James Mayer de Rothschild (1782-1868)
James Mayer de Rothschild was the youngest child of Mayer Amschel Rothschild. He was born in the house of the Grünes Schild in the Jundengasse in Frankfurt on 15 August 1792. Six years later his brother Nathan left Frankfurt to further the family business which James himself was eventually to lead after Nathan's death.
From the age of 19, James was in Paris co-ordinating the purchase of specie and bullion for Nathan, and in 1814 and 1815 he was the linchpin in Nathan's masterplan to furnish Wellington's armies with funds. Remaining in Paris, first at rue Pelletier and then rue Laffitte, James founded the Rothschild firm of de Rothschild Frères. The House funded many loans to European governments and was instrumental in the development of railways in France and the rest of Europe.
James married his niece, Betty, the daughter of his brother Salomon, on 11 July 1824. The couple entertained on a grand scale, first in Paris and then in the château de Boulogne and at Ferrières. James became the trusted adviser of ministers and kings.
James held on to the reins of power within the family firm after the death of Nathan in 1836. His sons, brothers and nephews were in awe of his dynamic authority. Contemporaries remembered his quick wit, expressed in a heavy German accent, though the sharp tongue which went with it was not always benign. James was devoted to his extended family, but it was not beyond him to turn against any member whom he felt to have acted improperly. His response to the marriage of his niece, Hannah Mayer, displayed at once his demand for obedience and his faithfulness to the family's Jewish beliefs. His domination of the firm ended with his death on 15 November 1868.
The Archive holds little of James' private correspondence, and very few records relating to his estates and collections of art and objets d'art. A large commemorative photograph album (with images believed to be by Édouard Baldus) and one small volume containing a map (numbered volumes from a set of 25 each), commissioned by James de Rothschild in his capacity as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Chemin de Fer du Nord, recording the line between Paris and Boulogne, c.1855, will be found listed under The Paris banking house: French railway business: papers held in London.
James Mayer de Rothschild, cartes de visite, c.1865
000/2912/1-2, 2 items
Two cartes de visite photographs of, Baron James Mayer de Rothschild (1792-1868) by Disderi & Cie, Paris, c.1865. Both images would appear to have been taken in the same day, one shows him seated at a desk, reading a letter, the other shows him seated; calling card, 'Le Baron J.de Rothschild. Consul général de S. M. Tte et Rle Apque'.
James Mayer de Rothschild, sundry private correspondence, 1835-1867
000/1231, 000/1402, 000/1696, 000/2013/8, 000/2169, 000/2451, 6 items, 2 files
Sundry private correspondence of James Mayer de Rothschild. Many of these items have been acquired individually by the Archive. See Rothschild family: private correspondence for further sundry correspondence of James, acquired by the Archive in autograph letters collections, including a letter from James de Rothschild to the chevalier de Broval (Private Secretary to the Duke of Orléans, future Louis Philippe), offering his services to the Duchess of Orléans, 1817. (000/2125/2/1)
- Letter dated 6 March 1865, signed by James de Rothschild to the opera singer Adelina Patti, congratulating her on the previous evening's performance when she performed one of his niece's (possibly Hannah Mathilde) songs. He sends her a pineapple from Nice. [000/1696]
