House of Rothschild
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by Dick Young

Editor’s Note: Bea Young handed me some papers at the November meeting that contained the notes from (the late) Dick Young’s address before the East Los Angeles Coin Club (circa 1965)—reprinted here in their entirety. Also attached was an article from the April 21, 1965 edition of Coin World, as follows: Young Speaks at East Los Angeles. There were 79 members present at a recent meeting of the East Los Angeles, Calif., Coin Club to hear Dick Young tell of the history of the House of Rothschild. Five new members were added to the roster and 10 persons were welcomed as guests for the evening. After he was introduced by Hy Spitz, Young told of the early beginnings of the Rothschild financial empire. Meyer Anselm Rothschild was the founder and was formerly in the used clothing business with his father and a brother. Young Rothschild noticed the influx of foreign coins due to Frankfurt being a seaport. He started in a small way to being a money changer for the seamen. He became interested in coins during the time when each ruler struck his own coinage. It was about this time several influential men noticed his activities and became interested to the point they furnished money to him to start an outlet. In 1769 he became a Court Factor and was elevated above the rest of his friends and neighbors to the point he could own property and invest in business ventures. With the help of Count Frederick of Hesse, he formed a group known as the Hessian soldiers, who were hired fighters and some were used in the Revolutionary War. Each of his five sons entered the business to found the vast financial empire whose holdings and charities were some of the greatest ever known. Thus, said Young, a period of over 200 years which the dynasty has helped mankind, was started by a single man and an idea.


On March 4, 1961, in the small town of Paullac, on the southeastern coast of France, occurred a wedding of some importance. The bride, a beautiful young woman, was gowned in the most exquisite white satin and capped with a white mink diadem trimmed with diamonds. She carried a spray of white apple blossoms which had been flown in from Turkey that morning just for her. The bridegroom at her side was handsome and talented, but a poor young man. He was, however, a Director of the Comedie Francais and his bride was billed there as Phillipine Paschal, a performer of note. As the groom was Catholic, the service would be performed by a priest of the Catholic faith. The bride was Jewish and from a very wealthy family. Her family was brought from Paris in their private cars attached to the Sud Express. The wedding supper would be served in a wine cellar, one of many owned by her father. The photographer of the events was Mr. Cecil Beaton, on leave from Her Majesty’s service at Buckingham Palace. After the ceremony, the bride would be given her dowry and from then on would have no further claim on the family. Disinherited? By no means, simply a rule which had been laid down by the head of the family almost two hundred years earlier...that each female descendant was to receive her equal share of the estate, but that the business would always fall to the men.

Let us now go back in history and see what has taken place from the beginning of this remarkable family up to the present time.

This story, if you will allow me to digress a bit, is especially interesting to me as I was stationed at a Royal Flying Corps base which was located on lands owned by this family and I have seen some of their great homes. At a later date, I was stationed at Paulliac in France also. Just happenstance. However, seeing those great estates and vineyards and having heard so much about the family, it is little wonder that I became intrigued and started reading up about them. Due to the start of this family being connected with our hobby, I thought perhaps you might also be interested, hence this talk.

This photograph depicts the original banking house opened by Mayer Amschel Rothschild in Frankfurt, Germany. The house was operated by Rothschild and his oldest son, Amschel Mayer, until its dissolution in 1901. The four other Rothschild sons opened bank branches in Vienna, Austria; Naples, Italy; London, England; and Paris, France. The London and Paris branches are still in operation.

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The head of this family was born in Frankfurt on Main. His ancestors were merchants in the town ghetto dealing in second hand goods. He appeared to be the brightest of a large brood of children so was sent to a school in Nuremberg with the plans to become a rabbi. However, his parents pass away and money runs out. He is given a place to work in a banking house owned by the House of Oppenhour in the city of Hanover. In Hanover, Jews were given much more liberty than in Frankfurt where they were compelled to live in ghettos, wear the yellow star and chains were locked across the street ends at night to prevent their wandering about. Only five hundred families were permitted in the city and marriages restricted to twelve per year...none the less, he soon returned to Frankfurt and began working in the business with his brothers. In those days, Germany was a loose confederation of states, each having its own money, and as Frankfurt was a great port, trade came from many places. Our young man started in to become a money changer along with his other work. Soon the odd and old coins began to interest him and he developed a knowledge of them.

