Copyright
Albert Lord Belden.

The fur trade of America and some of the men who made and maintain it, together with furs and fur bearers of other continents and countries and islands of the sea online

. (page 18 of 34)
Online LibraryAlbert Lord BeldenThe fur trade of America and some of the men who made and maintain it, together with furs and fur bearers of other continents and countries and islands of the sea → online text (page 18 of 34)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


the United States. In due course Mr. Gunther received
his sons into partnership, as C. G. Gunther's Sons.

Mr. Franklin L. Gunther was an active member of
the firm for many years, but withdrew, discontinuing
business, some years ago.

Mr. Ernest R. Gunther was a member of the firm
for some time, but severed his connection with the
house several years ago, and has not since been identified
with the fur business.

During all the years the house has given attention
to the production of high class furs exclusively, the
choicest sables, black foxes, sea otter, Shetland and
Alaska fur seals, Russian ermine and our best Ameri-
can peltries; the quality mark, however, has not been
limited to the materials of manufacture, but has found



316 MANUFACTURING FURRIERS

very definite expression in the artistic character of the
models and perfection in workmanship. Gunther furs
were awarded the Gold Medal at the Exposition Univer-
sal, Paris, 1867; ^"^ ^ Gold Medal, several Diplomas and
fifteen Highest Awards at the Columbian Exposition,
Chicago, 1893.

The firm has always been exceedingly public spir-
ited, and has contributed liberally to every worthy cause ;
many instances might be recorded, but one chacteristic
of all is noted in their contribution of ten thousand dol-
lars to the Johnstown Relief Fund.

Christian G. Gunther, founder of the house, died
October 30, 1868, aged seventy-three.

C. G. Gunther's Sons was incorporated in April,
191 3 under the laws of the State of New York, as suc-
cessors to the New Jersey corporation of the same name.
Directors: Thomas Kearney, Moses Ely aftd R. L.
Logan.

Louis F. Georger was a member of the firm for
many years, and was very well known and highly
esteemed in the trade; he died May 14, 1913.

John Charles Gunther, an active and influential
member of the firm for forty-five years, retired May i,
1869. He died March 6, 1876, aged fifty-three.

William Henry Gunther, oldest son of Christian G.
Gunther, head of the house for an extended period, died
September 21, 1877, in the sixty-second year of his age.

Francis Frederick Gunther, last representative of
the second generation of the celebrated family, died
December 3, 1895, aged sixty- two.

William Henry Gunther, at the time senior mem-
ber of the firm, died February 15, 1901 ; born in New
York, 185 1.



MANUFACTURING FURRIERS 317

LEOPOLD HAAS
Leopold Haas, whose long career in the fur manu-
facturing business was marked by the strictest integrity,
came to New York from Austria-Hungary in 1883, and
from that time until his death, May 22, 19 16, conducted
a high class manufacturing and retail fur business. He
was married in 1851, and celebrated his golden wed-
ding March 10, 1901, upon which occasion he was the
recipient of many evidences of esteem and respect from
leading members of the trade.

HARRIS & RUSSAK

Henry Harris and Benjamin Russak, two thor-
oughly alert men of affairs, united in forming the firm
of Harris & Russak in 1850, and were so associated in
business until death separated them, a period of nearly
thirty years. On forming the partnership the firm
opened a retail hat and fur store at 326 Grand Street,
where by untiring industry they built up a sound and
progressive business; for many years the store was a
"landmark," and became as time advanced one of the
best known hat and fur establishments in that part of
the city. As their business increased they opened a sec-
ond store at Eighth Avenue and Twenty-second Street,
and a little later a third at 228 Bowery ; all of their ven-
tures prospered from the outset.

In May, 1864, the firm materially enlarged its oper-
ations, engaging in the manufacture of furs at whole-
sale, making a feature of popular furs, thoroughly de-
pendable goods, to meet the requirements of leading
retail merchants in New York and other large cities ; at



818 MANUFACTURING FURRIERS

that time manufactured furs were carried chiefly by-
fashionable hatters.

When seal skin became popular, very shortly aftor
the purchase of Alaska by the United States, Harris &
Russak were among the first furriers to appreciate the
real merits of the article, and to manufacture ladies*
seal sacques in exceptionally large number ; in the seven-
ties important dry goods houses throughout the country
gradually evinced an interest in manufactured furs, and
in succession opened increasingly attractive fur depart-
ments, and many of the best of these built their success
upon the popular priced seal garments manufactured by
Harris & Russak. The firm occupied throughout its
career a position of highest honor in the fur trade of the
metropolis ; and their reputation as efficient and upright
merchants extended to all parts of the United States.