- Letter dated 29 April 1865 from Baron James de Rothschild to Frédéric Le Play (1806-1882), organiser of the Universal Exhibition, Paris. The International Exposition of 1867 (Exposition universelle d'art et d'industrie de 1867), was the second world's fair to be held in Paris, from 1 April to 3 November 1867. The letter concerns the financing methods necessary to ensure the success of the Exhibition. [000/2451]
- Letter signed by James Mayer de Rothschild (1792-1868) addressed to Monsieur le Chambellin, written from Compiègne (in French); note signed by R Bischoffsheim, written from rue Taitbout (in French); letter signed by R. Bischoffsheim. [000/1231]
- Letter from James Mayer de Rothschild to 'My Dear Count' [possibly Felix Baciocchi] explaining that an eye illness prevents his appearing in front of the Emperor as requested. [000/2013]
- Letter (undated) to James Mayer de Rothschild from Cavour [Camillo Benso, Count of Cavour, Italian statesman and a leading figure in the movement towards Italian unification]. [000/1402]
- Letter dated 1839 to James Mayer de Rothschild from 'Thiers'. [000/1402]
- Sundry papers including a small photograph of Ferrières; a blank invitation card to a hunting party; a receipt, signed by James, for the purchase of shares on Roman loan; a number of letters addressed to Mr de Beaumont de lapeyrouse; a statement of account; an official document announcing the awarding of the contract of the Société Anonyme du Canal de Jonction de la Sambre à l'Oise, 1835. [000/2169]
James Mayer de Rothschild, collection of autograph letters, 1848-c.1870
000/1618, 206 items
Collection of autograph letters addressed to James and Betty de Rothschild by members of the French royal family, members of the aristocracy, government ministers and politicians. The letters were acquired on the open market from a dealer; it is believed that they once formed part of the collection of archives of de Rothschild Freres that was subsequently deposited with the Archives Nationales de France by Baron Elie de Rothschild. It is thought that before the deposit was made, Baron Elie removed certain autographs and retained them; these were then subsequently lost or stolen, finding their way to the open market. The letters are arranged into folders under the following headings (this is the arrangement in which the letters arrived in the Archive):
- Orléans Family;
- Other Royal Houses;
- French Politics And Government;
- Other Correspondents;
- Letters From Members of The Rothschild Family.
James Mayer de Rothschild, phrenological assessments, 1869
000/2196, 1 item
The American Phrenological Journal And Life Illustrated: A Repository of Science, Literature and General Intelligence, Vol 49, 1869. The volume contains a phrenological assessment of James de Rothschild.
James Mayer de Rothschild: antisemitic pamphlets published by Dairnvaell and pamphlets published in response by James Mayer de Rothschild, 1846; 1891
000/225, 000/1038, 000/1604/1, 000/1323/17/1, 3 items, 1 volume
Between 1838 and 1851, Mathieu Georges Dairnvaell (1818-?) a French journalist and pamphleteer (who used the nom de plume 'Satan'), published several anti-semitic tracts. In 1846 he published a 36-page pamphlet, Rothschild 1er Ses Valets et son Peuple [The first Rothschild, his servants and his people], by ‘Satan Dernier’, (Paris, 1846). The pamphlet was a savage antisemitic attack on the Rothschilds, launching the canard that the fabulous wealth of the Rothschild banking family was amassed by Nathan Mayer Rothschild (1777-1836) through obtaining advance knowledge of the outcome of the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 and using this information to successfully play the stock market, and other false allegations against the Rothschild family. Another of Dairnvaell’s pamphlets, Rothschild Ier, Roi des Juifs [Rothschild I, King of the Jews] (Paris, 1846) attacked the Rothschilds and James Mayer de Rothschild’s Chemin de Fer du Nord, following a railway accident in July 1846.
