., $8.90; Colt & Cromwell Co., $9.90; Hanan & Son, $9.50 and $10. Three hundred and fifty pairs of leather boots: A. E. Nettleton Co., $21; James A. Banister Co., $19.95; Stetson Shoe Co., $11.50 and $13; Hanan & Son $22.75 and $22.

WWI ran from 1914-1918; thus, the date of the publication above must be 1914.

The James A. Banister Company

Manufacturer of Fine Boots & Shoes for Men

An Industry Leader in Newark, New Jersey



JAMES ALBERT BANISTER – The business now conducted under the trade name of the James A. Banister Company, shoe manufacturers, of Newark, New Jersey, is closely interwoven with the industrial history of that city, Isaac Banister having begun the business in 1845. Prior to that time he had been a shoemaker of the old type, no factory being involved. He was an itinerant shoemaker, going from place to place making shoes for the families with which he came in contact. He kept himself employed making shoes when the farm that occupied his attention a good part of the year did not need him.

Further back, Elijah Bannister, father of Isaac Banister*, was a shoemaker, and the family has been able to trace the shoemaking talent at least one generation beyond Elijah, thus making the present Banister the fifth consecutive generation in the shoe business.

     Isaac Banister began his factory career in a loft in Market Street, about where Proctor's Theatre now stands. When his son, James Albert Banister, started in the shoe business in 1852, the factory was located at Nos. 218-220 Market Street. Isaac Banister retired in 1863, and his son took for a partner Lyman S. Tichenor. The latter continued in business until his death in 1881. In 1892 the business was incorporated as the James A. Banister Company, James A. Banister being made president, John W. …

*Isaac Banister dropped the second “n” in his last name. Since that time, the original Banister family is distinguished by having only one “n” in it

Banister Shoe Firm

     Will Quit Business

   NEWARK, N.J., Aug., 20. - (AP)

A certificate of voluntary dissolution of the James A. Banister Company, nationally known shoe manufacturer, was mailed today to the secretary of state by counsel for stockholders.

Company officials said there was no financial pressure, but the outlook was not sufficiently promising to warrant continuance of the company. Liquidation was expected to start immediately.

~ Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – Aug. 21, 1930

"Company officials said there was no financial pressure, but the outlook was not sufficiently promising to warrant continuance of the company."

Left: 1901

Left: 2017

Right: 1922

Banister Shoes in Newark, New Jersey:

maps from 1901-2017


April 1924

Five generations of Craftsmen

have resulted in evolution of Banister Shoes

With the manufacture of 351,114-273 pairs of footwear in 1923, shoe manufacturers of the United States attained the shoe production peak of all time, according to the Boot and Shoe Division of the Department of Commerce.

This total exceeds by approximately 20,000,000 pairs the former high quantity record of 1919. Women's shoes predominated in umbers of pairs produced, with 109,676,409 pairs, and increase of over 4,000,000 pairs over production for the preceding year. Men's shoes held second quantity rank, with an output of 100,282,892 pairs, and increase of about 10,000,000.

Of this enormous quantity of footwear, no statistics are at hand to show what was New Jersey's manufactured quota. This State is not rated in the official surveys as one of the leading states in annual quantity of shoe output, and indeed has never laid claim to this distinction. The State, however, can rightfully assert its supremacy for the quality of footwear within its borders. This claim is freely conceded by experts in this great industry.

Factor in Excellence

One of the factors that makes for the superior excellence of a manufactured product, be it of whatever description, is the degree of knowledge of the craft possessed by the directing heard of a manufacturing concern. It is this that made for superiority of manufactured products of the old world in the infancy of American manufacturing, for European manufactured goods were the result of the expertness which proceeded from training in a particular craft handed down from father to son for generations. With the growth in years of our industries this craft history is being repeated with the result that this transmitted experience and skill has been improved upon the particular product represents the highest excellence in its line.

