While working on The Golden City, I tried to get all the details about the city right. At the same time, I had to balance how much time I spent researching little bits and pieces. I try to limit myself to an hour on a single fact…I figure if I can’t find the data (or a solid lead) in an hour, then it’s something very very few people would know anyway.
I hunted for the name of a department store in Porto in 1900. Or just a big store that sold women’s ready-to-wear clothing. I spent well better than an hour.
I ended up fudging. I settled for making a comment about Oriana buying perfume at the Bolhão Market (which still exists today, although it’s primarily a food market. She -could- conceivably have gotten some sort of homemade perfume there, but I truly would rather have found the name of the department store.)
The day AFTER I turned in the page proofs…I found on-line a page from a catalog for Grandes Armazéns Hermínios (via Facebook, not Google).
This doesn’t translate as ‘Hermínios Department Store’, but rather as ‘Big Warehouse Hermínios’, which is probably why I couldn’t find it in the first place.
But it was the store I was looking for all along.
And I found it right after turning in page proofs.