Two Jacobs, Stiner and Berlfein, became partners in the manufacture of coats
and suits around 1906. They moved into this building just off Madison Ave. around 1912
and stayed here for about 5 years. This sign, then, dates in the range 1912-17.
Jacob Berlfein (born Austria ca.1864, immigrated 1888) died around 1915. His wife Charlotte Berlfein appears in the U. S. Census of 1920 living as a widow at 143 W. 111th St. with 2 sons, Irving and Milton, and 2 daughters, Hannah and Sadie. Charlotte Berlfein died in 1951 at the age of 87, "for many years a dramatic coach" (New York Times, 3 June 1951, p. 95). The Berlfeins had a son who had a career in vaudeville and motion pictures under the name Jay Mills (ca.1898-1951). This was probably Irving Berlfein, who in the 1920 U. S. Census gave his occupation as "salesman, button store." The Internet Movie Database cites Jay Mills as an actor in Susie's Affairs (1934), a musical comedy short starring Betty Grable.
Jacob Stiner (ca.1866-1936) was a native New Yorker, in the cloaks business at least as early as 1904. He appears in he 1930 U. S. Census living on E. 76th St., age 66, and apparently retired (he gives his occupation as "none").
There was also a Max Berlfein (ca.1880-?) in the business towards the end of its run (1917). Max was an immigrant from Austria and possibly Jacob's younger brother.
This ad for Stiner & Berlfein appeared in The American Cloak & Suit Review, Jan. 1914.
Above Stiner & Berlfein in this photo are:
Markowitz / Co (click for detail) Ida Markowitz was born in Russia, April, 1883, and immigrated to the U. S. ca.1892/95. She is found in the U. S. Census of 1900, age 17, living with 6 sisters on Henry St. downtown on the East Side in Manhattan. The sisters were all born in Russia and immigrated during the years 1892 to 1897. Ida is also found in the 1910 U. S. Census, now living on West 112th St. with a brother and one sister. She gives her occupation as Manufacturer Waists. Ida Markowitz started her waist manufacturing company at 329 Columbus Ave. (near 75th St.) in 1909, and opened a second location called Markowitz Waist Co. to 133 W. 24th St. in 1910. Markowitz Waist Co. moved in to 14 E. 32nd St. in 1911. This ad for The Markowitz Co. appeared in Fairchild's Women's Wear Directory, July 1911. The location on Columbus Ave. continued until 1912, and there is a firm called Ida Markowitz, Gowns and Markowitz Specialty Shop at 2161 Broadway (near 76th St.) in 1913 to 1914. It is possible that these locations were retail shops as opposed to manufacturing sites. However, by the time the company moved to 14 E. 32nd St. management had been taken over by the Kossoff family, consisting of Jacob Kossoff (1880-1964), his wife, Fannie Kossoff (1880-?), and his brother, Philip Kossoff (1879-?). The Kossoffs were immigrants from Russia. Jacob and Philip were sons of Joseph Kosofsky (ca. 1851/52-?), born Russia, immigrated 1889/90. A third son, Benjamin Kossoff (1888-1972), was also involved in the business. The company was called Markowitz Co. from 1912 to 1924. They were located at 14 E. 32nd St. 1912 to 1917. They continued around the corner at 153-159 Madison Ave. 1917 to 1924. This Markowitz ad dates from 1918. This one is from the American Cloak & Suit Review and dates from 1922. Markowitz Co. were renamed Markowitz-Kossoff around 1926-28, and were possibly renamed again Kossoff & Zeiger from 1929 to 1930.
H C Schroeder Co / Gowns / Suits & Coats (click for detail) - In 1900 Henrietta Schroeder (born New York, Sept. 1864, died California, Aug. 1939) was living as a boarder on W. 54th St. in New York. In the U S Census of that year she listed her occupation as a clothing designer. In the same census George E. W. Burley (born Iowa, April 1870, died California, Oct. 1958) lived with his father, John Burley, in Denver, Colorado. Burley's occupation was that of a dry goods buyer, perhaps working for his father who was a dry goods merchant. By 1902 Henrietta Schroeder had founded her own company H. C. Schroeder Co. to manufacture cloaks and suits. And by 1907 she had married George Burley (they had been married 3 years at the time of the 1910 census). Burley seems to have taken over the company by the time it moved to 14 E. 32nd St. ca. 1911. He is listed as president in Trow's New York City Directory of 1911. By 1925 the company had left E. 32nd St. and had been renamed Burley-Schroeder Inc. manufacturing dresses. The Burleys seem to have been childless. They appear in the U S Census of 1930 living alone at Hampton Towers, Jamaica, Queens. Burley-Schroeder Co. went out of business around 1932/33.
Beneath Stiner & Berlfein are several more signs, including:
Levy, Schwade / & Co / Misses / Cloaks & Suits (click for detail) : Levy, Schwade & Co. manufactured coats and suits here at 14 E. 32nd St. from 1911 to 1915. Martin B. Levy (1868/69-192?) was a native New Yorker who died in the early 1920s. Jacob Schwade (1878-?) was born in Russia, immigrated in 1891, and became a naturalized citizen 2 Aug. 1899. Levy, Schwade & Co. was located at 85 5th Ave. from around 1906 to 1911. The partnership dissolved around 1915. By 1916/17 Levy was a partner at E. Lowenstein & Co. on E. 35th St., and Schwade had his own company, Jacob Schwade Cloak & Suit Co. at 40 W. 17th St. Both seem to have been short-lived enterprises. By the time of the U. S. Census of 1930 Schwade had relocated to Chicago. Schwade's son Tilden Schwade (ca1910-1957) also had a career in clothing manufacture. He was sales manager for Jack Stern Originals at 325 W. Jackson Blvd., Chicago at the time of his death in 1957.
