F. Konig and Company, Records, 1790-1872, MS 522

F. Konig and Company Records, 1790-1872
Maryland Historical Society
 
  

(Text converted and initial EAD tagging provided by Apex Data Services, March 1999.)
 

F. Konig and Company Records, 1790-1872
Maryland Historical Society

Contact Information:
Manuscripts Department
Maryland Historical Society Library
201 West Monument Street
Baltimore MD 21201-4674
410.685.3750
Fax: 410.385.2105
library@mdhs.org
www.mdhs.org



Descriptive Summary

F. Konig and Company Records, 1790-1872

MS 522

Maryland Historical Society

Baltimore MD 21201-4674

 


Biographical Sketch

Frederick Konig was born in Hannover, Germany in 1771 and came to Maryland with his family in the late 1780's. It is believed that Frederick's father August Konig originally started the business and upon his death the firm was taken over by Frederick and his brother Henry in 1790. Henry remained in the firm until 1818 and after this date there is no information on his whereabouts.

From 1818 until 1850 the business was known as F. Konig and Co. After 1850 Konig's nephew Charles F. Mayer [UNK] the business and up to 1853 it is referred to as Mayer and Konig. Frederick dealt in many types of articles but is listed in the Baltimore City Directories as being an importer of German and fancy goods with his place of business being located at 4 North Howard Street. To be more specific, he provided merchandise which could only be afforded by the upper classes of society. Items such as ivory combs, violins, tableware and toys could be purchased at Konig's shop and his correspondence and financial records from 1821-1844 indicate that he was doing a very profitable business.

In December of 1802, Konig married Anna Mayer the daughter of a very prominent and influential man in the City of Baltimore. Anna's brother was Brantz Mayer who would later found and become the second President of the Maryland Historical Society. The Konigs had no children but over the years cared for a number of nieces and nephews of Anna's family.

One of the nephews in their charge was Charles F. Mayer who worked as a clerk in his uncle's firm while still a young boy. He would eventually take over the business when Konig died in 1853 and rename it Mayer and Brother. This firm operated until 1872 when Charles started another business which was engaged in the mining and

shipping of coal.

Aside from his livelihood as a businessman, Frederick Konig was also interested in the fields of natural history and science. Box nine of MS. 522 contains a number of scientific papers (c. 1842) that express his interest in a written form.

On August 14, 1853 Frederick Konig died at the home of his nephew Charles Mayer. Two days later a memorial tribute appears in the Baltimore American describing Konig as a well-liked and well-rounded individual. Besides this, Frederick Konig was one of the last of an occupation that would be non-existant by the end of the nineteenth century -- the independent merchant.

 


Scope and Content Note

The primary focus of the Konig Papers concerns itself with the business of a local merchant during the growing years of the American republic. From the materials within this collection a descriptive and informative view of an independent merchant is provided.

The collection is organized as follows: Containers 1-9 hold personal and business correspondence which is arranged alphabetically and chronologically. Containers 10-16 are the business records of the firm and these are arranged by month and year. The correspondence section ranges 1790-1872 while the business records span 1798-1853. Bulk dates for both sections are 1821-1844, the most profitable years of Konig's business.

It should be noted here that there was a collection known as MS. 522.1. Comprised of two boxes, the first held Konig correspondence for the time when Henry Konig was connected with his brother's firm and it also continued up to 1851. In addition there were also a number of business records spanning 1810-1850. These materials were placed in the appropriate containers of MS. 522. For more information see the Container List at the end of this inventory. Organization of these business records and correspondence follows the same pattern as noted above.

In the second box of MS. 522.1 a large number of financial records and related correspondence was discovered. These documents were those of Charles Starcke and the firm of Wessels and Primavesi, a mercantile business in Baltimore from 1800 to 1806. The materials related to Charles Starcke were removed and placed in Container 3 of MS. 780 -- Charles Starcke Papers. The Wessels and Primavesi documents were placed in Containers IX-XIV of MS. 1010 -- Wessels and Primavesi Papers.

