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Bache, Jules Semon (09 November 1861–24 March 1944), financier and art collector, was born in New York City, the son of Semon Bache, a merchant of glass and mirrors, and Elizabeth van Praag. Bache attended the Charlier Institute in New York City and supplemented his studies in Frankfurt, Germany. He worked for a few years in his father’s firm before beginning a financial career in the employ of his uncle Leopold Cahn. At the brokerage of Leopold Cahn & Company, Bache worked his way from cashier (1880) to treasurer (1881) to partner (1886). In 1892 he took over the firm, renaming it J. S. Bache & Company. Also in 1892 Bache married Florence Rosalee Scheftel, the daughter of a well-known New York City merchant; they had two children. Bache and his wife were divorced in Paris in 1925....

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Bachrach, Louis Fabian (16 July 1881–24 July 1963), portrait photographer and businessman, was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of David Bachrach, Jr., a photographer, and Frances Keyser. Bachrach attended public schools and graduated from the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute in 1897. He also took classes at the Maryland Institute of Art and Design and the New York Art Students League; these classes gave him the “sense of line and knowledge of the anatomy of the human figure” that proved invaluable to him as a photographer....

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Albert C. Barnes Photograph by Carl Van Vechten, 1940. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LOT 12735, no. 102 P&P).

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Barnes, Albert Coombs (02 January 1872–24 July 1951), collector, educator, and entrepreneur, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of John Jesse Barnes, a butcher, and Lydia A. Schafer. Barnes’s father lost his right arm in the Civil War, and his ability to support his family proved sporadic. However, Albert’s mother, to whom he was devoted, was hardworking and resourceful. Among his most vivid childhood memories were the exuberant black religious revivals and camp meetings he attended with his devout Methodist parents. Accepted at the academically demanding Central High School, which awarded bachelor’s degrees, his early interest in art was stimulated by his friendship with the future artist ...

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Barnum, P. T. (05 July 1810–07 April 1891), showman, was born Phineas Taylor Barnum in Bethel, Connecticut, the son of Philo F. Barnum, a farmer and storekeeper, and Irena Taylor. While attending public school in Bethel, Barnum peddled candy and gingerbread. He later wrote that he had always been interested in arithmetic and money....

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See Bendel, Henri

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Bendel, Henri (22 January 1868–22 March 1936), and Henri Bendel (22 January 1868–22 March 1936), fashion designer and entrepreneur, , was born Henri Willis Bendel in Vermillionville (renamed Lafayette in 1884 after the Marquis de Lafayette), in southwest Louisiana to William Louis Bendel, purported to have been a former British Naval officer,and Marie Plonsky, born in the German states. They arrived in Louisiana before the Civil War and opened a dry goods store. His father died in 1874; four years later his mother married Benjamin Falk, a Russian-born dry goods merchant, when Henri was ten years old. His mother, a successful businesswoman, ran a furniture store, a dry goods store, a drugstore and a funeral parlor. His stepfather was one of the most successful businessmen in late 19 ...

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Blodget, Samuel, Jr. (28 August 1757–11 April 1814), entrepreneur, architect, and economist, was born in Goffstown, New Hampshire, the son of Samuel Blodget and Hannah White. The elder Blodget was a merchant, manufacturer, and canal builder, and also a visionary, having developed machinery for raising sunken ships. The son seems to have inherited the father’s versatility and visionary quality....

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Mathew B. Brady Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-BH827-2102).

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Brady, Mathew B. (1823?–15 January 1896), photographer and entrepreneur, was born near Lake George, New York, the son of Andrew Brady and Julia (maiden name unknown), poor, working-class parents of Irish heritage. His first name has often been misspelled Matthew; Brady himself did not know what his middle initial stood for. Little is known of his childhood and schooling, and there is some question as to how literate Brady was because others handled his correspondence and financial records. His signature is one of the few examples of his handwriting left behind....

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Daché, Lilly (1892?–31 December 1989), hat and fashion designer and entrepreneur, was born in Bègles, France. Because of her unconventional red hair, skinny figure, and preference for using her left hand, Daché’s parents (names unknown) considered her both plain and clumsy, and in later years she attributed her desire to create beauty to an early need to feel attractive and thereby loved. Even as a child Daché decorated her hair with cherries and flower garlands and cut up her mother’s clothes to make hats of her own design. Daché began her millinery training with her aunt, a dressmaker in Bordeaux, but talent and ambition soon led to a four-year apprenticeship with Caroline Reboux in Paris. She later worked for both Suzanne Talbot and Georgette, also noted Parisian milliners....

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Dale, Chester (03 May 1883–16 December 1962), investment banker and art collector, was born in New York City, the son of Thomas W. Dale, a department store salesman, and Jane Roberts. Dale attended Peekskill Military Academy, but he left school when he was fourteen and began working as an office boy and runner on Wall Street. By 1904 he was an independent broker, and in 1909 he formed a partnership specializing in railroad mortgages and utility bonds with his friend William C. Langley. In 1911 Dale married Maud Murray a few weeks after she divorced his friend Frederick M. Thompson; they had no children....

