The Gumps: From Picture Frames to San Francisco’s Most Exclusive Store

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Solomon and Gustave Gump, Founders of Gump’s

Abraham Livingston Gump, Richard Gump, Robert Gump – The Second & Third Generation

Family Values Codes   I – H – E – L -P

Solomon Gump

Solomon Gump, Founder of Gump's of San Francisco, #WS2247

Solomon Gump, Founder of Gump’s of San Francisco,
#WS2247

Solomon Gump was born in 1833 in Heidelberg, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany.  His father was a textile manufacturer.

Although the family was from Germany, research points to them being of Sephardic origin.

Along the way …

In 1850, Solomon Gump came to the United States with his brother, Gustave Gump.

They entered the country in New York, then journeyed to Florida.

For about ten years, Solomon and Gustave Gump worked in the dry goods industry in Apalachicola, Florida.

In the early 1860’s, Solomon Gump caught the Gold Fever and journeyed west to California.

He joined David Hausmann, his brother-in-law, who was married to Solomon’s sister, Gertrude, in a gold frame and mirror shop in San Francisco that the latter founded in 1861 and called David Hausmann & Company.

In 1864, Solomon Gump bought the successful shop from Hausmann. 

He specialized in gilding ornate wooden picture frames in gold so that the newly minted millionaires could show off their paintings.

Gump also specialized in giant Gold guilded mirrors for the rowdy saloons of San Francisco, where constant bar brawls gave him a great source of repeat business.

 

Gustave Gump came to San Francisco in 1864.

He married Fannie Hoffman and worked as a clerk in the clothing business.

In 1871, Gustave joined his brother Solomon in the family store, which they renamed S & G Gump: Mirrors, Mouldings, and Paintings.

The Gump brothers’ store now offered elaborate gold accent pieces for the wealthy homeowners in Nob Hill and Van Ness Avenue to show off their extravagance.

Gumps logoEventually, the Gump Brothers started the first art gallery in San Francisco.  They brought paintings from Europe to fill their gilded frames that they sold to fill the wealthy San Franciscans’ homes.

During the 1880s, Solomon and Gustave Gump traveled between Europe and San Francisco, bringing ever larger assortments of object d’art for their  clients.

The now famous Gump’s store began its life at 535 Clay Street.

In 1872, it moved to 119 Sansome Street.  In 1976, it relocated to Market Street and, in 1892, to Geary Street.

Gump's & Family, c1890's

Gump’s & Family, circa 1890’s

 

The store has been at 250 Post Street since the early twentieth century.

Lafayette Gump purchased the entire half block of Post Street after the 1906 earthquake-fire.

Fraternal

Solomon and Gustave Gump were members of the Masons and the Ancient Order of United Workers.

Community

Solomon Gump and his family were members of Temple Emanu-El, the oldest synagogue west of the Mississippi, and attended on special occasions, though they were not observant.

Family

Solomon Gump married Louisa Livingston (b. 1843) in 1860 and brought her and their three children to San Francisco once his business was established.

All together, they had eight children: Henrietta, Isabella, Lafayette, Alfred S., Sigmund, Abraham Livingston, Goldina, and William Edgar.

Goldina Gump married the head of the San Francisco Stock Exchange.

Abraham Livingston Gump (aka A.L.), the fourth son, learned about art and taste from visits to wealthy people’s homes with his father.

 

Solomon Gump died in San Francisco, California in 1908.

Gustave Gump died in San Francisco in 1898.

Gump's Golden Buddha, Said to be the Only Item Not for Sale in the Store.

Gump’s Golden Buddha, Said to be the Only Item “Not for Sale” in the Store.

Second & Third Generation

Abraham Livingston Gump (aka A.L. Gump)

A.L. Gump was born in 1869 in San Francisco, California.

In 1880, at the age of eleven, A.L. Gump began to lose his eyesight – yet he became one of the great art buyers of America, even with his minimal vision.

After the 1906 San Francisco earthquake/fire, A. L. Gump needed to raise funds to rebuild the destroyed store.  Luckily, Dodie Valencia,  a wealthy art collector, offered A. L. $17,000 for one of his paintings.

A.L. rebuilt Gump’s in 1906 at 250 Post Street.  The architect was Clinton Day.

Once the store was rebuilt, A. L. added new merchandise offerings. Due to his fondness for Chinese art as a child, he began to sell more categories of Oriental art and furnishings at the store, being the first to offer rare and valuable jade artifacts.

Family

A. L. Gump married Mabel Beatrice Lichtenstein in 1902. Mabel was a successful stage actress who spoke four languages. Despite A.L.’s protests, she continued to build her career on the stage, often traveling with her daughter Marcella.

A.L. Gump & Mabel Livingston Wedding Announcement

A.L. Gump & Mabel Livingston Wedding Announcement

A.L. and Mabel Gump had three children: Richard, Robert and Marcella.

Mabel Gumb and Children, San Francisco

Mabel Gumb and Children, San Francisco

Richard Gump took over the store’s management after his father’s death.

Mabel Gump and her son, Robert, traveled to the Far East in 1922.  When a revolution broke out in China, they quickly journeyed to Japan. Mabel returned to San Francisco with the Haori coats that became fashionable in the 1920s.

Civic

A.L. Gump donated two Gobelin tapestries to the San Francisco War Memorial Opera House.  The tapestries were previously owned by Archduke Franz Ferdinand.

