Solomon Karpen (1858-1936)

Solomon Karpen founded S. Karpen & Bros. in Chicago in 1880. By 1899, it had become the largest upholstered furniture manufacturing company in the world.

Updated: February 06, 2014

Introduction

Solomon Karpen (born January 7, 1858, in Wongrowitz, West Prussia [now Wągrowiec, Poland]; died October 24, 1936, in Chicago), the eldest of nine brothers, founded S. Karpen & Bros. in Chicago in 1880. By 1899, it had become the largest upholstered furniture manufacturing company in the world. Among other factors, the company’s success was attributable to its emphasis on Old World craftsmanship and its utilization of forward-thinking marketing strategies. At the turn of the twentieth century, S. Karpen & Bros. became the first upholstered furniture manufacturer to advertise in national mass market (as opposed to trade) magazines and journals. It also made history by affixing the innovative “S. Karpen & Bros.” tag, which carried with it the Karpen guarantee, to every piece it manufactured. A German-Jewish immigrant, Solomon Karpen became a preeminent leader in the American furniture industry and a multimillionaire. His company spanned all America and continued until 1951.

Family and Ethnic Background

Solomon Karpen was born in Wongrowitz, in the Province of West Prussia (now Wągrowiec, Poland) on January 7, 1858. Located approximately 35 miles north of Posen (now Poznań, Poland), the town of Wongrowitz was predominantly Catholic. In 1861, the town’s 3,354 inhabitants included 1,930 Catholics, 761 Protestants, and 663 Jews.[1] In terms of nationality, 1,748 inhabitants were listed as Poles, 943 as Germans, and 663 as Jews.[2] Several other towns in the region also had large Jewish communities.

Solomon’s parents were Moritz Karpen (1823-1886) and Johanna (née Cohen) Karpen (1835-1902). Moritz, who descended from three generations of cabinetmakers, owned a furniture workshop located behind his home.[3] His earnings put him in the middle range of Jewish trade taxpayers. As a youth, Solomon worked in his father’s shop, where he learned to make household furniture, store fixtures, and even coffins for the local market. “Under the personal guidance and teaching of his father, he became, while yet a boy, a skilled cabinet-maker.”[4] Between 1859 and 1870, the Karpen family grew rapidly. Johanna gave birth to seven more sons: Oscar, Adolph, Benjamin, Isaac, Michael, Wilhelm, and Leopold. The Karpens belonged to the Jewish community and attended services at the synagogue a few blocks from their home. Solomon and his brothers attended the Jewish school run by the Jewish community. The community used German and Judeo-German (German written in Hebrew letters) for its records and documentation.[5]

In 1872, at age forty-eight, Moritz Karpen started the immigration process. Solomon maintained that his parents’ dream of a better life was the reason for their departure.[6] On April 10, the Karpens’ emigration papers were signed by the Prussian District Court. On June 29, 1872, after a two-week voyage on the SS California from Glasgow, Scotland, the family arrived at Castle Garden, New York.[7]

Early Years in America

When the family landed in the United States, one place seemed as good as another, so they went to East Lyme, Connecticut, where work was promised. There, Solomon and his father worked in a woolen mill.[8] After a few months, they moved to Chicago, where work for carpenters was plentiful in the aftermath of the Great Fire of October 7, 1871.[9]

During their first year in Chicago the last of the Karpen children – their ninth son, Julius – was born. At about the same time, the Karpens severed their remaining financial ties to Wongrowitz by selling both their home and Moritz Karpen’s workshop. Moritz initially worked in a Chicago furniture factory but then started a small upholstered furniture business. Solomon (usually called “Sam” or “S.K.”) attended night school, apprenticed as an upholsterer to acquire expertise, and worked for several upholstered furniture manufacturers in Chicago and Kansas City, Missouri. He rose to the level of foreman.[10]

Business Development

When Solomon was twenty, his parents started allowing him to keep his earnings. He quickly accumulated $580 (approximately $13,100 in 2010)[11] and decided to go into business himself. It was time for him to fulfill his elderly father’s dream of building a factory that would “combine progressive American ideas with the craftsmanship of the Old World, where building fine furniture was an art, not just an industry.”[12] At the time, Chicago had not yet become a center for furniture manufacturing, and the city had fewer than forty firms that produced upholstered pieces.[13] In August 1880, after only eight years in America, Solomon Karpen founded S. Karpen & Bros, which he named after himself and his brothers – in anticipation of bringing them into the business.

