Charles Pfizer

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Charles Pfizer
Pfizer, c. 1894
Karl Gustav Pfizer

(1824-03-22)March 22, 1824
DiedOctober 19, 1906(1906-10-19) (aged 82)
Years active1849—1900
Known forFounder of Pfizer along with his cousin Charles F. Erhart
Anna Hausch (m. 1859⁠–⁠1906)

Karl Gustav Pfizer (March 22, 1824 – October 19, 1906), known as Charles Pfizer, was an American chemist who founded the Pfizer pharmaceutical company with his cousin Charles F. Erhart in 1849 as Charles Pfizer & Co.

Life and career[edit]

Pfizer was born in Ludwigsburg, Kingdom of Württemberg (now Germany) to Karl Frederick Pfizer and Caroline (née Klotz) and emigrated to the United States in October 1848.[1] The next year, he borrowed $2,500 from his father to buy a building in Williamsburg, Brooklyn where they produced santonin, used to expel parasitic worms, and expanded into other chemicals.[2]

Pfizer married Anna Hausch in 1859 in his hometown of Ludwigsburg. They had six children, five of whom survived to adulthood: Ann (died 1876), Charles Jr (1860–1928), Gustavus (1861–1944), Emile (1864–1941), Helen Julia (born 1866, who married Sir Frederick Duncan, 2nd Baronet),[3] and Alice (who married Baron Bachofen von Echt of Austria).[4]

Pfizer's partner, cousin, and brother-in-law Charles F. Erhart died in 1891, and their partnership agreement stipulated that the surviving partner could buy the other's share of the company for half its inventory value. Pfizer promptly exercised this option, paying his partner's heirs $119,350 for Erhart's half of the business.[2] He remained as the head of the company until 1900, when it was incorporated and Charles Pfizer, Jr. became its first president. When Charles Jr. retired, his brother Emil succeeded him.[2]

Pfizer died at his summer home "Lindgate" in Newport, Rhode Island; his year-round home was in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. His death came a few weeks after a fall down stairs in which he broke an arm and was otherwise badly injured.[5]


  1. ^ U.S. Passport Application for Charles Pfizer, May 1899; National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; NARA Series: Passport Applications, 1795-1905; Roll #: 525; Volume #: Roll 525 - 11 May 1899-19 May 1899
  2. ^ a b c "History: Charles Pfizer". Pfizer. Archived from the original on May 10, 2017. Retrieved May 10, 2017.
  3. ^ "Sir Oliver Duncan". The New York Times. September 26, 1964.
  4. ^ "Charles Pfizer". Immigrant Entrepreneurship. 1 January 2017. Retrieved May 10, 2017.
  5. ^ "Charles Pfizer". The New York Times. October 21, 1906.

External links[edit]