Charles Lewis Tiffany

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Charles Lewis Tiffany
Charles Lewis Tiffany.png
Born (1812-02-15)February 15, 1812
Killingly, Connecticut
Died February 18, 1902(1902-02-18) (aged 90)
Yonkers, New York
Resting place
Green-Wood Cemetery
Citizenship American
Net worth USD $35 million at the time of his death (approximately 1/616th of US GNP)[1]
Spouse(s) Harriet Olivia Avery Young
Children Louis Comfort Tiffany (b. 1848)
Charles Lewis Tiffany, Jr. (b. 1842)
Annie Olivia Tiffany Mitchell (b. 1844)
Louise Harriet Tiffany B. 1856)
Henry Charles Tiffany (b. 1858)
Burnett Young Tiffany (b. 1860)

Charles Lewis Tiffany (February 15, 1812 – February 18, 1902) founded Tiffany & Co. in New York City in 1837. A leader in the American jewelry trade in the nineteenth century, he was known for his jewelry expertise, created the country's first retail catalog, and, in 1851, he introduced the English standard of sterling silver.

Life and career[edit]

Born in Killingly, Connecticut on February 15, 1812, Tiffany was educated in a district school and in an academy in Plainfield, Connecticut. Starting at the age of 15, he helped manage a small general store started by his father, the owner of a cotton-manufacturing company. Charles Tiffany later worked at the office of his father's mill. The Tiffany family descended from the immigrant Humphrey Tiffany (1630-1685),[2] who had lived in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1660.[3]

Charles Lewis Tiffany (left) in his store, about 1887

In 1837, with $1,000 borrowed from his father, Tiffany and a school friend, John B. Young, set up a small stationery and gift shop in New York City. Their first three days in business brought them only $4.38 in total sales, but two years later they were still in business, selling glassware, porcelain, cutlery, clocks and jewelry.[3]

The store expanded in 1841 and changed its name to Tiffany, Young and Ellis. It established a reputation for selling only the finest goods and specialized in Bohemian glass and porcelain. It also began manufacturing its own jewelry. In the early 1850s, the company was reorganized under the name Tiffany and Company and opened branches in Paris (1850) and London (1868). The store also relocated uptown to a Fifth Avenue location in that decade.[3]

Tiffany was terribly embarrassed in an 1872 diamond and gemstone hoax perpetrated by Philip Arnold that cost investors more than half a million dollars.

One of the great achievements in his life was when he teamed up with Thomas Edison and together they created foot lights and other ways of electrically lighting theaters. As a result of this, Broadway and other shows became more popular during that time.

The firm acquired and sold some of the French crown jewels in 1887, firmly establishing its reputation.[4]

At his death in Yonkers, New York on February 18, 1902 at the age of 90, Charles Tiffany's company was capitalized at more than $2 million and acknowledged as the most prominent jewelry company in North America.[3]

Personal life[edit]

On November 30, 1839, he married John B. Young's sister, Harriet Olivia Avery Young (1816–1897) with whom he had six children: Louis Comfort Tiffany (b. 1848), Charles Lewis Tiffany, Jr. (b. 1842), Annie Olivia Tiffany Mitchell (b. 1844; grandmother of Hiram Bingham IV through her daughter Alfreda Mitchell),[5][6] Louise Harriet Tiffany (b. 1856), Henry Charles Tiffany (b. 1858), and Burnett Young Tiffany (b. 1860).

In addition to his business, Tiffany was a patron of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and one of the founders of the New York Society of Fine Arts.[3]

Honors[edit]

Tiffany was made a chevalier of the Legion of Honour in 1878.[7]

References[edit]

Notes

  1. ^ Klepper, Michael; Gunther, Michael (1996), The Wealthy 100: From Benjamin Franklin to Bill Gates—A Ranking of the Richest Americans, Past and Present, Secaucus, New Jersey: Carol Publishing Group, p. xii, ISBN 978-0-8065-1800-8, OCLC 33818143 
  2. ^ http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/tiffanyplayground/history
  3. ^ a b c d e Roth, David M., editor, and Grenier, Judith Arnold, associate editor, "Connecticut History and Culture: An Historical overview and Resource Guide for Teachers", published by the Connecticut Historical Commission, 1985, page 155
  4. ^ Tiffany & Co. | Biographies | Charles Lewis Tiffany |
  5. ^ "Hiram Bingham; Diplomat, 84". New York Times. January 17, 1988. Retrieved June 9, 2013. 
  6. ^ "Illustrations from the Tiffany Fortune: Founder of Tiffany & Co., Charles Tiffany with his granddaughter Alfreda Mitchell, 1877". tiffanyfortne.com. October 12, 2007. Retrieved June 9, 2013. 
  7. ^  Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Tiffany, Charles Lewis". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 

External links[edit]