M Schiff / & Bro / Cloaks & Suits (click for detail) : The M in M. Schiff & Bro. is Max Schiff (1864-?) and the bro is Morris Schiff (1877-?). Both were born in Russia. Max immigrated in the early 1880s and Morris around 1890. The business began in 1896/97 on Forsyth St. and went from there to Division St. between 1899 and 1905. They were located at 11 E. 16th St. from 1906 to 1912, then moved to 14 E. 32nd St. where they stayed until 1918. The business closed in the early 1920s. Max Schiff died in the late 1910s, and his place in the firm was taken by his son, Louis Schiff (1892-1980). Morris Schiff seems never to have married. He appears in the 1920 U. S. Census living with his nephew, Louis Schiff, on W. 158th St. By 1930 Morris Schiff was living at the Level Club at 253 W. 73rd St. In 1942 Morris Schiff, age 64, registered for the World War II draft while still living at the Level Club. He gives his employer as Samuel Kaplan & Sons, 209 W. 38th St. The Level Club was constructed in 1927 as a headquarters for a group of Masons known as The Levelers. It is not likely that Morris Schiff was a Mason. By 1930 the club had become an open-to-all men's hotel. For more on the Level Club visit the Corcoran Real Estate website. Louis Schiff stayed in garment manufacture with Fenimore Frocks (in business from 1924 to 1934) and later Town Classics.
Aaron B Mergentheim / Costumes / Dresses Waists (click for detail) : Aaron B. Mergentheim & Co. was a short-lived enterprise, starting out in 1909, moving here to 14 E. 32nd St. in 1912, and going out of business in 1915. The founder, Aaron B. Mergentheim (1869-1941), was born in New York, but appeared in the U. S. Census of 1880 as the 16-year-old son of Bernhard and Babette Mergentheim (recorded as Bennett and Barbett), living on Indiana Ave. in Chicago, Ill. Bernhard Mergentheim was an immigrant from Germany and gave his occupation as "Wholesale Leather Dealer." In the U. S. Census of 1900 Aaron was 36 years old and still lived in Chicago with his parents. "Bennett" Mergentheim was now called Bernard and gave his occupation as "Capitalist." Aaron was married and had two sons, Charles and Bernard. Aaron Mergentheim first appeared in New York City listings in 1904, and opened his business around 1909. In the 1910 U. S. Census Aaron Mergentheim gave his profession as "Manufacturer Dresses." In the same census Aaron's son, Charles B. Mergentheim (1891-1975), was listed as "Clerk Dresses," which probably means he was already working in his father's business. After closing his clothing business, Aaron Mergentheim worked as sales manager and representative for several firms, then became a life insurance broker. Meanwhile, Charles Mergentheim had his own career as a steamship agent, a stock broker and an executive with the I. B. Kleinert Rubber Co. (This ad for the I. B. Kleinert Rubber Co. appeared in The Clothiers' and Haberdashers' Weekly, 17 November 1899.) In 1914 Charles Mergentheim married Marguerite Straus, the daughter of Max Straus (1865-1929). Max Straus is described in his obituary in the New York Times (9 Aug. 1929, p. 11) as "president of the Baltic American Line of steamers." The obituary goes on to say, "He had also been interested in the stock brokerage concerns of Straus & Co. and A. E. Johnson & Co." Charles Mergentheim was also involved in these companies. A. E. Johnson & Co. (Alexander E. Johnson, pres.) were steamship agents. Straus & Co. were stock brokers (known as Mergentime & Straus from 1919 to 1920). For almost 10 years (1926-1934) Charles Mergentheim lived at 285 Central Park West (corner of 89th St.), which was also the residence of Ralph K. Guinzburg, president of Kleinert Rubber Co. Charles Mergentheim was an executive at Kleinert Rubber (rubber-based products such as shower caps, disposable diapers, garment shields) from around 1930 to the mid-1960s. Aaron Mergentheim's other son, Bernard C. Mergentheim (1898-1986), seems to have had a somewhat less varied career, maintaining a stock brokerage at 120 Broadway 30-some years from around 1940 to 1973. Both Mergentheim sons changed the spelling of the family name to Mergentime, Charles as early as 1918, and Bernard around 1933.
Edward B / Goodman / & Co Inc (click for detail) : Edward B. Goodman (1859-1933) was born in Virginia, July, 1859, and died in Kew Gardens, Queens, July, 1933. He appears in the U. S. Census of 1880 as a dry goods clerk, boarding at 308 W. 14th St. in New York. He began his "flowers and feathers" business around 1883 on lower Broadway near Houston St. In Dec. 1913 a letter appeared in the New York Times with Goodman's signature. The letter was written in reply to an earlier comment in the Times "decrying the use of artificial flowers for home decoration and upon wearing apparel." In his defense of the practice, Goodman does not mention that he was in the business of selling artificial flowers for just such use. The business seems to have failed around 1918. In the U. S. Census of 1920, Goodman was living in Brookline, Mass. and gives his occupation as "millinery manager." He returned to New York later in the 1920s and worked as a representative for Sakura Silk of Kane, Pennsylvania. Edward B. Goodman & Co. was located here at 14 E. 32nd St. from 1912 to 1916.
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