Solomon opened a workshop in the basement of a building a few blocks from the family home. Using hand tools, he and his brothers produced upholstered parlor suites and chairs, which Solomon then sold to retail furniture stores and department stores in Chicago. Oscar was the first of the Karpen brothers to join Solomon. Oscar had already worked as a furniture gilder (a skilled craftsman who applies gold leaf to ornate furniture). Brothers Isaac (“Ike”) and Michael (“Mike”) were still teenagers when they joined the business. In its first year, S. Karpen & Bros. realized profits of more than $7,000 (approximately $154,000 in 2010), kept moving to larger workshops, and added a showroom.

In 1882, Adolph, who had graduated from the Chicago College of Pharmacy, owned a drugstore, and was a leader in pharmaceutical associations in Chicago and throughout Illinois, brought his marketing and financial skills to the company. S. Karpen & Bros. quickly expanded its business by employing traveling salesmen in the South and the Midwest. Michael Karpen became one of these traveling salesmen, while Wilhelm (“William, Will”) joined the company as its bookkeeper.

S. Karpen & Bros. gradually became better known. The company began publishing elaborate furniture catalogs that were distributed to retail furniture stores and department stores throughout the Midwest; it placed advertisements in national furniture trade journals and also garnered frequent mention in those publications. Adolph took a leading role in furniture manufacturers’ trade organizations in Chicago, and he represented Chicago furniture interests on the national level.

Solomon strove to be an innovator in the mass-produced (as opposed to custom or hand-made) furniture industry. The company began offering a satisfaction guarantee on every piece sold. Solomon sought new opportunities by acquiring the rights and patents for new products, such as a folding bed lounge, which was much in demand with the influx of immigrants.

Solomon continued to bring his brothers into the business until all nine were involved. Benjamin (“Ben”) left the cigar business to work as an agent and salesman in the Northwest, and Leopold (“Leo”) began as a clerk. Julius, the youngest, worked part time during his undergraduate studies at the University of Chicago and then during law school. Oscar ran the woodworking department, and Isaac became the factory superintendent. Adolph was in charge of the showrooms, the traveling salesmen, and marketing strategies. Solomon oversaw the factories and purchasing. He travelled to the East and to Europe on extended trips to seek out new fabrics and trends.

Solomon expanded the company by buying a frame factory, and afterwards S. Karpen & Bros. began manufacturing its own frames for upholstered furniture. After an 1887 fire in the building that housed the factory and showroom, Solomon decided to move his showrooms closer to Michigan Avenue, the center of the city’s wholesale furniture trade. The new location also had the advantage of being near the railroad stations and the commercial hotels that served visiting furniture buyers. Solomon entered the growing market for commercial commissions and started manufacturing furniture for office buildings, churches, schools, libraries, clubs, lodges, hotels, and railroad observation cars. As the company needed more production capacity, he opened an even larger factory with more than 250 employees.

Furniture manufactured by S. Karpen & Bros. attracted local and regional exposure through exhibitions organized by the Chicago Furniture Association. Even more importantly, the Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 put Karpen furniture in the national spotlight – the company’s parlor suite won first prize, a gold medal, for design and workmanship in the upholstered furniture category.

Aided by Adolph’s knowledge of finance and real estate, Solomon started purchasing the buildings that housed the Karpen Bros.’ showrooms on South Michigan Avenue. The company rented out the floors that they did not use for its own displays. During the 1890s, the company purchased several buildings on Michigan Avenue as showrooms and subsequently sold them at a considerable profit.