James Mayer de Rothschild (1792-1868) published a response to these attacks; Réponse de Rothschild 1er Roi des Juifs a Satan Dernier, Roi des Imposteurs [Response of the first Rothschild, King of the Jews, to the Last Satan, King of Impostors], (Paris 1846). The publication takes the form of an illustrated, satirical pamphlet in verse prose, which is a defence of James’s father, Mayer Amschel Rothschild (1744-1812), and an account of the rise of the house of Rothschild, including an independent account of the derailment that took place on the Chemin de fer du Nord on 8 July 1846
- Rothschild 1er ses valets et son peuple par Satan Dernier, first edition, [Mathieu Georges Dairnvaell] (Chez L'Éditeur, Imprimerie de Bureau, Paris, 1846) (000/225);
- Rothschild Ier, Roi des Juifs [Mathieu Georges Dairnvaell] (Chez L'Éditeur, Imprimerie de Madame de Lacombe, Paris, 1846) (000/1604/1);
- Réponse de Rothschild 1er Roi des Juifs a Satan Dernier, Roi des Imposteurs, by James Mayer de Rothschild, (Ballay Ainé, Paris, 1846). (000/1038);
Bound volume containing copies of the antisemitic publications by Dairnvaell, and responses published to them. A later pamphlet from 1891 is also bound into this volume. The volume contains the following items: (000/1323/17/1):
- Rothschild Ier, Roi des Juifs [Mathieu Georges Dairnvaell] (Chez L'Éditeur, Imprimerie de Madame de Lacombe, Paris, 1846);
- Nouvelle Réponse du Prince des Israélites Rothschild Ier (A. Grégoire Librarie-Éditeur, 1846);
- Réponse de Rothschild 1er Roi des Juifs a Satan Dernier, Roi des Imposteurs, by James Mayer de Rothschild, (Ballay Ainé, Paris, 1846);
- Dix Jours de Règne de Réponse de Rothschild 1er Roi des Juifs, ou notes our server à l‘Histoire de la Fondation de la Monachie de ce Souverain, J.B. Mesnard, (Ballay Ainé, Paris, August 1846);
- Rothschild 1er ses valets et son peuple, second edition, G. Dairnvaell (Chez L’Éditeur, Paris, 1846);
- Les Rothschild par F.P (Librairies & Marchands de Journaux, Paris, 1891).
James Mayer de Rothschild, printed pamphlets, 'Public Letter' addressed to James Mayer de Rothschild concernimg 'Saint-Simonism', 1848
000/1241, 1 item
Printed pamphlet taking the form of a 'Public Letter' addressed to 'M.Rothschild' [James Mayer de Rothschild] from E.Barrault, Paris, August 1848, concerning the Saint-Simonism cause and the revolution. The Saint-Simon movement was founded by Claude Henri de Rouvroy, Count of Saint-Simon (1760-1825). He envisaged a synthesis of science and philosophy which could play a vital role in the new century. His ideas became linked to socialism,as Saint-Simonism theories emphasised the exploitation of the workers by a minority. In France, prior to 1830, the Saint-Simonians constituted a socialist movement which was confined to an elite. Following the revolutions, the movement spread both in Paris and the provinces.
James Mayer de Rothschild and Betty de Rothschild, marriage poem, 1824
000/1322, 1 item
Poem on the occasion of the marriage of James and Betty de Rothschild, Frankfurt, 11 July 1824, in German, printed on silk and bound in red velvet with family arms embroidered on the cover, bearing the bookplate of the library of James de Rothschild.
James Mayer de Rothschild, 70th Birthday Testimonial, 1862
000/2054/2, 1 item
Testimonial in the form of a song written in the honour of James de Rothschild on the occasion of his seventieth birthday on 5 May 1862.
James Mayer de Rothschild, funeral invitation, 1868
000/2125/1/3, 1 item
Printed invitation to the funeral of James de Rothschild, to be held on 18 November 1868.
James Mayer de Rothschild, will and codicils, 1868
000/240, 000/2054/1, 2 items
Copies of the will of Baron James de Rothschild, November 1868 and codicil, 1 September 1868. A red cloth folder, containing a letter by James de Rothschild to a lawyer in Frankfurt, 2 October 1827, sending a draft of his will, will be found in 000/848/39/3.