Prince William of Hanau was the ruler of the state and he learns that the prince is a coin collector. Back in Hanover, he had run errands for a General Von Estorf who is now attached to the court of Prince William, so, he sets out to court the general’s favor and through him, the interest of the prince, who is a very wealthy man. In this endeavor, he is successful and ere long he is selling some of his coins to the prince and some of his associates. He is now on his way. His exchange business grows larger. He and his brothers move from the house of the red shield to one having a sign of a sauce pan. These people had no sir name so were called after the sign of the house in which they lived. However, the name of the house of the red shield clung to them after their moves. Next he bought our some coin collectors and attracted the attention of the Duke Karl August of Wiemar and some other important people. He now got out a catalogue in fancy gothic type which was distributed to his more important clientele. More business ensued. At this time, he wrote the prince imploring that he be named a court factor. He receives this appointment on Sept. 21, 1679 from His Serene Highness, Prince William of Hanua. Ordinarily, Jews could not engage in farming of own land but with his appointment, he could now own land so he buys an interest in the house of the sauce pan. Despite his small principality, Prince William was quite an important person. He was grandson of George II of England, cousin to George III (who lost the American colonies through the revolutionary war), nephew of the King of Denmark, brother-in-law to the King of Sweden and most of them owed him money! Like his father, Fredrick of Hesse-Cassel, William was sharp as a tack and missed no bets when it came to money matters. He, like his father, trafficked in man power...why have a lot of young men loafing around on his lands when he could impress them into his service, that is, his army? So this is what he did. He uniformed them, drilled them and sold their services to Great Britain who sent them to the colonies to do police work. Do you remember reading Hessian troops when studying American history of the revolution? Well, these were the boys referred to. When one of these men was killed, the prince or his father was paid for him depending upon where he came from. These payments, along with the part of the wages of the troops, went into the coffers of their nibs. However, there was one drawback. Drafts were sent but had to be cashed in London. Now we find the coin dealer buying clothes from England for the business in Frankfurt and this had to be paid for in Manchester in England. Why should not the coin dealer take the drafts of the prince, pay for his cloth and in turn pay the prince in cash? It so came to pass and ere long a son is sent to England to handle the affairs there. One brother retires and the other dies leaving the coin dealer in possession of the whole business. He and his family move into a larger house bearing a green shield. The additional room is needed as, in all, the man fathers twenty children of which five boys and five girls survive. They all help in the business and it thrives.

They now toss out the second hand clothing business and concentrate on cloth, tobacco, wines, money exchange and coins. Prince William succeeds to the inheritance left by his father and moves to Hesse-Cassel with his family where he becomes landgrave. The family is a large one, three children by his wife and twenty more by various girl friends.

By 1790 the coin dealer is doing very well indeed. His sons learned well, one becoming Treasurer of the German Confederation when formed, the second outshone Prince William in Vienna, the third who became the most powerful man in England, the fourth who did the same in Italy and the fifth who became the head of the house in Paris.

1804 and business is booming, but, in Denmark the treasury is broke. A loan arranged and handled by the coin dealer for the Landgrave goes well. Now he can sign himself as superior court agent and his sons as Hessian pay agents. Then comes Napoleon and he scares the pants off the Landgrave who buries most of his loot leaving some with the coin dealer and hurries off to Denmark for safety. Napoleon’s agents find most of the buried loot but not that which the coin dealer is holding. The Landgrave is receiving about 18,000 guilden from England per month but cannot collect in Denmark so the son in England now ships to Germany—clothing, food, dyestuffs, tobacco, coffee, sugar and other staples which is all contraband in so far as Napoleon is concerned. Some of the money for this goes to the Landgrave in Denmark which keeps him partially satisfied. Next, he sends from Denmark to the sone in England, milllions to be used to purchase bonds. First, however, the son does some trading on the market on his own account and when the bonds drop about ten points, he buys for the Landgrave. Everything right and proper.