A .L. Gump died in 1947.

 

Richard Benjamin Gump

Richard Gump was born in 1906 in San Francisco, California.

Among his many jobs, Richard Gump worked as an artist on the Walt Disney production of Bambi, was a designer for Metro Goldwyn Mayer and designed the store’s flatware, jewelry and linens.

He was also an artist who painted, composed music and wrote two books, Jade: Stone of the Heaven and Good Taste Costs No More, published in 1951.

Richard led Gump’s interior design department toward higher standards by personally teaching staff members about art appreciation. He promoted California artists. He especially was devoted to sharing taste and style saying that, “You can’t afford an ugly thing at any price.”

The Gump’s store motto became, “Good taste costs no more.”

Richard Gump remained President of Gump’s until his retirement in 1975. He stayed on even after he had sold the business in 1969.

Civic

In 1949, Richard Gump helped found the Guckenheimer Sour Kraut Band, a group of amateur musicians and businessmen.  They played humorous polka music.  They performed at the opening night party at the San Francisco Opera. Gump was the conductor and also played clarinet in the band.

In 1981, Richard Gump donated the family property on Moorea Island in the South Pacific to the University of California, Berkeley for the Richard B. Gump South Pacific Research Station, an ecological and biological research center.

Family

Richard Gump married four times to: (1) Frances Bromberg, (2) Hela Lenya, (3) Libby Danysh and (4) Agnes Mirie Fraser.

He had one son, Peter, with his first wife, Frances.

Richard Gump died in 1989 in Paris.

 

Robert Gump

Robert Gump was born in 1903 in San Francisco, California.

Robert Gump married Frances Widney in 1926. They had two children: Suzanne and Marilyn.

 

In 1937, Robert and Frances divorced. Robert then married Catherine Todd, leaving Gumps, and had one daughter, Antoinette.

Some years later, after a brief remarriage to Sally Stanford the celebrated madam for the League of Nations and later Mayor of Sausalito, Robert Gump retired to Southern California and Mexico to spend his life writing.

 

Robert Gump is the author of Chinese Rugs, A Monograph and You are the Rose, You are the Rock,which became a cult favorite in the 1960’s.

 

Robert Gump died in 1981.

 

Marcella Gump, was a much decorated World War II nurse.

As Commander of her medical unit, she landed at Malta with the Army.

She was married three times, to Jules ____ (City of Paris Department Store heir), Llewellen Phillips, whose father was a member of British peerage and his mother was a member of the royal family of Tahiti, and lastly Lynn Curley, a San Francisco talk show host.

Postscript

Gump’s eventually had branches in Hawaii, Los Angeles, and Carmel.

These were eventually sold to settle Federal and/or State Estate Taxes.

Large retail stores required heavy cash availability.

Twentieth Century Estate Taxes took away that and more, so many multi-generational Jewish department stores were sold before the current generation passed away – paying only the lower Capital Gains tax rather than the much higher Estate Tax.

 

Sources

    • Roseman, Janet Lynn. Gump’s Since 1861: A San Francisco Legend. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1991.
    • The Bay of San Francisco: The Metropolis of the Pacific Coast and its Suburban Cities: a History.  Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, 1892. (p. 339-340)
    • Wilson, Carol Green. Gump’s Treasure Trade. New York: Thomas Crowell Company, 1949.
    • Starr. Golden Dreams: California in the Age of Abundance
    • Harris, Leon. Merchant Princes
    • Lebod & Howe. We live there too
    • Rosemund, Birmingham, Sekei. Gumps: Since 1961, A San Francisco Legend
    • Interviews with R.B. Gump at UC Berkeley Bancroft Library
    • Life Magazine, May 7th, 1951

 

Feel free to “Like” this Exhibit of Facebook.

Note: To enlarge any photo, click on the middle of it.

Samantha Silver is Curator of this Gump Family Exhibit, with important help from Antoinette Amorteguy of the Gump family.

Other

  Jews in the Jews

    About this time

Kosher Meat in San Francisco — 1851

To the Israelites of San Francisco — Notice is hereby given that we, the undersigned, have made an arrangement with the butcher Mr. Joseph Begin, 76 Kearny Street, between Commercial and Sacramento, who will supply the Israelites of this place with the finest quality of Kosher beef, veal and mutton, which will be killed in the presence of Mr. Blankenstein and others by a competent and qualified Shochet, according to the Mosaic laws.

  A. Weiss      I. S. Lincoln      M. S. Blankenstein      I. Solomon

  T. Frankel      Barnett Keesing      J. Raphael & Co.      Philip Mann

 

— Daily Alta California, San Francisco, April 10, 1851, WSJH, Vol. 4, #3. Most of the individuals who signed this notice became prominent members of Congregation Sherith Israel, the pioneer synagogue of the Polish and English Jews of San Francisco.

 

 

See our Exhibits of other famous Jewish Department Stores of the Wild West

Multi-Generational Jewish Department Stores of the West

Neiman-Marcus of Dallas, Texas

Hamburger’s Department Store of Los Angeles, California

Gump’s of San Francisco, California

Meier & Frank of Portland, Oregon

Auerbach’s of Salt Lake City, Utah

Goldwater’s of Phoenix, Arizona

May Co. of St. Louis, Missouri

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