James Mayer de Rothschild, death notices and press reports, 1868
000/1622, 000/1814, 3 items
James Mayer de Rothschild: death notices and press reports:
- L'Univers Illustré, 21 November 1868, announcing the death of James de Rothschild, with portrait of James taken from a photograph and a brief obituary. [000/1814]
- Le Monde Illustré, 21 November 1868. Contains an article following the notice of the death of James de Rothschild and an engraving of the Baron from a Disderi photograph on the front cover. The article, by Pierre Veron, contains a number of anecdotes about James. [000/1622]
- L'Univers Illustré, 28 November 1868, with a front cover illustration showing the James's funeral. [000/1814]
James Mayer de Rothschild, 'Catalogue des Livres composant La Bibliothèque de Feu M. Le Baron James de Rothschild' (Catalogue of Library collections), 1884-1920
000/2656, 5 volumes
Catalogue of the Library of James de Rothschild (1792-1868):
- Catalogue des Livres composant La Bibliothèque de Feu M. Le Baron James de Rothschild: Volume I (Damascène Morgand, Librarie, Édouard Rahir Successeur. 55, Passage des Panoramas, Paris, 1884);
- Catalogue des Livres composant La Bibliothèque de Feu M. Le Baron James de Rothschild: Volume II (Damascène Morgand, Librarie, Édouard Rahir Successeur. 55, Passage des Panoramas, Paris, 1887);
- Catalogue des Livres composant La Bibliothèque de Feu M. Le Baron James de Rothschild: Volume III (Damascène Morgand, Librarie, Édouard Rahir Successeur. 55, Passage des Panoramas, Paris, 1893);
- Catalogue des Livres composant La Bibliothèque de Feu M. Le Baron James de Rothschild: Volume IV (Damascène Morgand, Librarie, Édouard Rahir Successeur. 55, Passage des Panoramas, Paris, 1912);
- Catalogue des Livres composant La Bibliothèque de Feu M. Le Baron James de Rothschild: Volume V (Damascène Morgand, Librarie, Édouard Rahir Successeur. 55, Passage des Panoramas, Paris, 1920).
Note:Stanford Libraries have digitised their copies of these volumes which can be found here »
James Mayer de Rothschild, Manuscript and Library collections, 'Talmudic commentaries', c.1798
000/437, 1 item
Talmudic commentaries, Hebrew manuscript dated c.1798, believed to have been owned by James. Catalogues of James' private library will be found in the Reading Room: Catalogue des livres composant la bibliotheque M. le Baron James de Rothschild, five volumes, Emile Picot (Damascene Margone Libraire, Paris, 1884) (ref 20/2017); Catalogue des livres composant la bibliotheque M. le Baron James de Rothschild, five volumes, Emile Picot (Burt Franklin, New York, 1965) (ref 19/2017).
James Mayer de Rothschild (1792-1868), Manuscript and Library collections, ‘Les Continuateurs de Loret’ , 1881-1882
000/2565, 2 volumes
James Mayer de Rothschild (1792-1868), Manuscript and Library collections, ‘Les Continuateurs de Loret’, printed reproductions of early French verse, collected and published by Baron James de Rothschild. Jean Loret (c.1600-1665) was a French writer and poet known for publishing the weekly news of Parisian society (including the court of Louis XIV) from 1650 until 1665 in verse in what he called a gazette burlesque. He is sometimes referred to as the 'father of journalism' as a result of his topical writings. After his death, several other writers continued the tradition of gazette burlesque until nearly the end of the century.
- Volume I (Mai 1665-Juin 1666): Les Continuateurs de Loret. Lettres en Vers de la Gravette de Mayolas, Robinet, Boursault, Perdou de Subligny, Laurent et Autres (1665-1689), recueillies et publiées par le Baron James de Rothschild (Damascène Morgand et Charles Fatout, Paris, 1881). No.47 of 100 copies printed on ‘papier de Hollande Van Gelder';
- Volume II (Juillet 1666-Décembre 1667): Les Continuateurs de Loret. Lettres en Vers de la Gravette de Mayolas, Robinet, Boursault, Perdou de Subligny, Laurent et Autres (1665-1689), recueillies et publiées par le Baron James de Rothschild (Damascène Morgand Libraire, Paris, 1882).
Note: a third volume was published in 1889. The Archive does not hold a copy of this third volume.
James Mayer de Rothschild, memorial tributes, 1868; 1898
000/211/15, 000/852/12, 000/1290/4, 1 item, 1 volume, 1 folder
Sundry memorial tributes to James Mayer de Rothschild:
- Program for the Gedächtnisfeier [Memorial celebration] for James de Rothschild, 29 November 1868, in the Great Synagogue, Frankfurt am Main [photocopy];
- Bound collection of pamphlets in Hebrew, (1874-1898). The last item in the volume is a tribute to the life of Baron James de Rothschild;
- sundry engravings of Baron James de Rothschild taken from unknown publications, presumed published after his death.