The Konig Papers possess a considerable number of gaps in the both sections of the documents. There are no documents for the following years: 1791-1796, 1823-1825, 1833, 1838, 1841, 1846-1847.

The contents of this collection can be divided into two groups:

 

Correspondence -- Business/ Personal

 

Business records and related materials

 

The business correspondence is largely from firms within and outside of the United States which dealt with Konig during the active years of his business. Correspondents here include: David Arts (Hagerstown, Maryland), W.P. Baum (Pittsburgh), James [UNK] (Washington, D.C.), A.F. Dellinger (Cinncinati, Ohio), E and S Frey (Baltimore), D.F. Kalkman (Bremen, Germany), Marshes and Shepard (Sheffield, England), James Mellor (Wheeling, West Virginia), J.W. Seidel (Fuerth, Germany), and Wolff and Hoppe (St. Louis, Missouri).

The nature of this correspondence is mainly for the purchase of goods which Konig offered for sale. A sample of these goods would be as follows: ivory combs, violins and violin accessories, harmonicas, tableware and cutlery, children's toys and numerous other articles which were referred to as fancy goods. With the exception of Marshes and Shepard, D.F. Kalkman and Sons, and J.W. Seidel the firms listed above were all buyers of Konig's goods. The three firms mentioned directly above were ones from which Konig purchased his materials. A more detailed explanation of the firms and the bulk dates for their correspondence will be found in the Series Description.

The second section of the correspondence is made up of a small amount of personal letters from members of the merchant's family. Individuals writing to Konig were: Frederick Benhring (nephew -- Maple Grove, Virginia, fl. 1821-1840), Sophia Kearney

(Konig's sister -- New York, c. 1839), Brantz Mayer (brother-in-law, Baltimore, fl. 1839, 1844), Charles F. Mayer (Nephew, Baltimore, fl. 1839-53). (The above dates are for years of correspondence only.) Added personal correspondence is found in Container 1 of MS. 522. In this container the incoming letters to Charles F. Mayer are found. Mayer's only correspondence is from his cousin and future wife Susan Keim of Reading, Pennsylvania. The letters of Susan Keim are of a highly personal nature. The nature of the other family correspondence is of a monetary nature (i.e. Konig's relatives falling upon hard times). Further studies of family correspondents [UNK] located in the Series Description.

The second group of the collection is the business records of the firm. The contents here are mainly domestic and foreign invoices, shipping, bonds, receipts, and other related materials. The purpose behind these financial documents is to establish a [UNK] record of Konig's profits and losses from 1790 to 1853. These records play an important part towards a better understanding of the manner in which a small business operated during this time and serve as a good indicator for the economic fluctuations of the period.

Using the correspondence and the business records as a whole enables an individual to obtain a full picture of the inner and outer workings of the business community and foreign trade in the United States during the late eighteenth and early middle nineteenth centuries. This is the main scope behind the Konig Papers spanning nearly seventy years and covering a business from beginning to end. The Konig Collection is one of the most complete records on the subject of a small business during this time-period.

 


Series Description

Frederick Konig -- Incoming Letters, span dates 1790-1853, bulk dates 1821-1844. 9 boxes. Arrangement -- Alphabetical and chronological.

The incoming correspondence of the Konig Papers can be divided into two categories:

 

(1) Business-related

 

and (2) Personal/family letters

 

The first category is handwritten documents from other businessmen with whom Konig dealt. Most of the time it is orders for goods which have been attached to the letters. The people and firms that dealt with Konig are as follows:

 

W.P. Baum (Pittsburgh, fl. 1821-1844)

 

James Causten (Washington, D.C. fl. 1831-1874)

 

A.F. Dellinger (Cinncinatti, fl. 1821-1844)

 

George Fischer (Frederick, Maryland fl. 1840-1844)

 

E. and S. Frey (Baltimore, fl. 1840-1844)

 

