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Charles Lewis Tiffany Biography

Born: Feb. 15, 1812 Killingly, Conn.

Died: Feb. 18, 1902 New York, N.Y.

From: Twentieth Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans 1904

Charles Lewis Tiffany, merchant, was born at Killingly, Conn., Feb. 15, 1812; son of Comfort and Chloe (Draper) Tiffany, and a descendant of Humphrey Tiffany, who emigrated from England, and was killed by lightning near Boston, July 15, 1685. His father was a pioneer manufacturer of cotton goods. He attended school at Danielsonville, Conn., and Plainfield academy; engaged in business in Brooklyn, Conn., and later joined his father in the cotton manufactory, under the name of C. Tiffany and Son. In 1837 he became associated with John B. Young in the establishment of a stationery business in New York city. They also handled Chinese and Japanese goods, and French jewelry. Mr. Tiffany was married, Nov. 30, 1841, to Harriet Olivia Avery, daughter of Judge Ebenezer Young of Connecticut. In 1848 the firm began the manufacture of gold jewelry. During the panic that followed the disturbances in France in 1848, diamonds declined fifty per cent., and Mr. Tiffany invested all the available resources of the firm in the purchase of these gems. They consequently became the largest diamond merchants in the country. A branch house was established in Paris in 1850. The firm of Tiffany and Company were the first to introduce the English standard of sterling silver into the manufacture of silver ware. Mr. Tiffany was elected a chevalier of the Legion of Honor of France; and received the honor of Praemia Digno from the Emperor of Russia. He was a fellow of the Geographical society; a trustee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art; and a member of the New York Historical society and of the Chamber of Commerce. He died in New York city, Feb. 18, 1902.


Johnson, Rossiter, ed.
Twentieth Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans.
Vol. I-X. Boston, MA, USA: The Biographical Society, 1904.

Charles Lewis Tiffany Biography

Born: Feb. 15, 1812 Danielsonville, Conn.

From: America's Successful Men 1895

CHARLES LEWIS TIFFANY, founder of the house of Tiffany & Co., a man of great force of character and of remarkably quick and accurate judgment, is a prominent representative of the sixth generation of descent from Squire Humphrey Tiffany of England. The family lived for several generations in Massachusetts. Comfort Tiffany, the father of Charles L. Tiffany, married Chloe Draper and moved to Danielsonville, Conn., to engage in the manufacture of cotton goods, and here Charles L., his oldest son, was born, Feb. 15, 1812. He received his primary education at Danielsonville in a typical New England school, followed by a course at the Plainfield Academy and the Brooklyn, Conn., school. His first business training young Tiffany received in his father's cotton mill and country store. In 1837, at the age of twenty-five, he conceived the idea of going to New York, then a city of 200,000 inhabitants, to join his schoolmate and friend, John B. Young, who had six months before obtained employment in a stationery and fancy goods store in that city. Mr. Tiffany's father agreed to loan the young men $1,000, and they formed a partnership. Sept. 18, 1837, under the firm name of Tiffany & Young, in the face of perhaps the greatest commercial crisis in the history of the metropolis, they opened a little fancy goods and stationery store at No. 259 Broadway, in the lower half of an old-fashioned double dwelling house, with a front of about fifteen feet. From this small beginning has sprung the present house of Tiffany & Co.

Mr. Tiffany was quick to see the artistic and popular value of the Chinese and Japanese goods, which at that time began to be imported into this country at Boston, and he was the first to introduce them prominently before the New York public. In addition, the store was stocked with many other novel and unique goods, umbrellas, walking sticks, cabinets, fans, pottery and curiosities of every description. His idea proved a success from the start. Although the first three days sales amounted only to $4.98, the following year saw a steady growth of the business, and early in 1841 it was necessary to rent an adjoining store on the corner of Warren street. Bohemian glassware, French and Dresden porcelain, cutlery, clocks and fancy Parisian jewelry, in the order named, were added to the display.

In 1841, J. L. Ellis was admitted to the firm, which then took the name of Tiffany, Young & Ellis. The business had now assumed such proportions that the disadvantage of importing, without thorough personal knowledge of the European markets, made it expedient to send one of the members of the firm abroad annually, to secure the choicest novelties for their exclusive trade. In 1847, continued growth led to a removal to No. 271 Broadway. The firm undertook the manufacture of their own jewelry and silverware in 1848, and soon made this an important branch of their business. Their productions were, from the beginning, unique, fashioned with the highest skill, and designed to appeal to the best taste.

Diamond jewelry, watches, clocks, silverware and bronzes soon became the leading elements in the sales. The year 1848 was a notable one with this firm. Political disturbances in Paris caused diamonds to depreciate about fifty per cent in value. All the available funds of the house were invested in diamonds. Large and valuable purchases were made abroad, and Tiffany, Young & Ellis at once took first rank as diamond merchants in the United States. This first large purchase of precious stones was followed by many others. In 1887, at the sale of the crown jewels of France, they bought for $500,000 one-third of the entire quantity offered.