By 1899, Chicago was the largest furniture market in the United States with a total output of more than $23 million (approximately $624 million in 2010).  At the time, the city’s furniture factories employed about 25,000 men.[14] Chicago’s proximity to natural resources, its abundance of skilled immigrant workers, and its place in distribution networks that serviced America’s up and coming regions made it an ideal location for business and expansion. With all the brothers in place in the company, Solomon purchased a huge factory in a central location in Chicago in 1899. Its twelve buildings boasted 200,000 square feet and included a railroad spur that enabled assembly-line production. Solomon established a vertical manufacturing infrastructure that encompassed all of the steps in the manufacturing process from the purchase of raw lumber, to the drying of wood in kilns, to frame construction, to upholstering, and finally to distribution to retail stores.

Over the years, the company and the individual brothers patented and acquired rights and patents for machinery and furniture manufacturing innovations from other inventors. Solomon obtained patents for carving and tufting machines that automated formerly labor-intensive processes. With these inventions, S. Karpen & Bros. increased its output and maintained medium and low prices. However, even with automation, the craftsmen continued to use hand tools to complete the carving, polishing, and finishing. By the turn of the century, S. Karpen & Bros. was the largest upholstered furniture manufacturing company in the world.[15]

In 1900, Solomon, with critical input from Julius and Adolph, improved the company’s marketing strategy. Up to that point, only a few furniture companies advertised in non-trade magazines and journals, and no wholesale upholstered furniture manufacturer had ever done so.[16] Through advertisements in national magazines like TheSaturday Evening Post (which had a circulation of 750,000 in 1904), McClure’s, and Munsey’s, the company began marketing directly to its customers.[17] More to the point, the Karpens marketed directly to housewives, who were known to be the decision-makers when it came to home furnishings.  They ran advertisements in women’s magazines such as The Ladies Home Journal, Women’s Home Companion, Delineator, and Good Housekeeping. One groundbreaking marketing innovation, not just for the company but for the wholesale mass production furniture industry as a whole, was the “S. Karpen & Bros.” tag, a metal tag (with the Karpen guarantee) affixed to every piece of furniture made by the company. S. Karpen & Bros. broadened its reach by catering to the tastes and desires of various classes. While the company produced entire lines of upholstered furniture for the newly constructed mansions of the nouveau riche, it also manufactured simpler pieces that appealed to the growing middle classes. To boost its brand recognition, the company provided illustrative newspaper advertising cuts to stores. This enabled retail furniture stores and department stores to place attractive advertisements in their local newspapers.[18]

Although S. Karpen & Bros. was still a Midwestern company, it had enough manufacturing capacity to sell throughout the country. With an eye toward national expansion, the brothers set their sights on growth markets. After the company won the grand prize for upholstered furniture at the Saint Louis World's Fair (Louisiana Purchase Exhibition) of 1904, Solomon thought that the time was right to break into the New York and East Coast markets that had always been dominated by furniture manufacturers from New York City and New York state. In 1905, S. Karpen & Bros. became the first Midwestern wholesale mass production furniture company to open a showroom in New York City.[19] Leopold moved to New York to manage the showroom, and the company built up its presence there. Four years later, the company was awarded an important government contract to manufacture office suites for the new United States Senate Office Building (the Russell Senate Office Building). In 1911, S. Karpen & Bros. won another prestigious East Coast contract – this time to manufacture chairs for the Trustees Room of the newlybuilt New York Public Library.[20]

Back in Chicago, Solomon and Adolph decided to construct a new furniture showroom building at 910 South Michigan Avenue. Designed by the well-known Chicago architectural firm Marshall & Fox, the Karpen Building opened in 1911 and housed showrooms and offices for other businesses and organizations as well. In 1917, Standard Oil Co. purchased the building for $3.5 million ($59.5 million in 2010), the largest Chicago real estate transaction up to that point.[21]