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De Witt, Simeon (25 December 1756–03 December 1834), cartographer, surveyor, and land developer, was born in Wawarsing, Ulster County, New York, the son of Andries De Witt, a physician, and Jannetje Vernooy. His early education was typical of what a scattered agricultural community could provide in that period. Later he received classical instruction from the local minister, and then, on the eve of the American Revolution, he enrolled at Queen’s College (later Rutgers University) in New Brunswick, New Jersey. He was granted a B.A. degree in 1776 and an M.A. degree in 1788....

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Drexel, Francis Martin (07 April 1792–05 June 1863), investment banker and painter, was born in Dornbirn, Austria, the son of Franz Joseph Drexel, a merchant, and Magdalen Willhelm. Drexel’s father sent him to Milan in 1803 to attend school; he took courses in Italian and in the fine arts and began his career as a painter. As a result of problems in his father’s business and the eruption of the Napoleonic Wars, in 1806 Drexel returned to Dornbirn to assist his father. Drexel, who was not drafted into the Hapsburg army, two years later continued his studies, first in France and then in Switzerland. He also painted portraits, decorated coaches, and drew pictorial signs. After spending time in Dornbirn between 1815 and 1817, the adventurous Drexel, who was disenchanted with the economic and political conditions in Austria, decided to leave Europe. In 1817 he sailed from Amsterdam on the ...

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Edmonds, Francis William (22 November 1806–07 February 1863), banker and artist, was born in Hudson, Columbia County, New York, the son of Samuel Edmonds, a military officer, and Lydia Worth. Edmonds’s education from the age of about six to about fifteen took place in a Quaker school where his artistic abilities gradually won the approval of the schoolmaster. Initially Edmonds had wanted to become an engraver, but his ambition was squelched by the prohibitive apprenticeship fees. His early independent training included creating designs for wood engravers, which infused his artistic vision with a penchant for precision and detail....

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Filson, John (10 December 1753?–01 October 1788), author, historian, and land surveyor, was born in East Fallowfield Township near Brandywine Creek in Chester County, Pennsylvania, the son of Davison Filson and Eleanor Clarke, farmers. After attending common schools in the vicinity of his birthplace, Filson studied Greek, Latin, mathematics, and surveying at West Nottingham Academy in Colora, Maryland. He inherited part of a modest estate following his father’s death in 1776, but, eschewing life on the farm, he taught school and surveyed lands in the area during the American Revolution....

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Fisher, Avery Robert (04 March 1906–26 February 1994), entrepreneur, graphic designer, and audio engineer, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the youngest of six children of Charles Fisher and Mary Byrach Fisher, both Russian immigrants. Young Avery was captivated by his father's extensive record collection and this began his lifelong love of classical music. He entered New York University (NYU) in 1924, majoring in biology and English. After graduating in 1929 he joined an advertising agency and came into contact with several publishing companies who were his clients. He got a job as a graphic designer with G. P. Putnam's Sons and then joined Dodd, Mead & Company in 1933, where he worked for the next ten years. He recalled his work in graphic design with great pride and claimed that designing books was his first love. He said that a beautiful typographic design was as pleasing to the eye as listening to music was pleasing to the ear. In 1941 he married Janet Cane; the couple had three children....

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Robert Fulton. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-102509).

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Fulton, Robert (14 November 1765–23 February 1815), artist, engineer, and entrepreneur, was born on a farm in Little Britain (later Fulton) Township, south of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the son of Robert Fulton, a Scotch-Irish tailor and tradesman, and Mary Smith. Fulton’s father had left the prosperous market town of Lancaster to establish his family on the land, but like so many others with the same goal, he failed. The farm and the dwelling were sold at sheriff’s sale in 1772, and he took his family back to Lancaster. He died two years later....

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Hirshhorn, Joseph H. (11 August 1899?–31 August 1981), financier and art collector, was born Joseph Herman Choneh Hirshhorn in the village of Jukst, near Mitau (now Jelgava), Latvia, the son of Lazar Hirshhorn, a grain broker and owner of a general store, and Amelia Friedlander. One year after Joseph’s birth (which some sources list as 1900), his father died of heart disease. His mother and two of his sisters fled Latvia for the United States in 1906. By 1907 Amelia Hirshhorn could afford to send for Joseph and her five other children, who joined her in Brooklyn. She supported the family by working in a sweatshop. Hirshhorn was raised in a succession of railroad flats in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. After his mother was injured in a tenement fire, he learned to fend for himself. Determined to escape poverty, he left school at age twelve or thirteen to make his fortune on Wall Street. Employed initially as an office boy and Western Union messenger, Hirshhorn took his first step into the world of finance by charting stock for the influential ...