Ed Frith (Philadelphia, 1842-1844)

 

D.F. Kalkman (Bremen, Germany fl. 1830-1840)

 

Charles and Louis [UNK] (Bremen, fl. 1840-1851)

 

Marshes and Shepard (Sheffield, England fl. 1831-1844)

 

James Mellor (Wheeling, West Virginia fl. 1839-1844)

 

and Wolff and Hoppe (St. Louis, Missouri fl. 1839-1850)

 

The primary nature of the business correspondence is the placement of orders for articles which Konig provided. Most of the individuals and firms above ordered doll heads, violins, violin strings, fine tableware and tabelware cutlery, ivory combs and harmonicas. The letters here not only show how a small business operated but also the dependence of the American merchant upon foreign goods for sale to the public.

The most interesting letters of the business correspondence are those from James Causten. Causten was a lobbyist in Washington, D.C. from Baltimore who fought for a monetary compensation of the French Spoilation Claims. Konig was one of many Baltimore merchants who had suffered a large amount of losses during the Undeclared Naval War of 1796 with the French. As a result, Frederick Konig was interested in obtaining a financial settlement for the losses incurred upon him by the French. Causten's

correspondence consists mainly of progress reports to Konig and other Baltimore merchants of his attempts to get them compensation. As late as 1874 he was still lobbying for a settlement of the French Spoilation Claims. With Causten's death in 1874 the claims remained unsettled.

The second section of the correspondence contains handwritten letters from members of Konig's family. The list of correspondents include:

 

Frederick Benhring (Nephew, fl. 1821-1840)

 

Sophia Kearney (Sister, fl. 1839_

 

Brantz Mayer (Brother-in-law, fl. 1839-1844)

 

and Charles F. Mayer (Nephew, fl. 1839-1872)

 

The sole nature of these letters is monetary. Most of Konig's relatives are always asking him for personal loans or money for payment of Bank notes. The correspondence of Frederick Benhring, Charles F. Mayer, and Sophia Kearney best illustrate the above.

Along with requests for financial assistance, the correspondence does contain a small amount of family news. Frederick Benhring's letters are the best examples concerning this subject. Family births, deaths, and marriages are discussed here along with some political opinions of the time.

Additional personal correspondence includes the letters of Susan D. Keim to Charles F. Mayer in Container Number One. Susan Keim was the cousin and future wife of Charles Mayer and the letters discuss her personal feelings for him. The Keim correspondence also contains some information on the Keim, Mayer and other related families in Pennsylvania. The correspondence spans 1856-1863.

BOXES 1 - 9

Frederick Konig - Business Records. Span dates 1790-1853, bulk dates 1821-1844.

6 boxes. Arrangement: Chronological.

The business records of the Konig Collection are a complete look at all aspects of foreign and domestic trade during the late eighteenth and mid-nineteenth centuries. Included in these documents are Bills of Lading (some in German and French), shipping bonds, domestic and foreign invoices, receipts, bills and other related financial materials. Most of the records are from the firms listed previously as business correspondents. Besides being reflective of the trade aspects for the period, the financial materials also show Konig's profits and losses for each year. Using these one can get an excellent idea of the extent and volume of Konig's company.

In addition to this, the Bills of Lading and shipping bonds contain the names of the vessels and these can be used as an aid in establishing the whereabouts of vessels coming into the Port of Baltimore during this time period.

BOXES 10 - 16

The correspondence and business records of the Konig Papers serve not only as documents to better understand the time period but also are reflective of the man who kept them --Frederick Konig.

 

INTRODUCTION

The Frederick Konig Papers (MS. 522) span the years 1790-1872 while the bulk dates are 1821-1844. The Konig Collection comprises a full sixteen boxes with Containers 1-9 holding the business and personal correspondence and Containers 11-16 holding the business records of Konig's firm.

The materials in the collection are concerned with the business and personal life of Frederick Konig, a prominent Baltimore merchant and importer of domestic and foreign goods from 1790 until his death in 1853. They are in their original arrangement.

