Agents' correspondence: August Belmont & Co
August Belmont (1813-1890) had worked his way up through the ranks of clerks in the Rothschild Bank in Frankfurt when he was sent to America aged twenty-three years old in 1837. The plan was for him to travel via New York to Havana to investigate how the Cuban economy and the various Rothschild interests there were being affected by the Spanish Civil War. However, he arrived in New York in the middle of a crash to find the existing representatives of Rothschild (J.L. and S.I. Joseph & Co.) had gone out of business. Using his own initiative he set up an office in New York and began to act as the Rothschild agent there. Belmont rented a small room at 78 Wall Street and began to speculate in cotton and securities. He purchased stock on behalf of NMR, handled bills and traded in tobacco, lead and quicksilver as well as handling the various government and railway loans the Rothschild Bank made in the USA. Belmont correspondence can be found in the series of two departments: The American Department (series II) and the Correspondence Department (series XI).
XI/62/0-30 Belmont, August & Co. General and Private Business Correspondence, 1837-1880
II/51/0-37 August Belmont & Co. General and Private Business Correspondence, 1881-1920
XI/62/31-44 (000/871) Belmont, August & Co. General and Private Business Correspondence, 1921-1934
II/55/0-25 August Belmont & Co. Private Business Correspondence, 1889-1920
Papers in the American Department (series II) will be found listed below; papers in the Correspondence Department (series XI) will be found here: Go to Belmont papers in the Correspondence Department »
August Belmont & Co. General and Private Business Correspondence, 1881-1920
II/51/0-37 , 73 boxes
The papers in II/51 spanning 1881-1920 would appear to fill the years missing in the middle of the XI/62 series. Early and later Belmont correspondence (1837-1880 and 1921-1934) will be found in XI/62/0-44.
The letters date from Belmont's first days in New York when he was handling business on behalf of NMR with the agents in Havana, his original destination. For at least the first year of the correspondence, Belmont wrote in German, but the bulk of the correspondence is in English. The private letters show Belmont dealing with the purchase of stock on behalf of NMR, shipping specie, handling bills and trading in tobacco, lead and quicksilver. Belmont provides a commentary on the markets and assesses political developments. There is a good deal of information in the series on all aspects of the American railroads including the organisation of railroad companies, new extensions to lines and the issue of railway bonds to cover construction costs. General correspondence within the series is made up of routine advices of payments on letters of credit and acknowledgements of NMR's remittances. The entire series provides a clear picture of the operation of an agency.
August Belmont & Co. Private Business Correspondence, 1889-1920
II/55/0-25, 33 boxes
These mainly typescript letters are written on behalf of Belmont's house to NMR although a few, addressed to 'Lord Rothschild' and one or two to 'Mr Leopold', are more personal, handwritten notes, often referring to Leopold de Rothschild's and Belmont's shared interest in racing. The series basically covers various aspects of the general business. The letters include market reports, details of industrial disputes (such as the Pittsburgh steelworkers' strike), harvests and legislation. Among the letters there are printed reports and circulars mainly relating to the US cotton crop and various railroad companies, as well as the New York Weekly Financial Report and stock exchange quotations.
From 1902 to 1914, the correspondence includes private business letters from the company Ladenburg, Thalmann & Co., not all of which are complete. In the early years of the century there are also a few letters from Lee, Higginson & Co. writing from Boston. This firm undertook an exchange business with NMR from November 1901, and together with Ladenburg, Thalmann & Co. supplied NMR with news similar to that provided by Belmont on the financial and commodity markets. They also offered suggestions to NMR as to where profitable business might be done. The letters from Ladenburg, Thalmann & Co provide information on the movement of prices and the financial situation of commodity (coal, crops and bullion) and utility companies, including details of their organisation and management.
August Belmont & Co, Bill of Exchange, n.d.
000/2250/16, 1 item
Unused bill of exchange of N M Rothschild & Sons for use by Rothschild's New York Agent, August Belmont & Co., undated. From a collection of framed documents removed from the NMR Archive Department c.1990 and framed for display at New Court. Its provenance in the collection is now unknown.