Henry Harris died June 12, 1879, in the fifty-sev-
enth year of his age.

Benjamin Russak died January 29, 1892, in the
sixty-fourth year of his age.

The business was discontinued February i, 1893.

HERX, AMES & RAU

F. Theodore Herx and Charles Rau established as
manufacturing furriers in New York in 1891, and so
continued until February i, 1893, when they admitted
William B. Ames, under style Herx, Ames & Rau. The
firm ranked among the leading manufacturers of high
class furs, was eminently successful, honorable, and
highly esteemed in the local trade and throughout the
country. In rather rapid succession death claimed the
entire membership of the house.



MANUFACTURING FURRIERS . 819

F. Theodore Herx died in March, 19 14. Charles
Rau died May 27, 19 14, and William B. Ames joined
the great majority March 20, 191 6.

WILLIAM JACKMAN

William Jackman was born in London, England, in
1829, and when a young man came to the United States
and shortly afterward, under the lure of "growing up
with the West," went to Cleveland, Ohio, where, in i860,
he established a wholesale fur manufacturing business,
which steadily increased in volume from year to year
quite to the limit of his hopes — really outgrew the foun-
dation, and became big enough to transplant a branch
in New York, which in turn has developed into a house
of first rank. The expansion was wholly due to the
painstaking industry, strict integrity and unswerving
fidelity of the early resolve to give full value in every
transaction.

In August, 1889, Mr. Jackman received in partner-
ship his sons, Edward F. and Charles A. Jackman, the
firm becoming William Jackman & Sons, and so con-
tinued until April 7, 1899, when William Jackman died,
and the style of the firm, in consequence, was changed
to William Jackman's Sons.



SToftn 3aus?its!



Living members of the fur trade who knew him,
either intimately or but slightly, all agree that in their
day and generation John Ruszits occupied the leading
place among the fur merchants of America ; was a man
worthy of honor among honorable men; one who was
not born great, did not have greatness thrust upon him,
but achieved it, and one who made for the fur business
a meritorious record which endures; and for himself,
a name which lives on.

John Ruszits is remembered, not for the remark-
able things he said, for he was a man of few words;
nor for his personal attainments, for he neither sought
nor desired rank or station; but he was esteemed and
is remembered for what he did, and the ways in which
it was done. Not that he accomplished mighty things,
but that he began, continued and finished common-
place tasks, the every-day duties incident to his busi-
ness, with the sustained interest, efficiency and fidelity
to details which master minds are supposed to lavish
upon greater things, even the greatest.

It is an open question whether he worked the more
for himself — the highest attainable reputation as a
manufacturer — or his clients, and through them in-
dividual consumers. His glory was in his work, and it
was so fruitful of enduring values, that others emulate
the record — and, "he being dead yet speaketh;" his
name lives on in his work.

820



y







a meritorious re-



ness. whh ih



'jt 1: tiiem it.




s. -





3ol)n 3Sin^}it^



JOHN RUSZITS 821

John Ruszits was born in Baja, Hungary, in 1817;
when yet a young man he went to Germany, where he
spent about ten years in acquiring extreme proficiency
as a practical furrier, graduating as a master workman,
fully equipped for service or leadership. In 185 1 he
came to New York, and at once engaged in business as
a manufacturer of fine furs, productions particularly
worthy of being classed as "fine" on account of evident
superiority in workmanship.

In one respect he did not differ from the majority
— he began at the bottom round, with small means, in
modest premises, and by untiring industry steadily ad-
vanced, not by "leaps and bounds," but just a day's
march forward each day. He did not come to America
to make a fortune in a year, or a decade ; he came with
very little "ready money," but an unlimited fund of con-
fidence in his ability to make a living, with the one
thing added which makes a life — contentment. He made
more; an untarnished record for integrity, truth, and
all that makes for success — and success; it was a per-
sonal triumph. He studied the economies of the busi-
ness even to the last; in order to get the "right goods at
the right prices" he purchased raw furs direct from
the field; conducted a general trade in dressed and
dyed skins — staples and novelties — carefully purchased
abroad; and also handled various specialties required
in the trade — if he had any hobby, it found expression
in his desire to be able to fill off-hand any order that
might come to him.

In his career of nearly forty years in the fur trade
of America he amassed a fortune ; the dollars bequeathed
to others, we believe, have made for themselves wings



822 JOHN RUSZITS "^

and flown away, but the example of the one who
gathered them is still a power in the fur trade.

