The top line on this sign is pretty much unreadable, but 351 West Broadway near Broome St. was home to Joseph Libmann & Co. from approximately 1886 to 1906. The company made paper stock from cotton and linen rags. Apparently before the now widespread use of wood pulp to manufacture paper, the leftover remnants of cotton and linen (rags) were a major source of pulp for paper. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paper_machine.)
The founder of Joseph Libmann & Co. was Joseph Libmann (1840-1913), an immigrant from Austria in the early 1860s. He is found in Trow's New York City Directory for 1877 in partnership with Daniel Kornblum (1848-1927) as Libmann & Kornblum, paper, at 3 Howard St. This partnership lasted only two years, and Joseph Libmann & Co., paper, is found at 3 Howard St. in 1880. The business moved to 178 Centre St. in 1882 and then to 351 W. Broadway in 1886. The address in 1886 was 158 S. 5th Ave. South Fifth Avenue was renamed West Broadway in 1896, and buildings were renumbered (South Fifth Avenue had numbers that ran north to south).
On Joseph Libmann's death in 1915 the following appeared in The Waste Trade Journal, vol. XV, no. 9, 1 July 1915, pg. 21, "Joseph Libmann, a pioneer packer of new cotton cuttings, etc., of New York City died last week, aged seventy-three years. Mr. Libmann was senior member of the firm of Joseph Libmann, packers of rag stocks, at 466 Washington street, New York. For the past few years he had not been in active connection."
Joseph Libmann's son, Lucian L. Libmann (1866-1915) was also a member of Joseph Libmann & Co. Lucian Libmann, however, died a young man and survived his father by only a few years. From 1915 forward the business was continued by two other partners, Marcus M. Mintzer (ca.1858-1917) and Samuel Fernbacher (1864-1921).
Marcus M. Mintzer was the son of Adolph Mintzer (1837-1900), another early partner of Joseph Libmann. He was an immigrant from Austria in 1853 and became a naturalized U. S. citizen 12 Sept. 1860 when he lived at 161 1/2 Greenwich St. He appears in the 1865 New York State Census living in Brooklyn when his son, Marquis, was seven years old. Adolph Mintzer was listed as a partner with Joseph Libmann at 3 Howard St. in 1880.
Samuel Fernbacher married Joseph Libmann's daughter, Dora, 20 July 1887. Samuel Fernbacher died a suicide in spectacular fashion. As recounted in the New York Times, 8 June 1921, pg. 5, "The police search for Samuel G. Fernbacher of 41 West Eighty-second Street, ended yesterday when detectives from the Charles Street Station found his body at the bottom of a thirty-foot tank on the roof of 22 Jones Street, in which his office was located. It was necessary to empty 10,000 gallons of water before the body was recovered. His right wrist had been slashed and there was a deep cut across his throat. Every evidence, the police said, pointed to suicide. Reconstructing the scene they figured that the missing man must have slashed his wrist on the fifth floor, climbed the narrow stairs to the roof, scaled the fifty-foot ladder at the side of the tank and then, cutting his throat, have fallen into the tank. Fernbacher was 75 years old and head of the firm of Samuel Fernbacher & Co., dealers in rags and other paper-making supplies. ... The search began at the Jones Street building. The firm occupies the entire place. The offices are on the second floor. ... Neither Mrs. Fernbacher nor Mr. Pursch, his brother-in-law, would discuss the death. They said Mr. Fernbacher had no financial troubles and the police said they could assign no motive for his act. It was said, however, that he had been in the care of a physician."
Copyright © 2017 Walter Grutchfield