Scarce Autograph Letter Signed by 19th-Century New York City Real Estate Developer about Charity for “Old Merchants”

Signed by Amos Eno

Item: 19589
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ENO, AMOS. (1810-1898). Wealthy and influential 19th-century real estate developer. ALS. (“Amos R. Eno”). 1p. 8vo. New York, November 11, 1882. To George Bliss.

“I have heard said that among the numerous charities in which this city abounds, that no sufficient provision has been made for the unfortunate old merchants of New York. If that is so ought not something be done? Will you kindly favor me with your views and oblige…”

A successful dry goods merchant, Eno invested his profits in New York City real estate. Among his many successful ventures was the construction of the Fifth Avenue Hotel, located on Fifth Avenue and 23rd Street, across from Madison Square. At the time of its construction in the late 1850s, the neighborhood was so far north that New York bankers refused to finance the project and it was dubbed “Eno’s Folly.” However, Eno’s business acumen was acknowledged after the hotel quickly became not only a financial success but New York City’s social center. It also served as the headquarters for Eno’s Second National Bank of New York. In 1884, his son John embezzled millions of dollars from the bank that led to a panic and a run on the institution. Amos Eno covered every demand for payment, but largely retired from business after the affair.

The identity of the recipient is unclear but some possibilities include New York attorney Colonel George Bliss (1830-1897), who served in the Civil War as New York’s paymaster, attaining the rank of colonel before becoming a successful New York district attorney. He is noted for his conversion to Catholicism and was honored by Pope Leo XIII in 1895. George Bliss (1816-1896) was a banker and partner in the important firms of Morton, Bliss & Co. and Phelps, Dodge & Co. His son George T. Bliss (ca. 1851-1901) followed in his footsteps. Both were wealthy individuals and the younger Bliss’ wife and daughter were noted for their involvement in such charitable endeavors as the Welfare Council of New York City.

Written in Eno’s minute hand on a sheet of paper with an irregular right edge. Folded with some very minor paper loss around the edges. In very good condition. Scarce.

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