Mr. Ruszits died October i8, 1890. As an excep-
tional mark of respect to his memory all fur merchants
in New York closed their places of business during the
hour of the funeral on October 21.

A meeting of the trade, October 20, adopted the
following :

RESOLUTIONS.

Whereas, It has pleased Almighty God in His infinite
wisdom to take from among us, through death, our late busi-
ness friend and associate, John Ruszits, for whom we all had
the higfhest regard, esteem, and respect ; therefore, be it

Resolved, That we, the members of the fur trade, in
meeting this day assembled, desire to bear testimony to his
high honor, uniform kindness, courtesy and integrity. He
enjoyed the highest respect of all with whom he had business
relations, and in his death we feel that the trade, and the com-
munity at large, have sustained an irreparable loss which
words fail to express.

Resolved, That we extend our sincere sympathy and
condolence to his bereaved widow in this her hour of trial ;
but whose loss is greatly assuaged by the untarnished name
he leaves behind him.

Resolved, That these resolutions be suitably engrossed
and presented to his widow.



MANUFACTURING FURRIERS 323

ABRAHAM AND JAMES JACOBSON

Abraham Jacobson, then a young man of exception-
al enterprise and ability, began the manufacture of fur
novelties for the trade in 1874; his productions met with
immediate success because of originality and readily dis-
cernible superiority in general workmanship. In 1878
his brother, James Jacobson, accepted an engagement
with the same house, and later went with another firm
in which Abraham Jacobson had previously become a
partner. February i, 1891, Abraham and James formed
a new firm, under style, A. Jacobson & Brother,
leasing premises at 109 Mercer Street, where they made
a specialty of the manufacture of high grade novelties
and ornaments, under very favorable conditions; they
were bright and energetic young men of high character,
were well known, and their productions were approved
by the best houses in the trade throughout the country.
For some time they devoted particular attention to the
manufacture of first quality fur and braid ornaments
for furriers, and a choice selection of small animal
heads, in natural finish, for which there existed at the
time an excellent demand in the fur and millinery
trades. In 1893 they removed to 160 Mercer Street in
order to secure more factory space, and there they in-
creased the number of their manufactures, adding the
production of entirely new things in fine head scarfs,
celluloid skulls, braids and sundry small specialties of
extreme utility in the fur business ; somewhat later they
made a feature of larger life-size skulls for rugs fin-
ished with mounted heads.

On February i, 1897, in consequence of the very
considerable development of their business they secured



824 MANUFACTURING FURRIERS

greatly enlarged premises at 11-13 West Houston
Street, where they materially increased their output of
reliable goods, which were quite universally recognized
as "Standard" in the fur trade.

On February i, 1904, the firm removed to their
present location, 160 Fifth Avenue, where they have
materially enlarged their business, adding thereto the
manufacture of furs of highest worth, including Rus-
sian sable garments and sets, silver fox, Alaska seal,
and other rich peltries wrought into artistic designs,
which readily command the appreciation of the most dis-
criminating consumer.

ALBERT JAECKEL

Albert Jaeckel has for many years occupied a
prominent and leading position in the "ancient and
honorable" fur business in the City of New York, but
his reputation as an extremely proficient furrier en-
dowed with more than ordinary good taste, is not con-
fined to the Metropolis, for productions carrying his
name have long held a high place in favor in all the great
cities throughout the country where courtly furs are
worn.

He began his career in the American fur trade,
which owes much to his genius and love of the beautiful,
in 1877, at 12 East Eighth Street, manufacturing furs
at wholesale, producing only high class goods ; not neces-
sarily the most costly furs exclusively but definitely fine
skins, the best in their class, made up by skilled operators
who clearly understood that each finished article would
be subjected to his searching scrutiny, and would not be
allowed to pass to the shipping department if falling in



MANUFACTURING FURRIERS 826

any degree below his fixed standard of perfection in
manufacture.

This rule has continuously prevailed in both the
wholesale and retail departments, and largely accounts
for the extreme favor accorded to Jaeckel furs by
appreciative consumers in exclusive circles.

In 1886 he secured larger premises at 1 1 East Nine-
teenth Street, where he considerably extended the busi-
ness and his reputation as an efficient manufacturer.

A partner was taken in 1895, and under style, A.
Jaeckel & Company, the business was removed to 37
Union Square West, and a retail department was added ;
two years later, February i, 1907, Mr. Jaeckel leased the
very fine building, now occupied, at 384 Fifth Avenue,
and has since conducted a leading retail business in furs
of highest quality.