September 16, 1812...the old coin dealer dies. The East India Company now comes up with gold worth over eight million dollars. The son in England buys it all and it is sent to, of all places—Paris—where Spanish bankers buy it and the proceeds are sent to support Wellington’s army. France got the gold but England won the war…

During these years, the house had developed a courier and news gathering service which was the fastest and best on earth. The five houses together made great loans to many of the european nations, the couriers crossing national boundries and the English channel, as we today cross streets, carrying news as well as documents and secret papers dealing with the affairs of state as well as business. In time, these couriers came to wear blue and yellow colors and became well known long before these same colors were worn by jockeys riding the families famous horses. In 1817, Vienna gavve them the right to use “Von” in the name. Small potatoes, they think, but it is accepted none the less.

Now a great French loan is arranged by rival bankers. The house was given no chance at all and it stung them to the quick. In 1818, another loan was being arranged but now the sons got busy. They bought and dumped the precious issue until it fell and then bought it again teaching the Paris bankers a lesson they were not to forget. Next they prevent a war between Austria and France as they will not loan the necessary money. They determine that industry will get their support, henceforth, so now two of the brothers begin to build railroads, one in Austria and one in France. Both are successful. In 1836, the brother in England dies and his oldest brother takes over in his stead. The brother in Paris becomes head of the house. He engages in a financial fight with a man by the name of Foulds. His three remaining brothers die and he, with nephews, carry oon and by 1867 the job is completed. In 1868, he dies. The son of his brother in Vienna has his name inscribed in the golden book of Vienna and in 1861 becomes a member of the house of lords. He petitions for membership in a casino, but is black-balled because of his race. He buys a sewage disposal plant for a small town near by and buys land in sight and smell of the club, installing it there. A membership card is sent him when construction begins, but he soaks it with very expensive perfume and returns it.

The english house loans the government twenty million pounds to pay slave owners for their slaves when this practice is abolished. Next, they raise eight million pounds for relief of Irish famine victims...then raise sixteen million to pay cost of war in Crimea.

In all, he arranged loans of twenty-five billion dollars for England. He bought control of Spanish mercury mines, South African diamond mines as well as copper and nitrate holdings. The second English son is knighted by the queen, the second son breeds horses and wins the derby and the youngest son, crippled by a hunting accident, lives in Paris, collects art and buys the Mouton vineyards...we heard of these before, didn’t we???

November 14, 1875, Disreli, Prime Minister of England, was having supper with the head of the English house. A telegram was brought in by a servant and after reading it, he announces to Disreli that the Suez Canal stocks owned by the Khedive of Egypt were for sale. France wanted them but could not raise the money. Disreli asked one question, “How much?” A wire was sent asking the price. It was forty-four million dollars. The queen wished to buy, the ministers likewise, but Parliment was not in session—where do we get the money? A messenger goes to see the head of the house who is busy eating a grape from a bowl in front of him on the desk. He ponders the question...a reported two seconds, spits out a seed and announces, “I shall have them for you tomorrow.” In 1936-37, the canal earned for England a bit over fifty-six percent of it’s cost.

After being elected to commons eleven times, the head of the house was finally seated in 1858 and his oldest son was made a baron in 1885 by Queen Victoria. The family goes on and on—banking, farming, the arts, charity—on an unprecedented scale—hospitals, schools—and what have you.

A large new catholic church was under construction. Near by, one of their large houses was being torn down. The church needed large amounts of marble. The marble from the Jewish house is hauled to the church site and donated for the new Catholic church.

The house, along with Dutch Shell, Standard and one or two more oil companies, is out in front in the exploration for oil and minerals. Millions of acres in the Canadian wilderness are owned by them. They were instrumental in the establishment of Israel as a nation and have supported it for over forty years. Yes, they even built many towns and villages there and also transported thousands of pilgrims to this land.

The money which made the discovery of King Tut’s tomb possible came from one of the female members of the family. She, alone, put up the money to support this expedition.

They have had representatives in the USA for over a hundred years and many great affairs here have been backed by the support of their money.

The democracies have been strongly supported by their financial aid and some of the sons have been crippled and maimed and others have died in the armed forces doing their bit. One, when captured during the last war, stood up to both Goering and Himmler and talked back, yet survived.

A hand full of coins—an idea—courage, hope, work and family solidarity made possible the realization of this—the dreams—of Mayer Amselem Rothschild.


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