In 1850, Gideon F. T. Reed, formerly of Lincoln, Reed & Co., the leading jewelers of Boston, was admitted into partnership, and immediately afterward the first branch house was established at 79 Rue Richelieu, Paris, Mr. Reed becoming the resident partner and conducting the branch house under the firm name of Tiffany, Reed & Co. This branch house proved an invaluable acquisition to the firm, Mr. Reed's residence abroad enabling him to take prompt advantage of fluctuations in foreign markets, and it developed a large and profitable local trade in Paris. The Parisian branch now occupies spacious quarters at Avenue de l'Opera 36 bis. Since the retirement of Mr. Reed, it has been continued under the name of Tiffany & Co.

One of the first of Tiffany & Co.'s innovations was to use the highest practicable grade of silver in all their productions. They introduced the English standard of sterling silver, 925-1000 fine, and their example was immediately followed by all the other leading silversmiths of that period. Under the direction of the late Edward C. Moore, the originality and artistic beauty of the Tiffany silverware soon became so marked that prizes and extraordinary commendation were won at every successive World's Fair. At the recent Columbian Exposition, the house received fifty-six awards. Mr. Moore was a thoroughly practical silversmith and an artist of the highest order. His work created a new school of art metal workers, whose products were marked by an individuality and strength of character wholly different from that of any other manufacturer. The house developed a large business in the making of special presentation pieces. The modest little shop in which manufacturing was begun has grown to almost an entire block in Prince street, giving employment to about five hundred men.

In 1853, Mr. Young and Mr. Ellis retired. New partners were then admitted, and from that day the firm has been known as Tiffany & Co. In 1854, they moved to 550 Broadway, and then, in 1861, leased the adjoining building at No. 552. During the War, Mr. Tiffany was a staunch Union man and his store became a large depot for military supplies. In 1868, the firm were incorporated, with Charles L. Tiffany, president and treasurer; Gideon F. T. Reed, vice president; Charles T. Cook, general superintendent and assistant treasurer; and George McClure, secretary. Upon Mr. Reed's retirement in 1875, Mr. Cook succeeded as vice president. Charles T. Cook's connection with the house, of which he is now vice president, dates back to 1847, and, with forty-seven years service to his credit, he heads the list as the oldest employee of the company. He entered the employ of Tiffany, Young & Ellis at the age of twelve, his business capital consisting of an extraordinary capacity for work, a marvelous memory, and uniformly good health. Since the incorporation of the business, he has shared with Mr. Tiffany the responsibility of its general management. To his executive abilities and judgment, Mr. Tiffany attributes much of the success which has come to the house.

Tiffany & Co. established a branch house in London in 1868. In 1870, they erected their present building at Fifteenth street and Union Square. Other new departments were added to the business, and the manufacture of electro-plated silverware was undertaken at works in Newark, N.J. There seems to be no limit to the expansion of the business of this great firm. Its operations are a marvel of the day. They are all, however, simply the outgrowth of the discriminating sagacity, the originality, and the energy exercised in the management of the business.

Mr. Tiffany is universally esteemed. He has never aspired to public office but has risen to a high position in the financial and social life of the city. A founder of The New York Society of Fine Arts and of the Union League club, he has also been a patron of The Metropolitan Museum of Art and a trustee of The American Museum of Natural History. His strong financial standing has caused his name to be sought by financial institutions, and he is a director in The Bank of the Metropolis, The Pacific Bank, The American Surety Co., and The State Trust Co. He is also a member of The National Academy of Design, American Geographical Society, New York Historical Society, the Chamber of Commerce and other organizations. In 1878, when the house was awarded the Grand Prix at the Paris Exposition, he was created Chevalier of the National Legion of Honor, and from the Emperor of Russia, Mr. Tiffany received the Gold Medal Praemia Digno, an exceptional tribute. The list of royal appointments is a long one, and practically includes all the royal courts of Europe.


Hall, Henry, ed.
America's Successful Men
Published by: The New York Tribune, New York NY, 1895.

Biographical Sketch for Charles Lewis Tiffany

Born: Feb. 15, 1812 New York

From: Succinct Biographies of Famous Men and Women 1902

TIFFANY, CHARLES LEWIS, founder of the firm of Tiffany and Company, was born Feb. 15, 1812, in New York. He is a founder of the New York Society of Fine Arts and of the Union League club. He has also been a patron of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and a trustee of the American Museum of Natural History He is a prominent representative of the sixth generation of descent from Squire Humphrey Tiffany of England. The family lived for several generations in Massachusetts. In 1867 he established the present house of Tiffany and Company of New York city, which is to-day the leading jewelry house in America.


Herringshaw, Thomas William, ed.
Accurate and Succinct Biographies of Famous Men and Women in All Walks of Life ...
American Publishers Association, Chicago 1902.

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