In August, 1907, the business was incorporated as
A. Jaeckel & Company, the incorporators being: Albert
Jaeckel, president; Lewis M. Borden, vice-president; L.
A. Hamilton, secretary and treasurer.

HUGO JAECKEL, Sr.

Hugo Jaeckel has been a prominent fur merchant
and manufacturer in the American Metropolis for nearly
forty years; he began close to the lowest round of the
ladder, and by unwearied industry and purposeful per-
sistence won his way to the topmost round. He entered
upon his business career in New York in July, 1878, as
a member of the firm of Asch & Jaeckel, manufacturing
ladies' furs at wholesale; a year later the firm was
changed to Duncan, Asch & Jaeckel, and later, on the
death of Mr. Duncan, the original title was resumed,
and the business was removed to 11- 13 West Houston



326 MANUFACTURING FURRIERS

Street, and later, January 15, 1892, still larger premises
were secured, the firm leasing and occupying the entire
building at 20-22 Waverly Place ; six years later the firm
secured the commodious building at 2i7 Union Square,
and in April, 1908, removed to 16-20 West Thirty-
second Street. On February i, 1905, the firm was suc-
ceeded by H. Jaeckel & Sons, the members being : Hugo
Jaeckel, Sr., Hugo Jaeckel, Jr., and Richard Jaeckel.

KAYE & EINSTEIN

Kaye & Einstein, favorably known manufacturers
of furs of highest merit, established in business in 1888,
and from that date forward have occupied an enviable
position in the trade, not alone in the Empire City, but
as definitely from ocean to ocean, and in all important
markets and fashion centers of the old world. Their
styles readily win their way in consequence of their dis-
tinctive character, originality and artistic excellence.
All transactions, whether sales to or purchases from
them, have proven satisfactory to all concerned. Their
productions include ladies' furs, men's fur and fur-
lined coats, and complete selections of auto fur clothing.

The business of Kaye & Einstein was incorporated
in January, 1908, with two hundred thousand dollars
capital, by Alexander Heilbronner, Charles Kaye and
Raphael C. Korn.

Moses Einstein, of the firm, died June 12, 1902.

Alexander Heilbronner died September 25, 19 16.

KAUFMAN & OBERLEDER

Kaufman & Oberleder, wholesale manufacturing
furriers, have built up a business which is not only a



MANUFACTURING FURRIERS 327

monument to their own enterprize, but a credit to New
York; they set out to achieve success upon the correct
basis, quality of materials and excellence in workman-
ship — and have not missed the mark by a hairs breadth ;
the phenomenal growth of the business tells the story
better than it can be narrated in a multiplicity of words.
Kaufman & Oberleder incorporated in February,
191 5. Frederick Kaufman, president; William Ober-
leder, vice-president; George J. Baruch, secretary;
Morris H. Oberleder, treasurer.

JOHN KONVALINKA

John Konvalinka conducted a manufacturing and
retail fur business at 38 Maiden Lane, New York, for
forty-four years, and was one of the best known furriers
in the city. He was born in a village near Prague,
Bohemia, in 1821, and came to New York in 1849; ^^
began business on his own account in 1852, and con-
tinued to the time of his death, June 3, 1896.

LOWERRE & COMPANY

Lowerre & Company, for "years and years" at 83
Mercer Street, enjoy the distinction of being the oldest
established house engaged in the manufacture of fur
robes in New York. They began in the early seventies
of the past century, and were especially important
manufacturers of buffalo robes, and later Chinese goat
robes in all colors.

Thomas H. Lowerre, of the firm, died November 9,
1902, aged sixty.



828 MANUFACTURING FURRIERS

SIMON REINEMAN— ALBERT REINEMAN
Simon Reineman in 1852 established in the whole-
sale hat and fur business in the Metropolis, as Reine-
man, Gimbel & Company, later as Stern, Gage & Com-
pany, and subsequently under style Foltz & Reineman,
manufacturing furs, and so continued to 1885, from
which date Simon Reineman conducted the business
alone, achieving very considerable success, and becom-
ing widely known in the trade. On January i, 1892, he
retired and was succeeded by Albert Reineman, who
today enjoys a reputation for ability and integrity, as a
manufacturer of high-class furs, second to none. Simon
Reineman died at Ulm, Germany, July 17, 1905, aged
sixty-seven.

