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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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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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Moody, Harriet Converse (18 March 1857–22 February 1932), entrepreneur and patron of the arts, was born in Parkman, Ohio, the daughter of William Mason Tilden, a livestock broker, and Harriet Converse. William Tilden moved his family to Chicago circa 1867. Educated at home by her mother, Harriet later attended the Howland School, a Quaker institution in Union Springs, New York. She continued her education at Cornell University, where she earned a degree in English literature in 1876. Enrolling at the Women’s Medical College of Philadelphia, she returned to Chicago after one year, made her debut, and married Edwin Brainard, a lawyer. The marriage was not a success, and the Brainards were divorced in the 1880s....

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Putnam, Gideon (17 April 1763–01 December 1812), entrepreneur and developer, was born in Sutton, Massachusetts, the son of Stephen Putnam and Mary Gibbs (occupations unknown). He was a cousin of revolutionary war general Israel Putnam. Gideon Putnam married Doana Risley of Hartford, Connecticut (c. 1783), and moved to Vermont, where they established a farm at the present site of Middlebury College. Dissatisfied with the region, they moved to Rutland, Vermont, and then to Bemis Heights in New York. A major flood caused them to move once again, this time to Saratoga Springs, in 1789. Putnam leased 300 acres in the Kayaderosseras Patent from Derick Lefferts. Starting a farm, he also began to cut lumber and manufacture shingles and staves, which he shipped to New York City. By 1791 he had accumulated enough wealth to purchase the leased land and build a sawmill. A year later the mineral water source, subsequently named Congress Spring, was discovered by ...

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Sartain, John (24 October 1808–25 October 1897), entrepreneurial engraver and publisher, was born in London, England, the son of John Sartain, a shoemaker, and Ann Burgess. Before Sartain was eight years old, his father died, and by age twelve he was working as an assistant to a theatrical pyrotechnist and scene painter. At fourteen he received an inheritance from his grandmother and apprenticed himself to the engraver John Swaine. Fortunate in being asked to complete the engravings for William Ottley’s ...

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Savage, Edward (26 November 1761–06 July 1817), artist and museum proprietor, was born in Princeton, Massachusetts, the son of Seth Savage and Lydia Craige, occupations unknown. Savage, a self-taught artist, may have worked first as a goldsmith. His earliest paintings include a naively proportioned group portrait of his parents, grandfather, and siblings (c. 1779, Worcester Art Museum), copies of portraits by Boston colonial artist ...