Return to the Forum homepage


19-23 rue Lafitte: sundry papers

James Mayer de Rothschild (1792-1868) was in Paris from the age of 19. Originally trading as J M Rothschild, in 1817, James established a permanent business in Paris, under the corporate name of de Rothschild Frères with his brothers as partners. The business was housed in a mansion on the rue D’Artois which was later renamed rue Laffitte in honour of Louis Philippe’s minister. James added the adjacent buildings so the offices occupied numbers 19, 21 and 23. When James died in 1868, his sons Alphonse (1827-1905), Gustave (1829-1911) and Edmond (1845-1934), became partners in the bank, with Alphonse taking the leading role. After Alphonse' death in 1905, his son Edouard (1868-1949), took over the firm, 

In 1940, under the Vichy regime, the Rothschild bank buildings in the rue Laffitte were occupied by the 'Secours national', who had its central administration in 21, rue Laffitte. The Secours national had originally been founded on the outbreak of war in 1914, on the initiative of Albert Kahn, to provide asistance to the military and their families. At the beginning the Second World War, the Secours National was reactivated by Government decree. Under a decree in May 1940, a credit facility of 50 million francs was allocated to the National Secours; a further decree of July 1940, allocated to the organisation the proceeds of the liquidation of the property of the Frenchmen who had been deprived of their nationality and Secours national became a powerful instrument of propaganda. In 1944, after the Liberation, it became 'Entr'aide Francaise' remaining in 21, rue Laffitte until 1949. 

In 1949, Guy de Rothschild (1909-2007) took over as head of the French business. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the bank's offices were extensively remodelled. Following French government reform of banking regulations, de Rothschild Frères became Banque Rothschild, a limited-liability company in 1967, the same year in which the Paris bank celebrated the 150th anniversary of its foundation, and occupation in the rue Lafitte. In 1967 the decision was made to rebuild the offices in the rue Lafitte, making way for a striking modern concrete building. Lillian de Rothschild (1916-2002), wife of Baron Elie de Rothschild (1917-2007), was extremely knowledgeable about art, and had a flair for design, and she supervised the interior decoration in collaboration with Michel Boyer. At Easter 1970, the new modern bank building was inaugurated at 21 rue Laffitte, Paris. 

Between 1981-1982, Banque Rothschild, was one of 39 to be nationalised by the French government, and the Rothschilds were obliged to leave the rue Laffitte. 

M M de Rothschild Frères: reports of letter bomb attack on the Paris house, 'Le Petit Journal – Supplément Illustré' and 'Le Journal Illustré', 1895

000/582; 000/1458, 3 items

Press reports of the letter bomb attack on the Paris house in the rue Lafitte in 1895, which seriously injured the chief clerk of de Rothschild Frères, M.Bernard Jodkowitz, when he opened a latter bomb intended to assassinate Alphonse de Rothschild (1827-1911). According to contemporary press reports, a large letter arrived at rue Laffitte addressed to Baron Alphonse de Rothschild; the envelope was marked ‘personal’ and ‘please forward’. As the Baron was away, the letter was opened by one of his trusted men, Bernard Jodkowitz, head clerk. Immediately there was a violent explosion and Mr Jodkowitz was seriously injured in the face and hands. The pince-nez he wore fortunately saved his sight and he eventually recovered from his ordeal. Forensic testing later revealed that the letter was full of mercury explosive.

  • Le Petit Journal – Supplément Illustré, No. 251, 8 September 1895, reporting the letter bomb attack on the Paris house. (000/582)
  • Le Journal Illustré, Sunday 8 September 1895, with an illustration by Henri Meyer depicting the letter bomb attack on the Paris house. (000/1458)

M M de Rothschild Frères: papers concerning re-modelling of the rue Lafitte, 1956-1965

000/2112, 1 file

Folder containing plans, correspondence and papers concerning the remodelling of the premises of the Bank of de Rothschild Frères, rue Lafitte, Paris.

M M de Rothschild Frères: modern photographs of the rue Lafitte, 2000

000/879/7-9, 3 items

A small collection of contemporary photographs, taken by staff of the Archive in 2000 of former Rothschild properties in Paris: 17 rue Laffitte, Paris and 21 rue Laffitte, Paris.