The collection was a gift from Hamilton Gale of Annapolis, Maryland in 1956. Literary rights are available for the Konig Papers and the contents are unrestricted.

 


Container List

 

CONTAINER LIST -- KONIG PAPERS MS. 522

 

1

William Campbell Hamilton

 

 

corr. - James Hamilton to William C. Hamilton 1835

 

 

 

corr. - Walter Davidge to William C. Hamilton 1812

 

 

 

corr. - Hamilton to Walter Davidge 1843

 

 

 

corr. - Daveridge to Hamilton 1844

 

 

 

corr. - George [?] to William C. Hamilton 1846 Land Deeds 1847

 

 

 

corr. - Jacob Happersett to William C. Hamilton 1843

 

 

 

correspondence - [UNK]

 

 

 

corr. - Letters of Introduction addressed to James Buchanan for Hamilton from George Keim (Reading, Pennsylvania) and William Hister 1855-1860

 

 

 

correspondence - Various n.d.

 

 

 

James Bauer and William H. Bauer - Legal Documents 1847-1849

 

 

 

William H. Geise Estate 1850-1851

 

 

 

Precedents and legal forms n.d.

 

 

 

Deeds and contracts 1850

 

 

 

Corr. - Letters to Mrs. Mary Hamilton 1843-1844

 

 

 

 

Charles Frederick Mayer

 

 

corr. - Susan Keim to Charles Mayer 1858-1863, n.d.

 

 

 

Hamilton/ Mayer Family Poetry n.d.

 

 

 

Newspaper clippings 1840, 1843

 

 

 

 

1A

Frederick Konig - Correspondence 1790-1820

 

 

2

Correspondence - miscellaneous [UNK]-1823

 

 

 

corr. - A - F 1821

 

 

 

corr. - A - Z 1822

 

 

 

 

3

F. Konig - Correspondence 1828-1829

 

 

Correspondence - miscellaneous 1828

 

 

 

Correspondence - miscellaneous 1829

 

 

 

 

4

F. Konig - Correspondence 1830-1831

 

 

Corr. - F - M 1830

 

 

 

corr. - miscellaneous 1830

 

 

 

corr. - A - S 1831

 

 

 

 

5

F. Konig - Correspondence 1831-1839

 

 

corr. - miscellaneous 1831

 

 

 

corr. - G - I 1834

 

 

 

corr. - miscellaneous 1834

 

 

 

corr. - William Hoppe to F. Konig 1835

 

 

 

correspondence - miscellaneous 1836

 

 

 

correspondence - miscellaneous 1837

 

 

 

corr. - A - C 1839

 

 

 

 

6

F. Konig - Correspondence 1839-1840

 

 

corr. - D.F. Kalkman to F. Konig 1839

 

 

 

corr. - K - Z 1839

 

 

 

corr. - A - C 1840

 

 

 

 

7

F. Konig - Correspondence 1840-1842

 

 

corr. - D - Y 1840

 

 

 

corr. - A - C 1842

 

 

 

 

8

F. Konig - Correspondence 1842-1844

 

 

corr. - D - S 1842

 

 

 

corr. - miscellaneous 1843

 

 

 

corr. - A - R 1844

 

 

 

 

9

F. Konig - Correspondence 1844-1853, n.d.

 

 

 

Business Records 1798-1819

 

 

corr. - G - S 1844

 

 

 

corr. - miscellaneous 1844

 

 

Scientific Writings 1842

 

 

 

 

corr. - miscellaneous 1849

 

 

 

corr. - miscellaneous 1850

 

 

 

corr. - miscellaneous 1851

 

 

 

corr. - miscellaneous 1852

 

 

 

corr. - miscellaneous n.d.

 

 

 

Calling cards to F. Konig (In German) n.d.

