New York Department Store Pioneer B. Altman pays William Waldorf Astor $18,750!

Partly Printed Check Signed "Benjamin Altman," 6.5" x 2.75". New York, January 31, 1911. Drawn on the Astor Trust Company "Safe Deposit Vaults," completed in manuscript, made payable to "W.W. Astor" for $18,750. Endorsed on verso "W.W. Astor" beneath stamping: "Pay Astor Trust Company, / or Order / William Waldorf Astor." One tiny bank cancellation hole on "n" of "Benjamin." Fine condition.

The Astor Trust Company was a financial institution at 5th Avenue and 36th Street headed by John Jacob Astor IV, William Waldorf Astor's cousin. Benjamin Altman was a director and a stockholder in the Astor Trust Company. After Altman acquired property owned by W.W. Astor in 1910 on a long lease, he owned outright more than half of the block bordered by Fifth and Madison Avenues, between 34th and 35th Streets. What he did not own was held on long leases from Astor. This check most probably was payment for property leased by Altman from Astor.

Benjamin Altman (1840-1913) founded the department store and chain, B. Altman & Co. in New York City in 1865. Altman's flagship store was on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 34th Street, across Fifth Avenue from the homes of brothers William B. Astor, Jr. (1829-1892) and John Jacob Astor III (1822-1890). When John Jacob Astor III died in 1890, William Waldorf Astor (1848-1919) inherited his father's share of the Astor holdings and, titularly, became the head of the Astor family. He tore down his father's house and replaced it with the Waldorf Hotel. The 13-story hotel was specifically designed to overshadow Mrs. Astor's mansion, which was right next door, in an attempt to overshadow her status with it.

In 1891, William Waldorf Astor moved with his family to England, became an English subject in 1899, and was created Baron Astor in 1916 and Viscount Astor in 1917. Unwilling to live next door to the Waldorf Hotel, his aunt, Mrs. Astor, and her son, John Jacob Astor IV (1864-1912), tore down their house and erected another hotel at its site, the Astoria. Soon the two hotels merged and became the original Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. It was torn down in 1928-1929 to make way for the Empire State Building. The new Waldorf Astoria at Park Avenue and East 49th Street was completed in 1931.

Item: 59432

Price: $1,500.00
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