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Catalog Data

Gerdau, Otto  Search this
Orr, Craig  Search this
0.15 Cubic feet
Archival materials
Collection descriptions
The collection documents the ivory importing firm of Heinrich Adolf Meyer, of Hamburg, Germany.
Scope and Contents:
Documents relating to the ivory importing firm of Heinrich Adolf Meyer, of Hamburg, Germany. It contains a booklet on "Ivory" published by the firm in 1889, a photographic album on ivory published around the same time, one black and white photograph showing the largest and thickest tusks on record, two photographs showing the firms factory, a photostatic copy of the firm's 1876 US Centennial Exhibition catalog, and photostatic copies of notices of the awards it won at the Exhibition. Also included are photoprints from the photographic album and two copies of photoprints showing the company's exhibit at the Centennial. There is also one letter in the collection.
Biographical / Historical:
Otto Gerdau was the New York agent for the German firm of Heinrich Adolf Meyer. The firm was co-founded in Hamburg, Germany, in 1818 by Heinrich Adolf Meyer and his father Heinrich Christian Meyer. The firm specialized in the import and export of ivory and its various substitutes, in both raw and finished form. the company's first factory was built in 1836; a new, larger factory was built in 1864. After his father's death in 1848, Heinrich Adolf Meyer ran the company alone. Meyer was a prominent man in Hamburg. he received a Ph.d from the University of Kiel in 1865 and was elected to the German Reichstag in 1877. It was through his influence that the Hamburg Aquarium was built. Gerdau was a native of Hamburg, Germany. After emigrating to the United States, he founded the Otto Gerdau Company in New York in 1872. As the American agent for Heinrich Adolf Meyer, Gerdau imported ivory from germany. Following otto's death in 1920, his two sons, Carl and Allan, ran the company. Allan gradually assumed more responsibility for running the company's import lines which included rattan, mother of pearl, rugs from India, and marble furniture from Italy, in addition to ivory. After Allan died in 1986, the company was left in trust to three New York religious institutions who were to benefit from the company's profits. In 1989 the company was sold to a Florida industrialist and there is no longer any involvement in the company by the Gerdau Family.
Collection donated by Joan Rogers, January 1, 1990.
Collection is open for research.
Reproduction fees for commercial use. Contact repository for details.
Ivory  Search this
Ivory industry  Search this
Otto Gerdau Collection, 1876-1900, Archives Center, National Museum of American History
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Otto Gerdau Collection
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History