 

 

 

corr. - Letters to Mayer and Brother 1856-1872

 

 

 

Lithographs of Gunther Family 1803

 

 

Business Records 1798-1819

 

 

 

Business [UNK] - F. Konig Account Book 1798-1799

 

 

 

Business Records - F. Konig Account Book 1800

 

 

 

Business Records - Miscellaneous 1800-1803

 

 

 

Business Records - Miscellaneous 1805

 

 

 

Business Records - Miscellaneous 1806-1811

 

 

 

Business Records - Miscellaneous 1817-1819

 

 

 

 

 

10

Frederick Konig - Business Records 1820-1826

 

 

Business Records - Miscellaneous 1820-1821

 

 

 

Business Records - Miscellaneous

 

 

 

Business Records - Account Sales - Jan.-March 1826

 

 

 

Business Records - Miscellaneous - Jan.-March 1826

 

 

 

Business Records - Miscellaneous - Jan.-May 1826

 

 

 

Business Records - Miscellaneous - June-Dec. 1826

 

 

 

 

11

F. Konig - Business Reocrds 1828-1829

 

 

Business Records - Miscellaneous 1828

 

 

 

Business Records - Miscellaneous 1829

 

 

 

 

12

F. Konig - Business Records 1830-1833

 

 

Business Records - Miscellaneous 1830

 

 

 

Business Records - Miscellaneous 1831

 

 

 

Business Records - Miscellaneous 1833

 

 

 

 

13

F. Konig - Business Records 1833-1836

 

 

Business Records - Miscellaneous 1833

 

 

 

Business Records - Miscellaneous 1834

 

 

 

Business Records - Miscellaneous 1835

 

 

 

Business Record - Miscellaneous 1836

 

 

 

 

14

F. Konig - Business Records 1836-1839

 

 

Business Records - Miscellaneous 1836

 

 

 

Business Records - Miscellaneous 1838

 

 

 

Business Records - Jan.-May 1839

 

 

 

Business Records - June-Dec. 1839

 

 

 

Business Records - Miscellaneous Charges 1839

 

 

 

 

15

F. Konig - Business Records 1840-1842

 

 

Business Records - Jan.-May 1840

 

 

 

Business Records - June-Dec. 1840

 

 

 

Domestic invoices 1840

 

 

 

Custom House and Foreign Invoices 1840

 

 

 

Business Records - Miscellaneous 1841

 

 

 

Business Records - Miscellaneous 1842

 

 

 

Business Records - Jan.-June 1842

 

 

 

 

16

F. Konig - Business Records 1842-1853

 

 

Business Records - July-Dec. 1842

 

 

 

Domestic and Foreign Invoices 1842

 

 

 

Business Records - Miscellaneous 1843

 

 

 

Business Records - Miscellaneous 1844

 

 

 

Business Records - Miscellaneous 1845

 

 

 

Personal Checks of Frederick Konig drawn on Western Bank 1850-1851

 

 

 

Business Records - Miscellaneous 1852

 

 

 

Business Records - Miscellaneous 1853

 

 

 

 

MS. 522 CROSS REFERENCES

 

Causten, James fl. 1831-1874 (pp. 5, 7-8)

 

 

 

Foreign Trade, 19th Century (pp. 6, 7, 9)

 

 

 

Hamilton, William Campbell (p. 10)

 

 

 

Konig, Frederick 1772-1853

 

 

 

Konig, Henry fl. 1790-1818 (pp. 2, 4)

 

 

 

Law practice, 1800-1849 - Maryland (p. 10)

 

 

 

Law - Study of - 1840's (p. 10)

 

 

 

Mayer, Brantz 1809-1879 (pp. 2, 6, 8)

 

 

 

Mayer, Charles F. 1832-1904 (pp. 2-3, 6, 8, 10, 11)

 

 

 

Mayer, Susan [Keim] fl. 1858-1866 (pp. 6, 8, 10)

 

 

 

Reading, Pennsylvania (p. 8)

 

 

 

Baltimore, Maryland - Merchants - 19th Century (p. 4, 5)

 

 

 

 

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