The Liebes Family
Values Codes I-E-L-P
The Fur Trade
Herman Liebes established himself as an importer and manufacturer of furs in San Francisco in 1864.
His place of business was at 113 Montgomery Street.
By 1887 the Liebes firm had entered the Aleutian Islands to engage in the fur trade.
By 1890, Herman’s son Isaac Liebes had formed the North American Commercial Company.
His company successfully outbid the Alaska Commercial Company for the Pribilof Islands’ seal concession, which was controlled by the Secretary of the Treasury.
The principals of the Alaska Commercial Company were the famed Louis Sloss and Lewis Gerstle of San Francisco, who had operated the seal concession for twenty years, from 1870 to 1890.
The Liebes family was backed by the Rothschild interests of London in their successful bid for the seals of the islands near Alaska.
The 1870 seal concession called for an annual fee of $55,000 and $2.62-1/2 per seal skin, to be paid to the U.S. Treasury.
The 1890 agreement which the Liebes firm signed required an annual fee of $60,000 and $9.62 per skin.
When the Liebes group took control in 1890, they purchased all the facilities on the islands from their predecessor.
The front cover of the 1898-1899 Liebes catalogue carried the statement: “Indisputably the largest dealers in sealskins in the world. Prices from 25 to 40 per cent below the figures of any other house for similar goods.”
Also noted were the “Beautiful effects in marten, sable, mink, Persian lamb and in furs of all kinds.”
Community & Fraternal
Herman Liebes was active in the Pacific Lodge No. 48 of B’nai B’rith and Congregation Sherith Israel. He served as a trustee of Sherith Israel from 1878 to 1881.
Isaac Liebes was an active member of Congregation Emanu-El by the turn of the century, and the President of the family company.
More information can be found in the following issue of Western States Jewish History:
- The Liebes Company: Importers and Manufacturers of Fur Products, San Francisco, California & Alaska,, Dr. Norton Stern, 45/3
Photo Gallery [New photos always welcome]
Thank you to Sidney Liebes for the pictures of Herman Liebes and the Company Catalogue.