S. Karpen & Bros. expanded its advertising campaigns and began running ads in magazines like National Geographic, Harper’s, and House & Garden, which were read by middle- and upper-middle-classes. The advertisements, some of which were in color, depicted furniture in elegantly decorated rooms. In 1916, Solomon expanded the Karpen product line by purchasing a Michigan City, Indiana, company that manufactured rattan and fiber rush furniture. To serve its growing East Coast markets, S. Karpen & Bros. also built a large East Coast factory with direct railroad connections in Long Island City, New York. By this time, the company had developed important markets in the West as well. To serve that region and to enter the bedroom and dining room furniture market, Solomon bought a large factory near Los Angeles in 1927. He also started a transportation seating division to serve the growing bus, rail, and ocean liner sectors. For the first time, he sought non-family members to lead that division, and it prospered.

These years brought great wealth and influence to the company and the brothers. In 1912, Solomon was interviewed for the article “How to Become a Millionaire,” which was published in Worker’s Magazine, a supplement to the Chicago Daily Tribune.[22] Although he was “never actively engaged in politics,” Adolph was chosen by the Illinois governor to chair the commission to construct the Illinois Building at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915 in San Francisco.[23] Secretary Herbert Hoover of the Department of Commerce appointed Adolph as a delegate to the Paris Exposition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Art in 1925. Solomon sponsored a well-publicized Living Room Furniture Design national competition, in conjunction with the Art Alliance of America, to find the new American designers of Art Moderne. In 1926, S. Karpen & Bros. was the subject of a feature article in Forbes. The article, "How Nine Brothers Built Up a $10,000,000 Business” told the story of Solomon and his brothers’ entrepreneurship.[24]

Solomon oversaw the company’s vertical expansion. He developed a small wooden kiln drying company into the successful Wenborne-Karpen Dryer Company, which manufactured the drying systems and later the air conditioning systems used in many industries. Always looking to improve the manufacturing processes, the company pursued another lucrative line of business. Seeking a quicker-drying varnish, Solomon underwrote research being conducted at the University of Kansas under the auspices of the Mellon Institute in Pittsburgh. In 1911, Dr. Lawrence Redman and a subsidiary of S. Karpen & Bros. applied for the patent for Redmanol, a plastic (phenolic resin) similar to Bakelite, which had been patented by Dr. Leo Hendrick Baekeland in 1909. Having secured the patent, Solomon founded the Redmanol Chemical Products Co., which produced Redmanol smoking pipes, cigarette holders, and products for industrial uses. The Redmanol factory was located on the campus of the Karpens’ Chicago furniture factory. In the ensuing years, Dr. Baekeland charged the Karpens with patent infringement, eventually winning. Nevertheless, through Adolph’s financial maneuvering, Redmanol Chemical Products Co. (and Condensite Company) merged with the General Bakelite Company in 1921. The Redmanol name was used into the mid-1920s, after which all products were produced under the Bakelite name.[25] Adolph and later Leopold were officers of the Bakelite Corporation until the company was bought by Union Carbide in 1939.

Over the decades, the number of brothers active in the company dwindled as the family was struck by a series of tragedies. In 1896, Benjamin, a company salesman, died of typhoid fever. Julius, who was being groomed for the company leadership, died in 1907 after being thrown from his horse. William, who had retired for health reasons, died in 1915. Isaac, the factory superintendent, died in the influenza epidemic of 1918. Thus, Solomon looked to the next generation of Karpens to fill leadership positions. Since so few of the nine Karpen brothers had sons, they had to integrate their sons-in-law into the company. The members of this generation did not attend college; they were trained in the company for leadership roles. S. Karpen & Bros. was always a privately held corporation with shares owned by family members.

In 1926, the company boasted more than $10 million in annual sales (approximately $123 million in 2010) and employed 1,800 workers in three factories.[26] The Depression put an end to the company’s phenomenal growth, however. The Indiana factory was closed in 1933. After decades of owning its showroom buildings, Karpen Bros. leased 18,000 square feet in the Chicago Merchandise Mart. Solomon and Adolph were elderly and ill. Adolph died in 1935, and Solomon passed away in 1936.