James de Rothschild: memorial volume published by the Directors of the Chemin de Fer du Nord, 1868
000/2731, 1 volume
James Mayer de Rothschild (1792-1868): memorial volume published by the Directors of the Chemin de Fer du Nord, 1868: Black cloth binding, with monogram 'RR' in gold on the cover, and James' French Rothschild crest in gold on the back cover: A La Mémoire du Baron James Mayer de Rothschild, Président do Conseil D’Administration du Chemin du Fer du Nord, (Published by L. Daniel, Lille, 1868) [In Memory of Baron James Mayer de Rothschild, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Northern Railway Company]. Recuil des discourses pronouncés sur le tomb de Baron James de Rothschild et des principaux articles de journeax publiés a l'occassion de sa mort et de ses funérailles. Ce recueil, tiré à vingt-cinq exemplaires est offert a Madame Baronne James de Rothschild et a sa famille par le personnel du Chemin de Fer du Nord. [Collection of speeches made at the tomb of Baron James de Rothschild and of the main articles of the newspapers published on the occasion of his death and his funeral. This collection, printed in twenty-five copies is offered to Baroness James de Rothschild [Betty, Baroness James de Rothschild (née von Rothschild) (1805-1886)] and her family by the staff of the Northern Railway Company]. The volume includes copies of speeches made by the Directors of the Chemin du fer du Nord and funeral sermons and obituaries published in Le Temps, Journal des debats, L'Epoque and other perodicals.
Another copy will be found in the Ascott Collection I, 000/924/3/2, bookplate 'Ascott House'; this copy has James' French Rothschild crest in gold on both sides of the the cover. Another copy will also be found in the Rushbrooke Collection I, 000/848/27, bookplate 'Tring Park', this copy has James' French Rothschild crest in gold on both sides of the cover.
James Mayer de Rothschild, secondary sources 'James de Rothschild' and 'Baron James', 1981; 1983
000/983/1-2, 2 volumes
Anka Muhlstein is the daughter of Diane Cecile de Rothschild (1907-1996) and Anatole Muhlstein (1889-1957). James Mayer de Rothschild (1792-1868) is Anka's Great-great-grandfather.
- James de Rothschild, Anka Muhlstein (Éditions Gallimard, 1981). A biography of the life of Baron James de Rothschild (1792-1868).
- Baron James: the rise of the French Rothschilds, Anka Muhlstein (William Collins Sons and Co. Ltd, 1983). The English edition of the volume published by Anka Muhlstein in 1981.
James Mayer de Rothschild: modern sale catalogues of collections, 'Rothschild Masterpieces', 2023
000/2992, 3 volumes
French Rothschild family (collections of Baron James de Rothschild): sale catalogues Rothschild Masterpieces, New York, October 2023:
- Rothschild Masterpieces: Gallery Guide (Christie's New York, 2023);
- Rothschild Masterpieces: Evening Sale, New York, 11 October 2023 (Christie's New York, 2023);
- Rothschild Masterpieces: The Kunstkammer - I and Le Gout Rothschild - II, New York, 12-13 October 2023 (Christie's New York, 2023).
As reported in the art Newspaper, 5 September 2023, "A vast collection of art, furniture, silver, ceramics and jewellery long held in the private collection of the Rothschild banking dynasty is expected to sell for as much as $30m over several auctions this autumn at Christie's New York. The sales will mark the first dedicated auction in North America of works from the French branch of the longtime banking family. Most of the lots were acquired in the 19th century by Baron James Mayer de Rothschild - the founder of the French branch of the family - his wife, Betty, and their son Alphonse, and have remained in their descendents' collection since. The collection includes art acquired by the family, particularly Old Masters pictures... furniture, ceramics (like important Italian Renaissance maiolica), silver, tapestries and jewellery that illustrate the Rothschilds' distinct taste... the consignors, members of the French branch of the Rothschild family who descended from James Mayer de Rothschild, specifically wanted to hold the sale in New York, according to Christie's."