Thursday, June 21, 2012

Louis Comfort Tiffany’s Lineage: Charles Lewis Tiffany


Charles Lewis Tiffany (r); Louis Comfort Tiffany (l)
Photo Source: San Francisco Sentinel

by Angela Magnotti Andrews

Even today, Tiffany is a household name. The work of Louis Comfort Tiffany has seen peaks and valleys throughout the last hundred years or more. A brilliant artisan, a shrewd businessman, a man of legacy, Louis Comfort Tiffany stands apart, but not alone. Tiffany’s heritage includes men and women who paved the way for his grand success, who shaped him and shaped his destiny, and who literally influenced generations of luxury lines after him.

Tiffany’s heritage started with his father, Charles Lewis Tiffany, who worked with partner John B. Young to found Tiffany and Young, a modest stationery and fancy goods store, in 1837. Known as the King of Diamonds, Charles Tiffany dared to profit from the loss of the European Royals. He and John Young (who was really the brawn behind the operation) bought diamonds in bulk from heads of state who lost their thrones in the tumultuous days of the late 1840s. They promptly turned around and sold these diamonds to the new breed of nobles: American businessmen.

These elite ties, however, were not the backbone of Charles Tiffany’s business strategy. In fact, it was his business acumen that secured Tiffany as a household name, and not just a name for the elite.

Charles Tiffany, a true democratic American, marketed his jewelry not only to the very wealthy, but also to the average working classes. He made deals with the “kings” of society as well as with the “kings” of the sea, the men along the docks. His ingenious networking skills literally afforded him a place at any table.

Louis Comfort Tiffany did not inherit a mere shop front with an inventory. He inherited a way of life, a life of favor. And he did not squander it. In fact, he built on the foundation left to him by his father and established an empire that remains strong and stalwart even today.
BIBLIOGRAPHY
1. Couldrey, Vivienne. The Art of Louis Comfort Tiffany. Secaucus, New Jersey: Wellfleet Press: 1989, 8-27.
2. Masters Lodge, The. "Louis Comfort Tiffany." Accessed June 12, 2012. http://www.masterslodge.co.nz/about/history_of_the_lodge/tiffany_bio.htm.

*Clip art courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

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