Since Oscar had retired from the company in the early 1900s, Leopold and Michael were the only brothers who remained with the company. They continued to work with members of the younger generations. In the 1950s, the company had annual sales of about $8 million (approximately $72.4 million in 2010), and it owned five factories.  After Michael’s death, S. Karpen & Bros. was sold in 1951 to International Furniture Co. (a manufacturer of lower-priced furniture) for $3.5 million (approximately $29.4 million in 2010). As Time Magazine reported, “Karpen… has always catered to the luxury trade” and the sale “brought the Cadillac and the Chevrolet of the furniture business” together.[27]

The end of S. Karpen & Bros. was not unique to that company; rather, it was a story shared by other Chicago furniture companies. The Depression, World War II, and postwar austerity measures made it more difficult for the middle class to buy quality mass-produced furniture. At the same time, cheaper non-union labor, the lower cost of living, proximity to natural resources, and new modern factory plants drew companies that produced furniture for the masses to the South. Additionally, like other Chicago furniture manufacturers whose founding owners had died, S. Karpen & Bros. “lost momentum in the hands of a second or third generation.”[28]

Immigrant Entrepreneurship

Solomon Karpen was the consummate immigrant entrepreneur. The craftsmanship he had learned in West Prussia gave him the skills he needed to adapt historical, period, and even contemporary styles to the American market. The company’s catalogs, brochures, and advertisements aimed to educate potential customers about style and materials, and they tapped into the American middle class’s desire to live the so-called American Dream. Solomon understood that each middle class family believed that its home and furnishings reflected not only its financial situation, but also its social status, and its hopes for the next generation. He was always searching for new ideas even for “things which were never designed for the use by a manufacturer of upholstered goods, but which can be converted to [those] purposes.”[29]

In the Karpen Bros.’ factories, German-speaking immigrant craftsmen found a workplace that embraced the European ideals of fine craftsmanship and design. Solomon communicated with them in German, but he always maintained a certain distance and never let them forget that he was the “S.” in S. Karpen & Bros. Solomon became a naturalized U.S. citizen on November 1, 1884, but the skills and values that he cultivated in his youth in West Prussia continued to shape his personal and professional outlook.

Religion and Social Life

In February 1884, at the age of twenty-six, Solomon became the first Karpen brother to marry. His wife, Ernestine Schwalbe, was born in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, in 1862. Ernestine’s father was born in the Province of Prussia and immigrated before 1860. He worked as a clerk in a clothing store and served as a lay rabbi and teacher for the small German-speaking Jewish Reform congregation in LaCrosse. Her mother was born in Baden. In 1880, Ernestine and her family moved to Chicago, where she worked as a store clerk to help support her family, as her father was in failing health. Solomon and Ernestine had three sons and two daughters. Ernestine always served as Solomon’s sounding board and accompanied him on his extended trips to the East and abroad.

Three of Solomon’s brothers – Isaac, Benjamin, and Leopold – married Jewish women. The other five brothers married Catholic or Protestant women. Even with such diversity in the family, the brothers remained together in the company. Their mother was the matriarch; all of the brothers lived near her home until her death in 1902. Thereafter, they rented or owned sizeable homes in the affluent areas of Chicago. Together, they celebrated important company and family milestones.

Solomon and Ernestine were active members of the North Chicago Hebrew Congregation (now Temple Sholom) and then Temple Isaiah (now KAM Isaiah Israel), both Reform congregations with German-Jewish roots and customs. He was a lifelong member of B’nai B’rith, a German-Jewish fraternal organization. Solomon and Ernestine were buried in the Karpen-Schwalbe plot in Jewish Graceland Cemetery (Hebrew Benevolent Society Cemetery) in Chicago. The family had maintained this plot since the death of Ernestine’s father in 1882.