REVILLON FRfeRES

Revillon Freres, foremost fur merchants and manu-
facturers of Paris, whose business dates back to 1723,
have for nearly forty years unostentatiously exerted a
beneficial influence upon the fur business of America as
the inescapable effect of the impressively exalted char-
acter of the house, their irreproachable methods, and
the extreme excellence of the business in all its details.
Every department of the great house is conducted in the
most progressive up-to-date manner, and in the exercise
of the fullest knowledge of commercial conditions and
mercantile possibilities in all parts of the world. These
statements apply not only to the original foundation at
Paris, but as emphatically to the branches established in
succession at London, Montreal, New York, Leipzig and
points of minor magnitude, not the least of which have
their beginning at comparatively recent dates in the new
cities and personally planted trading posts in the most



MANUFACTURING FURRIERS 829

modern provinces and far northern wilds of Canada.

The New York branch of Revillon Freres was
opened in 1880 at 731 Broadway, in charge of an Amer-
ican representative, with an excellent selection of their
superior fur seal skins in the beautiful French dye, and
other choice furs adapted to the requirements of ultra
fashionable consumers.

In 1890 the business was confided to the efficient
management of Mr. P. A. Majot, and was confined to
trade at wholesale; six years later, in order to secure
much greater manufacturing facilities the business was
removed to 13-15 West Twenty-eighth Street, with Mr.
Andre Jave in charge.

The progress of the house was rapid, necessitating
another change of location, and in January, 1899, the
firm leased the entire building 19 West Thirty-fourth
Street and 30-32 West Thirty-fifth Street, and very
materially enlarged the business by opening one of the
finest retail departments in the United States — their
lines at the time included manufacturing, dressed and
dyed fur skins at wholesale, raw fur purchasing at first
hand, importing, exporting, retailing and cold storage;
really every branch of the trade, and profoundly touch-
ing every point, place and fur interest of real worth.

The business was incorporated at Paris in 1904.

The house has important branches in London and
Montreal, and purchasing agencies in many parts of the
world.

Jean Albert Revillon died November 26, 1887.

Leon Revillon died January 31, 191 5.

Albert Revillon died at the front in the great war,
October, 191 5.

Anatole Revillon died January 30, 191 6.



830 MANUFACTURING FURRIERS

A. P. ROCKWELL

A. P. Rockwell was for many years well known in
the fur business of New York; he was for some time a
member of the firm of Treadwell & Company, from
which connection he withdrew in 1879, and the follow-
ing year opened a fine fur store at 731 Broadway, with
a full line of fur seal skins and model garments from the
celebrated house of Revillon Freres, Paris.

He so continued to 1890, when he became manager
of The Rockwell Fur Company, which remained in
business only a short time ; subsequently he occupied an
important position with the John Ruszits Fur Company.

Mr. Rockwell died June i, 1903; born at Guilford,
N. Y., March 4, 1840.

SIMON SCHWERSENSKI

Simon Schwersenski was for forty years one of the
best known and most highly respected fur manufacturers
in New York; he was born in Germany in 1849, and
came to New York when a mere lad ; in a short time he
found employment in the fur business and kept indus-
triously at work until he mastered the trade. In the
spring of 1873 he established a fur manufacturing busi-
ness of his own, and gradually built up a splendid trade
at wholesale.

Mr. Schwersenski was actively identified with a
number of charitable institutions. He died August 23,

1915-

CHRISTOPHER C. SHAYNE

Christopher C. Shayne was born at Galway, N. Y.,
September 29, 1844, and continued to reside in the old



MANUFACTURING FURRIERS 331

homestead until he became of age. In 1865 he went to
Cincinnati, where he engaged in the fur manufacturing
business; seven years later he removed to New York
and continued to be identified with the fur trade in
various ways. In 1879 he established a small commis-
sion business in manufactured furs at 103 Prince Street,
and by hard work, perseverance and exceptionally liberal
advertising built up a profitable manufacturing and re-
tail business in popular furs. His business grew rapidly,
and in a few years he erected and occupied a fine build-
ing on Forty-second Street, west of Sixth Avenue, upon
which his name is still displayed.

Mr. Shayne died February 21, 1906.

LOUIS ZECHIEL

Louis Zechiel, who was born in a village in the
Grand Duchy of Baden, Germany, in July, 1826, de-
voted some six years to learning the furriers* trade, and
when twenty-two years of age came to New York, and
after acquiring a knowledge of local business methods
established in fur manufacturing.

From 1850 to 1875 he made up ladies' furs in mod-



Online LibraryAlbert Lord BeldenThe fur trade of America and some of the men who made and maintain it, together with furs and fur bearers of other continents and countries and islands of the sea → online text (page 18 of 34)