George Fisher Baker
|George Fisher Baker|
|Born||March 27, 1840|
|Died||May 2, 1931(aged 91)|
|Net worth||USD $100 million at his death (about 1/758th of US GNP)|
|Spouse(s)||Florence Tucker Baker|
|Children||Evelyn, Florence Bellows, George Fisher, Jr.|
In 1863, Baker, along with his mentor, John Thompson, and Thompson's sons Frederick Ferris Thompson and Samuel C. Thompson, co-founded the First National Bank of the City of New York. The first national bank to be chartered in New York City under the National Currency Act of 1863, it became a forerunner of today's Citibank N.A.
At age 37, Baker became First National's President on September 1, 1877. His 20,000 shares were worth about $20 million ($444,437,500 today). He would become chairman of the board in 1909.
An avid investor, he held interests in many corporations and was the largest stockholder in the Central Railroad of New Jersey. In addition, he was a director in 22 corporations, which with their subsidiaries had aggregate resources of $7.27 billion.
True, he is twice as rich as the original J. P. Morgan, having a fortune estimated at 200 millions. True, at the age of 84 when he has retired from many directorates, he dominates half a dozen railroads, several banks, scores of industrial concerns.
The March 26, 1934, Time magazine article called him
the richest, most powerful and most taciturn commercial banker in U. S. history
A 1934 article in Newsweek describes him as one of the most imposing figures in banking history. In the November 1994 issue of Worth magazine, James Grant, editor of a financial newsletter, calls Baker a hidebound turn-of-the-century banker who always got his loans repaid.
Baker provided much of the initial funding for Harvard Business School with a 1924 grant of $5 million, for which Harvard gave him an honorary doctorate and named the library after him. Baker also donated $2 million to Cornell for the construction of the Baker Laboratory of Chemistry, as well as Baker dormitories, and he endowed the Baker Lecture Series, the oldest continuous lectureship in chemistry in the United States. He made other large donations to charitable causes throughout New York City and funded the construction of Baker Field, Columbia University's primary athletic facility. He provided $2 million for Baker Memorial Library at Dartmouth College.
Baker was born in Troy, New York, to Eveline Stevens Baker and George Ellis Baker, a shoe-store owner who was elected in 1850 on the Whig ticket to the New York State Assembly. At 14, young George entered S.S. Seward Institute in Florida, New York, where he studied geography, bookkeeping, history, and algebra. At 16, he was hired as the junior clerk in the New York State Banking Department. He enlisted in the 18th Regiment of the Massachusetts Volunteers at the start of the Civil War, and rose to the rank of first lieutenant and adjutant.
He married Florence Tucker Baker (daughter of Benjamin Franklin Baker and Sophronia J. Whitney) in 1869, and was the father of:
- Evelyn Baker (1870–1936) m. 1891 Howard Bligh St. George
- Florence Bellows Baker (1876–1936) m. William Goadby Loew
- George Fisher Baker Jr. (1878–1937) m. Edith Brevoort Kane - Baker Jr.'s daughter Elizabeth would go on to marry John M. Schiff of Kuhn, Loeb & Co.
Top Hat LeBaron Pierce-Arrow
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In 1929, Baker commissioned the construction of a one-of-a-kind Pierce-Arrow town car for the wedding of his daughter. Built by LeBaron, the car's roof line was 5 inches taller than standard models so Baker could keep his top hat on. Trim lining in the rear compartment is made of 24-carat gold, as are perfume dispensers and an intercom. The car was rediscovered in 1978 in a barn in Ohio alongside a Rolls Royce Boat Tail Speedster formerly owned by Fred Astaire.. It is now part of the White Glove Collection in La Crosse, Wisconsin.
- 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
- James Grant. Money of the Mind. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux. 1992. p 55.
- Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Community Development Project. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved November 10, 2015.
- "All Paths Unite!". Time Magazine. 1934-03-26. Retrieved 2008-08-09.
- James Grant. Money of the Mind. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux. 1992. p 197.
- James Grant. Money of the Mind. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux. 1992.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to George Fisher Baker.|
- Works by or about George Fisher Baker at Internet Archive
- Baker family papers at Baker Library Historical Collections, Harvard Business School
- George F. Baker's 1929 Pierce Arrow Top Hat LaBaron at White Glove Collection
- "Banker Baker". Time Magazine. 1924-04-14. Retrieved 2008-08-09.
|Awards and achievements|
|Cover of Time Magazine
14 April 1924
Lou Henry Hoover