All of the brothers participated in individual and team sports, including baseball. The brothers even formed a family baseball team. The nine brothers took great pride in making baseball history: in the 1890s they played in the family baseball league. Parades and trophies made the baseball games between nine-brother teams events that were reported in newspapers across America, and they became part of baseball lore.[30]

Additionally, Solomon loved to fish and spend time on the lakes of Wisconsin. He became an excellent golfer and was an early member of the Idlewild Golf Club, a German-Jewish club. While Solomon had a strong affiliation with the German-Jewish community, he was involved in Christian society as well. He and his brothers were Masons and Elks and were very involved in fraternal order activities. Through their lodges they networked with businessmen from all ethnic backgrounds.[31] All of them donated to and participated in Jewish and non-denominational philanthropic endeavors.

Solomon never forgot his roots in the Jewish community of Wongrowitz: after World War I, he donated money to set up a Jewish relief fund that was named in his honor. While he does not appear to have ever returned to Wongrowitz, he remained in contact with former Jewish residents who had moved to Berlin and America.[32] He is remembered as one of the most successful people born in Wągrowiec, Poland; an exhibit in the town museum celebrates his contributions to American industry.    

Conclusion

Solomon Karpen died in Chicago on October 24, 1936. The next day, a New York Times obituary described him as “the dean of furniture makers in the United States.”[33] Solomon Karpen’s successes coincided with Chicago’s rise to preeminence in the American furniture industry. His business flourished just as America’s middle class was growing. His drive, focus, and understanding of American tastes helped him acquire prestige, influence, and a considerable fortune. In 1930, on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of S. Karpen & Bros., Solomon offered the following reflections on the source of his success: “We have enjoyed our work, our men have enjoyed the work, and all of the Karpen organization takes a pride in the building of good products…. My brothers and I have gone through panics, we have been wiped out by fire and we have had our ups and downs, but we never have lost the ideals, the cherished dream which our father had when he came to this country from Germany.” [34]

Notes

[1] State Archive Posen, Landrats Wągrowiec (Findbuch Nr. 338, 1815-1918); sygnatura 212; nr. tabel Dec, 1861.

[2] State Archive Posen, Landrats Wągrowiec (Findbuch Nr. 338, 1815-1918); sygnatura 212; nr. tabel Dec, 1861.

[3] Chicago Furniture Manufacturers’ Association, The Story of Karpen. Chicago: Chicago Furniture Manufacturers’ Association, August 26, 1930. Stadtarchiv Wągrowiec, Wągrowiec T. III-K. 263, October 14, 1845- February 10, 1873, 66.

[4] Chicago Furniture Manufacturers’ Association, The Story of Karpen.

[5] Archiv der Stiftung Neue Synagoge Berlin - Centrum Judaicum; 1,75 A Gesamtarchiv, Jüdische Gemeinden; Wo 3 Wongrowitz; 9302 Nr. 34 (Indent.- Nr. 9098); 1843, # 34

[6] S. Karpen & Bros. Transportation Division, “The Karpen Story,” ca. 1940.

[7] Ship Manifest, New York. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, New York, 1820-1897. Micropublication M237. Microfilm Roll # 361; List # 676; Lines 16-23. National Archives, Washington, DC.

[8] Solomon Karpen quoted in Neil Clark, "How Nine Brothers Built Up a $10,000,000 Business,” Forbes, August 1, 1926, 9.

[9] Solomon Karpen in Neil Clark.

[10] S. Karpen, “How to Become a Millionaire,” Authorized Interview by Courtney R. Cooper, in Worker’s Magazine, Supplement to Chicago Daily Tribune, February 12, 1912, 5; The Furniture Journal, October 9, 1908, 121.

[11] All current values (in 2010 USD) are based on Samuel H. Williamson, "Seven Ways to Compute the Relative Value of a U.S. Dollar Amount, 1774 to present," MeasuringWorth, 2011, using the Consumer Price Index.

[12] S. Karpen & Bros. Transportation Division, “The Karpen Story.”

[13] The Furniture Interests of Chicago, American Furniture Gazette, Fall Extra, 1884, 2.

[14] The Furniture World, January 4, 1900, 43.

