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Avery, Samuel Putnam (17 March 1822–11 August 1904), wood engraver, art dealer, and rare book and print collector, was born in New York City, the son of Samuel Avery and Hannah Parke. His father, variously listed as a shoe maker and a leather merchant, died of cholera in 1832. Through an apprenticeship in a bank-note company, Avery was able to learn the essentials of the wood-engraving trade. Officially recorded as an engraver in the 1842 New York City directory, he earned a living by engraving labels and making handbills for local merchants. At the same time he began a long involvement with the publishing trade, working for periodicals such as ...

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Huntington, Henry Edwards (27 February 1850–23 May 1927), urban developer, railroad executive, and book and art collector, was born in Oneonta, New York, the son of Solon Huntington, a merchant, land speculator, and farmer, and Harriet Saunders. His father was conservative by nature, and it was his uncle, railway magnate ...

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Quinn, John (24 April 1870–28 July 1924), lawyer, collector of art and manuscripts, and patron of the arts, was born in Tiffin, Ohio, the son of James Quinn, a prosperous baker, and Mary Quinlan. Quinn’s success as a lawyer came early. He took a law degree from Georgetown University in 1893 and a second law degree from Harvard in 1895. Practicing in New York City, he established himself as one of the city’s leading financial lawyers in 1905 by dealing with the legal complications of J. B. Ryan’s takeover of Equitable Life Assurance Association of the United States, a firm that controlled $400 million in assets. Hard-driving and demanding, Quinn once fired five junior partners in one year. Yet in spite of his preoccupation with his work, he performed inestimable services for the arts....

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Rosenwald, Lessing Julius (10 February 1891–24 June 1978), art and book collector and philanthropist, was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Julius Rosenwald, a businessman, and Augusta Nusbaum. In 1908 he went to Cornell University but left in 1911 to work as a shipping clerk for Sears, Roebuck, of which his father was president. In 1913 Rosenwald married Edith Goodkind; they had five children. He served as a seaman, second class, in the U.S. Navy during World War I; after the war he returned to Sears, Roebuck. In 1920 his father sent him to Philadelphia to start that city’s first Sears store....

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Schomburg, Arthur Alfonso (24 January 1874–10 June 1938), historian, bibliophile, and curator, was born Arturo Alfonso Schomburg in San Juan, Puerto Rico, the son of Mary Joseph, an unwed midwife or laundress who had been born free in 1837 on St. Croix, Virgin Islands. Some sources claim that his father was Carlos Federico Schomburg, a German-born émigré merchant, but in a reply to a questionnaire from ...