Tomorrow marks the 175th birthday of the man who lent his name to our company almost 150 years ago. On February 16, 1839 Albert Hammacher was born in Leichlingen, a farming community in the North Rhine-Westphalia region of Germany. As the story goes, in 1859 Mr. Hammacher was introduced to Charles Tollner, owner of a thriving New York City hardware store, by one of its employees and a fellow countryman, William Schlemmer. Mr. Hammacher was prevailed upon to invest $5,000 in the business, which was apparently enough to warrant the company to rename itself C. Tollner and A. Hammacher. (How the 20-year-old came into such a large sum—almost $150,000 in today’s money—remains a mystery.)
Two years later, Mr. Tollner left the business, prompting another name change, to A. Hammacher, and it remained so until 1867. That year Mr. Schlemmer and several others were admitted as partners, resulting in the addition of “& Co.” By 1883, Mr. Schlemmer had acquired a majority of the business and the company’s name became the familiar-and-fun-to-pronounce moniker we are known by today, Hammacher Schlemmer & Co. From all indications, although he was listed as a vice president, Mr. Hammacher, who also owned a hardware business in Germany, did not take an active role in the company’s day-to-day operations. In 1899, he left the business and was replaced by William Schlemmer’s son, William F. Schlemmer. Mr. Hammacher eventually returned to Germany where he lived his final days, passing away on January 12, 1912. But his name, like the company, endures.