George Borgfeldt & Co., Circa: 1881 to 1933
George Borgfeldt Corporation, Circa: 1933 to 1961
Founder: George Borgfeldt and Marcell and Joseph Kahle
George Borgfeldt (1833-1903) was an early resident of the Dakota Apartments. His name appears in the New York City "Police" census 1890 as "Borgfeldt George M age 56 living at the Dakota 8th Ave 72nd to 73rd Streets. With him were Johanna F. Borgfeldt, age 28, (wife? daughter?) and Johanna F. Wilkins, age 20, (possibly a maid). His death in 1903 was reported in the New York Times 22 Nov. 1903, p. 7, "George Borgfeldt, founder of the importing firm of George Borgfeldt in this city, died on Friday at Doeblinz, Vienna, Austria. Mr. Borgfeldt had not been actively engaged in business for several years past. He was born in Meldorf, Schleswig-Holstein on Aug. 25, 1833. His father was Johann G. Borgfeldt. Mr. Borgfeldt served an apprenticeship in Rensberg, and then, at the age of twenty, came to this country. He worked as a clerk till 1857, when he opened a store at Nashville, Tenn. In 1865 he came to New York and engaged in the commission business. In 1881 he established the importing house which is carried on under his name. After forty years of active business life, Mr. Borgfeldt retired."
Import Business Location:
Circa: 1909 40-50 West 4th Street, New York, New York
Circa: 1914 16th Street and Irving Place, New York, New York
Circa: 1924 to 1926 111-119 East 16th Street, New York, New York
Circa: 1931 44-60 East 23rd Street, Corner of 4th Avenue, Kenny Building, New York, New York
Circa: 1944 44-60 East 23rd Street, New York 10, New York
Circa: 1881 to 1962
Specialty: Importer and wholesaler of various toys, china and glassware.
In 1881 Geo. Borgfeldt & Co. was formed as a partnership with George Borgfeldt, Marcell Kahle and Joseph L. Kahle. The purpose of the firm was to import from Europe dolls, toys, figurines and novelty items for distribution to the American market. Branch offices were established in New York City, in Canada and all over Europe, particularly in Germany, the center of the doll and toy manufacturing industry. George Borgfeldt resigned as president of the firm in 1900 and was succeeded by Marcell Kahle. After the death of Kahle in 1909, Fred Kolb became president. In 1912 Kolb entered negotiations with Rose O'Neill to produce a variety of Kewpie figurines and dolls. They decided to hire an American assistant to render designs from Rose O'Neill's Drawings of Kewpie.
The original conception of the company was described as follows: "For several years prior to the formation of the original firm of Geo. Borgfeldt & Co., the late Mr. Borgfeldt had been the managing partner of the then leading toy house, Messrs. Strasburger, Pfeiffer & Co., of New York City. During his association with this firm it became clear to Mr. Borgfeldt that the American importer labored under great difficulties. The goods in which he sought to deal were manufactured in many countries and in what might be termed out-of-the-way places, and either in small factories or in the homes of those skilled in their several lines of manufacture. The expense incident to the placing of orders under these conditions, and the great amount of time which must of necessity be devoted by buyers in searching the markets, were items entirely disproportionate to the profits which accrued from the sale of the goods.
To overcome these difficulties and to enable the American jobber or dealer to import goods without the necessity of going abroad, and to eliminate the excessive costs of the old system, Mr. Borgfeldt conceived the idea of assembling in New York samples of the products of the best factories of Europe manufacturing Dolls, Toys and kindred articles, and of booking Import Orders through the display of these samples. To that end, in conjunction with Mr. Marcell Kahle, who had for several years been his valued assistant, and with Mr. Joseph L. Kahle, until then in charge of the credit department and general office management of the business in which Mr. Borgfeldt was a partner, the co-partnership of Geo. Borgfeldt & Co. was formed, and the first sign bearing this name appeared on the building in which three single lofts served the purposes of display. The location was at 83 Leonard Street, and the move was made on January 1st, 1881. It was in this location that the now widely-known Import Order business had its origin.
The departments of the company included China and Earthenware; Dolls; Import Toys; Stationery, Musical and Optical Goods; Import Glassware; American Toys; Druggists' Sundries; House Furnishings; French and Italian China; American Cut Glass and Pottery; Art Goods; American Fancy Goods; Foreign and Domestic Notions; The Japan Import and Export Commission Co.; Hanover Rubber Goods; Cutlery; Advertising and Purchasing; and an extensive Selling Force.
