H.B. Claflin & Company

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H.B. Claflin & Company was a Manhattan based dry goods business which was incorporated in 1890. The company acted as wholesalers who were middlemen between manufacturers and retailers of dry goods.[1] The corporation became insolvent in June 1914, with a debt of $34,000,000. Judge Learned Hand of the United States District Court in New York appointed receivers for the firm on June 25, 1914. The trade of the wholesaler was negatively affected by the migration of the dry goods industry to uptown Manhattan[2] and a failure to adapt to the changing business landscape.[3]

History of business[edit]

H.B. Claflin & Company began operations in 1843, many years before its official incorporation. In 1868 the company retained the same principal leaders from its start, namely Horace Brigham Claflin, E.E. Eames, and E.W. Bancroft. The main building of the business fronted Church Street (Manhattan) for one hundred feet and extended along Worth Street for another four hundred feet. It continued along West Broadway (Manhattan) for one hundred feet. All of its buildings occupied an area encompassing 48,000 square feet (4,500 m2) in 1868. It employed 700 people full-time and up to 1,000 persons during the busiest seasons. The various departments of H.B. Claflin & Company dealt in lace goods, white goods, flannels, blankets, hosiery, shirts, underwear, shawls, hoods, scarves, and gloves.[4]

In 1914 the Claflin stores in New York were C.G. Gunther's Sons, Lord & Taylor, James McCreery & Company, O'Neill Adams Company, H. Batterman Company, Brooklyn, and the Bedford Company, Brooklyn. Claflin interests controlled an additional thirty stores located in various parts of the United States.[2]


  1. ^ Moody's Magazine, Volume 17, January - December 1914, pg. 339.
  2. ^ a b H.B. Claflin Co. Fail Liabilities $34,000,000, Wall Street Journal, June 26, 1914, pg. 1.
  3. ^ Edward D. Page (Jul 13, 1914). "Lessons of the Claflin Crash". The Independent. Retrieved August 21, 2012. 
  4. ^ History of New York City: from the discovery to the present day, William Leete Stone, New York, 1868.