after arriving in America, Caspar Biele started a business manufacturing
cases. His son Charles
F Biele joined Caspar's showcase business and took over after
Caspar's death in 1875. Working with his brothers and later his sons,
Charles F grew the business into a premier showcase, metal working, and mouldings
company. The business later known as Charles F. Biele and Sons
manufactured custom showcases for the top museums and private collections
of the day. A New York Sun article from 1938
provides a great description of the business. Examples of the company's
correspondence including letterhead
from museum archives and an engraved
envelope bought at auction, provide additional insight into the
first business address for the family is in 1871 at 59 Canal with a single
listing for Caspar Biele with occupation as "cases". This
was near Caspar's residence on Rivington Street in the lower East Side on
Manhattan in New York City. From 1872 until 1876 (just after
Caspar's death), the business address was 219 Centre.
1880, Charles F is listed with an occupation of "cases" at 112
West Broadway, in 1885 and 1890 at 42 West Broadway and in 1895 at 143
West Broadway. His brother Emil is also listed as being in the cases
business in 1885 and 1890 at the 42 W. Broadway address. In 1890
there is also a listing for a "C. F. & E" company at 45 West
Broadway. The engraved envelope
from 1893 lists the address as 45 & 47 West Broadway and the business
"C. F. & E. Biele".
the New York City Directory for
these and other Biele business and residential listings)
1898, the business moved to 379-381 West 12th Street and 120 Jane in the
Greenwich Village area of New York City and remained there for the next 28
years. During this period, Charles F was joined in the business by
his sons Carl and Eduard. In 1910, the company was incorporated in
the state of New York as "Charles F. Biele & Sons Co."
Charles F. was the President and Treasurer of the company, Carl the Vice
President, and Eduard the Secretary. Ewald (Charles F's youngest
brother) is listed as a foreman or superintendent for the business from
1895 to 1910.
the 1926, after a fire, the business moved to its final location at 33-39
Bethune Avenue just a block over from the prior location. 33-37
Bethune, a large commercial building, housed the operations and 39
Bethune, an adjoining townhouse, housed the offices. (Both
structures survive to this day. 33-37 Bethune later housed a
business known as Pickwick Papers and was finally converted into
residential lofts called Pickwick House. 39 Bethune is now a
residential townhouse. 39 Bethune was also the fictional residence of the
villainess in the best selling fictional novel "The Angel of Darkness"
by Caleb Carr.
F. led the business until his death in 1930. Carl then became
President and Eduard the Vice President. Other family members also
worked in the business at various times including Carl's' son Charles and
Eduard's son Edward.
left the business in 1938 and after
enduring the hardships of the Great Depression, the business went under in the early 1940's.
Carl is listed as President on the 1943 papers of dissolution.
Notable customers included (hyperlinks to
pages with more details):
Albright Galley, Buffalo, New York - Charles F.
Biele and Sons did at least one custom display case for the gallery in 1934
American Museum of Natural History, New York City
American Numismatic Society - A
2003 article in the ANS
magazine references correspondence I had with them. I bought an
envelope at auction that was sent by CFB and
Sons to ANS.
Cunard Lines - Charles F. Biele and Sons built a
case to house a model of the RMS Majestic for the Cunard building in New
Katherine Dreier - Charles F. Biele
made at least two cases in 1936 to Ms. Dreier, an artist and art collector.
Charles Lang Freer -
Metropolitan Museum, New York City
The Rockefeller family
- Charles F. Biele and Sons did work for the Rockefeller Family, most
extensively at John D. Rockefeller Jr.'s apartment at 740 Park Avenue from 1937 to
Jacques Seligmann and Company - Charles
F Biele and Sons did business with the New York City office of this famed
Smithsonian, Washington DC
St. Regis Hotel, New York City - Charles F. Biele and Sons executed an Anna
Tiffany design for a new bar in the King Cole Room
Arthur Wendell - Charles F. Biele and Sons made at least two display cases for Arthur R.
Wendell. The first in 1911 and the second in 1915.