Goerge Borgfeldt was the first company to hold exclusive licensing for character toys. From 1928 to 1935 Borgfeldt held the exclusive licensing for Mickey & Minnie Mouse, Felix the Cat, Toonerville Trolley, Barney Google & Spark Plug, Buttercup, Jiggs and Maggie .One of their most popular trade marks was called "Nifty" but also used "Oh Boy" for pressed steel trucks and cars. Until the late 1920's these toys were imported. At that time, the line was moved to different manufacturers in the U.S., including J. Chein and Company. In 1933, the firm was liquidated and they were taken over by Messes, George and Fred Kola, under the name Geo. Borgfeldt Corporation.
George Borgfeldt & Company was located in New York and was an importer and assembler of dolls for the American and Canadian doll markets, in other words they did not manufacturer their own dolls. They held the distributing rights to many dolls from European manufacturers such as: Buschow & Beck, Handwerck, K?the Krause, Kammer & Reinhardt, Kestner, Armand Marseille, and Steiff. They also distributed American dolls for; Aetna Doll Company, Georgene Averill, Sol Bergfeld & Son, Dreamland Doll, Cameo Doll Company and K & K Toy. Some dolls distributed by this company may have a "G. B." marking on them, others will not and have only the marking from the manufacturer.
Many trademarks were registered by the George Borgfeldt company, some are: Alma, 1925 Baby Bo-Kaye designed by Joseph L. Kallus, 1926 Bonnie Babe, Lilly, Snookum, Celebrate, Uwanta, Juno with a tin shoulder head, Floradora, Kidlyne, My Playmate, My Dearie, Pansy, Little Bright Eyes, My Girl, Happifat, Cudist, Peero, Butterfly, Prize Baby, September Morn Doll, Mamma's Angel Child, Bettijak, Nobbikid, Rastus, Skating Charlotte, Preshus, Em-boss-O, Hillikid, Come-A-Long, 1923 Bye-Lo Baby & 1928 Fly-Lo or Baby Aero designed by Grace Storey Putnam, Mimi, Daisy, Rosemarie, Felix, Bringing Up Father, Wathsmatter, Ko-Ko, Little Annie Rooney, Jackie Coogan, Buttercup, Featherweight, Rolly-I-Tot, Bonton, Jolly Jester, Rag & Tag, 1929 Gladdie designed by Helen W. Jensen, Mignonne, Nifty, Rosy Posy, Sugar Plum, Just Me, Babykins, Mary Ann & Mary Jane. They are best known for commissioning and distributing the very successful Rosie O'Neill's - Kewpie Dolls and Grace Storey Putnam's - Bye-Lo Baby dolls 1881 - The organization of the firm of Geo. Borgfeldt & Co, 83 Leonard Street.
A Chronology of the Company:
1882 - Connections were made with the firm of S. A. Hecht, Hanover.
- Mr. Ferdinand Hecht became manager of Hanover branch.
- Mr. George W. Booth became manager of Toronto branch.
1886 - Mr. George F. Pfeiffer and Mr. L. P. Twyefort admitted to partnership.
1888 - Mr. George Semler was admitted to partnership.
1891 - Mr. Jean Emil Sch?ssel was admitted to partnership.
1893 - Business reorganized as a corporation under the corporate name of Geo. Borgfeldt & Co.
1896 - Mr. George Kolb and Mr. C. G. Pfeiffer became stockholders.
1900 - Mr. Geo. Borgfeldt retired from active participation in the business and resigned the presidency.
Mr. Marcell Kahle elected president.
Mr. George Semler, first vice-president.
Mr. George Kolb, second vice-president.
Mr. Joseph L. Kahle, secretary and treasurer.
1903 - Mr. Fred. Kolb became s stockholder.
1904 - Mr. Joseph L. Kahle resigned as secretary
Mr. Emil Kaufmann elected secretary and assistant treasurer.
1905 - Mr. Fred. Kolb elected secretary.
Mr. Joseph L. Kahle resigned as treasurer.
Mr. Emil Kaufmann elected treasurer.
Mr. Ekko Sollmann became a stockholder.
All Values Based on Mint Condition only
Production Location: JAPAN
Army Band, No.66/1852, four soldiers - 3 1/2 inches tall - $150.00
Jiggs and Maggie, four characters - $140.00
Little Rascals, No.66/1119, five characters - $150.00
Mickey, Minnie - $200.00
Mickey, No.66/1506, one character with sword, one character with rifle, two band characters - $250.00
Mickey Mouse, No.66/1657, three band characters - $225.00
Mickey, Pluto, Minnie - $175.00
Pinnochio, No.66/3405, six characters - 3 inches tall - $250.00
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs - $250.00
The Three Bears, No.66/1537 - 4 1/2 inches tall - $150.00
Three Pigs - $150.00
Three Pigs, No.86/801, smaller size - $120.00
U.S. Soldiers, No.64/1280, mounted officer, officer on foot, flag bearer, two marching soldiers - 3 1/2 inches tall - $120.00
U.S. Soldiers, officer, flag bearer, three marching soldiers - 3 1/2 inches tall - $120.00