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The Lafite Papers

The Lafite Papers

This collection consists of papers of the French Rothschild family. The papers were formerly held in Bank vault of de Rothschild Frères, rue Laffitte, Paris. The papers mainly relate to private finances, including a large series of volumes of Accounts of family members; also included are files concerning the family's properties, wills and charitable activities, as well as a number of business files. Upon nationalisation of the French Bank in 1981, the papers were transferred to Château Lafite. At the instigation of Baron Eric de Rothschild the papers were reviewed, listed and later transferred to the Rothschild Archive in London in 1994. At the time of listing they were assigned reference numbers reflecting their location at the Château: they were stored in the library, in a barn, under the stairs and in a safe in an outhouse. On arrival at The Rothschild Archive they were catalogued according to the following structure to reflect, as far as possible, the way they most likely were kept at the Bank:

  • Papers generated by the Bank re the operation of the Bank
  • Papers relating to the family's properties and estates handled by the Bank on behalf of the family
  • Papers held in the Bank for safekeeping, mainly concerning personal matters including estates, philanthropy, collections, and family events

Further papers of the French family were transferred to The Rothschild Archive from Château Lafite in 2001; this accession, known as The Lafite Papers II is not available for public consultation. In 2020, three stray volumes of accounts which had become separated from the main series in the Lafite Papers were acquired. Accessioned as 000/2663, these volume have been placed in the correct sequence within this series. 

Access to some of these collections is restricted at the request of the donors and depositors. All papers later than 1945 are currently closed to researchers; for further information please contact The Rothschild Archive »

The Lafite Papers I

The Lafite Papers I, papers of the French Rothschild family, 1710-1959

000/0929, 000/0931 and 000/932 , 417 boxes and 179 volumes

This collection consists of papers of the French Rothschild family. The papers were formerly held in Bank vault of de Rothschild Frères, rue Laffitte, Paris. Upon nationalisation of the French Bank in 1981, these papers were transferred to Château Lafite. The papers mainly relate to private finances, including a large series of volumes of Accounts of family members; also included are files concerning the family's properties, wills and charitable activities, as well as a number of business files. These papers were deposited with the Rothschild Archive Trust by Baron Eric de Rothschild in 1994. Volumes bear an OA or OB reference; files, an OC, OE, OL, or OP reference.  

The Lafite Papers I: Papers of the French banking house, 1823-1949

The major part of this material is from one series relating to the family's own accounts. In the Current Account Ledgers may be found details of the outgoings of various members of the French family. The ledgers record expenditure on their artistic interests, including the purchase of paintings (a Delacroix by Arthur, OB 7, a Van Dyck by Gustave, OB 8), and of objets d'art, particularly Sevres and Saxon porcelain. There are payments for dancing and fencing lessons by Alphonse for his children (OB 6). Accounts for the stud farm at Meautry owned by Alphonse and his son Edouard highlight their racing activities, while the charitable concerns of many family members are reflected in donations to individuals and establishments. A series of cash books from 1930-1938 relate to both family and non-family members, charities, companies and banks (OA 93-OA 146). Also in this group are a number of letters from clients of the Bank, many of which appear to have been conserved for their interest as autographs (OC 262-OC 303). Honore de Balzac (OC2 68), the Queen of Spain (OC 288), Marcel Proust (OC 271) and Princesse Mathilde Bonaparte (OC 286) figure among these eminent names.

The Lafite Papers I: French family estates 1710-c.1945

All the most important properties of the French Rothschild family are represented here, both their country estates and their houses in Paris. There are numerous bundles of title deeds which shed light on the development of Gustave's estate, Laversine (OE 490-OE 495), the stud farm Meautry in Calvados (OE 512-OE 520) and Edmond's estate, Armainvilliers in the Seine-et-Marne region . There are deeds of conveyance and exchange, and plans and sketches relating to the Moorish villas acquired and built by Beatrice Ephrussi, nee de Rothschild, on the Cote d'Azur (OE 468-OE 471); one file relates to her bequest to the nation of her villa Ile-de-France (OE 341), while other papers provide details of the management of estates (Armainvilliers OE 359, Ferrieres OE 534, Laversine OC 177, OE 535, Paris property tenancy statements OC 184, etc). Also in this group are builders' estimates for decorating, plumbing, masonry, carpentry, and so on, which provide insight into the renovations and extensions (OC 188-OC 190, OE 468).

The Lafite Papers I: Personal papers 1815-1959

Most of the papers connected with the personal lives of family members relate to the winding-up of their estates. They provide a fascinating picture of their private lives. Lists and inventories of objets d'art shed further light on their collecting interests and artistic predilections (OC 259, OC 260), while the family's far-reaching philanthropy is revealed in gifts and legacies to individuals and establishments, including hospitals (OE 337), charitable concerns (OE 326) and the Louvre and Cluny museums (OE 454). There are also papers relating to the marriage ceremonies of various family members (OE 434-OE 444), invoices and correspondence.

List available