It is this family craftsmanship which doubtless has been responsible for the reputation for quality enjoyed by one of New Jersey's  greatest shoe manufacturing plants, that of the James A. Banister Shoe Company, of Newark, whose president, James B. Banister, is of the fifth generation identified with the business of making shoes. Sketching the development of the great business of which he is the head, from its humble beginning in this country, Mr. Banister writes:

As New Jersey was one of the original thirteen states of the Union, the history of shoes for new Jersey would cover a period of about one hundred years. So many articles have been written along the lines of the State's industrial development, in which shoes have been included, that it might be more interesting to state the facts at they pertain to our own business, which has been spread over a period of eighty years.

The House of Banister

The writer's grandfather, Isaac Banister, was a shoemaker of no mean repute. Before shoe factories were thought of he made shoes, according to the custom at that time, for families in small settlements. This means he was an itinerant shoemaker, often going from place to place and making shoes for people in one farm organization at a time, supplying them with their requirements until his next visit. This involved making shoes for the biggest member of the family and the smallest. He was capable, however, of taking a stick from the woodpile and forming a last one which to make the shoes, after which he utilized the leather which each farmer tanned from the animals he killed and reserved for the coming of the shoemaker.


This plan continues for a number of years, and it was not until 1840 that anything like a shoe factory was established. At about that time the method was changed, and a shoemaker became a chant, but still the factory plan had not been developed. This was the transition between the itinerant shoemaker and the modern shoe factory, and this merchant shoemaker would buy some leather and prepare uppers so that some workmen would carry the work home and at their convenience make the shoes to be returned when completed, and get his pay for doing the work. The merchant would then take the finished shoes and carry them to his customer, would give him cash involved in the transaction.

A Pioneer Shoemaker

In its early stages the shoe business was confined to hand-stitched shoes, and Isaac Banister was the first man to make a hand turn shoe in this country. Prior to 1850 peg shoes and hand-stitched shoes were all that could be found, but in 1858 a machine was invented by McKay for stitching by machine the outsole to the insole through and through. This process is still in use by many manufacturers in some grades.

In the year 1863 the government bough (sic) millions of pairs of shoes made by this process for the soldiers. During the period from 1858 to 1878 shoes were by this process in addition to the hand-stitched and the peg shoes, but in the year 1878 the Goodyear process was first launched. This imitated the hand-stitched shoes so closely, and was so superior to the McKay sewed or peg shoes, that it soon attained a popularity which has not yet been eclipsed.

The fact is that this process has supplanted to a large degree the old-fashioned hand-sewed shoes, and for that reason the numbers of custom shoemakers who were formerly so numerous have been reduced until they are almost extinct. The fact that Goodyear welted shoes can be made so much like hand-made shoes at much less cost is responsible largely for their popularity. But to a shoemaker there is nothing like a well made hand-stitched shoe.

From the earliest period New Jersey has been noted for its high class footwear, and while some Eastern and some Western states have obtained a larger volume of business, they have never reached the high excellence of the New Jersey product. Not only in this country, but in most of the large cities of the world, if you were to ask people who knew about shoes they would point to New Jersey and probably to Newark, New Jersey, as the home of the highest grade men's shoes.

1924: "It is this family craftsmanship which doubtless has been responsible for the reputation for quality enjoyed by one of New Jersey's greatest shoe manufacturing plants, that of the James A. Banister Shoe Company, of Newark, whose president, James B. Banister, is of the fifth generation identified with the business of making shoes."

Above: Really beautiful watercolor-esque rendering of Branch Brook Park, a crown jewel in the history of Newark, New Jersey. It is assumed that James B. Banister located the final Banister Manufactory precisely where he did to access this park. Imagine taking your lunch break here! In 1915, the roar of future highway interchanges would not have been heard. One could leisurely amble to the park in just a few minutes' time from the Banister Shoes manufactory. It's no wonder that Banister employees often remained in their positions for a lifetime.

Below: (1) 1905 image of a Victorian woman walking her infant in a pretty white

(likely wicker) pram, and 2) a businessman enjoying a book (during his lunch break?).

Above and Left: 1910

Newark nationalities. Apparently, the Banister Manufactory on Orange Street was located within the "Irish" area.

Left: 1901 (x 2)

All maps that have been re-oriented have been aligned to true north.