[15] The Furniture Worker, April 10, 1899, 24.American Cabinet Maker and Upholsterer, June 24, 1899, 12.

[16] “The Tattler,” The Furniture Journal, October 25, 1904, 32. “A $5,000 Furniture Advertisement,” The Furniture Journal, December 10, 1904, 20. “Publicity for the Store,” Grand Rapids Furniture Record, October, 1914, 258. Sharon Darling, Chicago Furniture: Art, Craft, & Industry 1833-1983 (New York: Norton, 1984), 73.

[17] “The Tattler,” The Furniture Journal, October 25, 1904, 32. “A $5,000 Furniture Advertisement,” The Furniture Journal, December 10, 1904, 20.

[18] “The Tattler,” The Furniture Journal, October 25, 1904, 32.

[19] Grand Rapids Furniture Record, August 1914, 112.

[20] Correspondence, contracts, Architect of the Capitol, Arts & Reference Subject Files: Russell Senate Office Building, Record Group 40, Series 40.3, Reel 21-1908. “Regarding this Furnishing of Carrère & Hastings’ Most Important Building, the New York Public Library, Designed in 1897 and open in May 1911,” Antiques Magazine, May 1976, 1047, fn. 5.

[21] Chicago Daily Tribune, March 3, 1917, 1; March 4, 1917, A8.

[22] S. Karpen, “How to Become a Millionaire,” Authorized Interview by Courtney R. Cooper, in Worker’s Magazine, Supplement to the Chicago Daily Tribune, February 12, 1912, 5.

[23] “Adolph Karpen,” Press Reference Library, Western Edition, Notables of the West, vol. 2, 1915, 229.

[24] Neil Clark, "How Nine Brothers Built Up a $10,000,000 Business.”

[25] Drug & Chemical Markets, June 21, 1922, 853, 1403.

[26] Neil Clark, "How Nine Brothers Built Up a $10,000,000 Business.”

[27] Time Magazine, March 26, 1951, 93.

[28] Sharon Darling, Chicago Furniture: Art, Craft, & Industry 1833-1983 (New York: Norton, 1984), 319.

[29] “The Tattler,” The Furniture Journal, December 25, 1904.

[30] H. Allen Smith, Low and Inside: A Book of Baseball Anecdotes, Oddities, and Curiosities (Halcottsville, NY: Breakaway Books, 1949, reprint, 2000), 130.

[31] John Leonard, ed., Book of Chicagoans, 1905 (Chicago: Marquis & Co., 1905), 323.

[32] Various articles, 1927-1936, Posener Heimatblätter, State Library, Berlin.

[33] “Solomon Karpen of Chicago Dies,” New York Times, October 25, 1936.

[34] Carl A. Saunders, "They Called Us Crazy, but ─,” Furniture Manufacturer, September, 1930.


Cite this Entry

APA Style

"Solomon Karpen." (2017) In Immigrant Entrepreneurship, Retrieved March 25, 2017, from Immigrant Entrepreneurship: http://www.immigrantentrepreneurship.org/entry.php?rec=105

Chicago Style

Rose, Emily C. "Solomon Karpen." In Immigrant Entrepreneurship: German-American Business Biographies, 1720 to the Present, vol. 3, edited by Giles R. Hoyt. German Historical Institute. Last modified February 06, 2014. http://www.immigrantentrepreneurship.org/entry.php?rec=105

MLA Style

"Solomon Karpen," Immigrant Entrepreneurship, 2017, Immigrant Entrepreneurship. 25 Mar 2017 <http://www.immigrantentrepreneurship.org/entry.php?rec=105>

Portrait of Solomon Karpen, 1916

  • The Nine Karpen Brothers on the Cover of the Company's 1885 Catalog
  • The Nine Karpen Brothers and the S. Karpen & Bros. Building
  • S. Karpen & Bros. Factory in Michigan City, Indiana, 1916
  • S. Karpen & Bros. exhibit at the St. Louis World’s Fair

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