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F. Konig and Company records

Identifier: MS 0522


This collection contains the records of Frederick Konig's (1771-1853) mercantile firm in Baltimore, Maryland, which imported German goods.


  • 1790-1872


Conditions Governing Access

Open to the public without restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

The reproduction of materials in this collection may be subject to copyright restrictions. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine and satisfy copyright clearances or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections. For more information visit the MCHC’s Rights and Permissions page.

Biographical Note

Frederick Konig was born in Hannover, Germany in 1771 and came to Maryland with his family in the late 1780's. It is believed that Frederick's father August Konig originally started the business and upon his death the firm was taken over by Frederick and his brother Henry in 1790. Henry remained in the firm until 1818 and after this date there is no information on his whereabouts.

From 1818 until 1850 the business was known as F. Konig and Co. After 1850 Konig's nephew Charles F. Mayer [UNK] the business and up to 1853 it is referred to as Mayer and Konig. Frederick dealt in many types of articles but is listed in the Baltimore City Directories as being an importer of German and fancy goods with his place of business being located at 4 North Howard Street. To be more specific, he provided merchandise which could only be afforded by the upper classes of society. Items such as ivory combs, violins, tableware and toys could be purchased at Konig's shop and his correspondence and financial records from 1821-1844 indicate that he was doing a very profitable business.

In December of 1802, Konig married Anna Mayer the daughter of a very prominent and influential man in the City of Baltimore. Anna's brother was Brantz Mayer who would later found and become the second President of the Maryland Historical Society. The Konigs had no children but over the years cared for a number of nieces and nephews of Anna's family.

One of the nephews in their charge was Charles F. Mayer who worked as a clerk in his uncle's firm while still a young boy. He would eventually take over the business when Konig died in 1853 and rename it Mayer and Brother. This firm operated until 1872 when Charles started another business which was engaged in the mining and shipping of coal.

Aside from his livelihood as a businessman, Frederick Konig was also interested in the fields of natural history and science. Box nine of MS. 522 contains a number of scientific papers (c. 1842) that express his interest in a written form.

On August 14, 1853 Frederick Konig died at the home of his nephew Charles Mayer. Two days later a memorial tribute appears in the Baltimore American describing Konig as a well-liked and well-rounded individual. Besides this, Frederick Konig was one of the last of an occupation that would be non-existant by the end of the nineteenth century -- the independent merchant.


6.88 Linear Feet (16 full Hollinger boxes; 1 half Hollinger box)

Language of Materials



Containers 1-9 hold personal and business correspondence which is arranged alphabetically and chronologically. Containers 10-16 are the business records of the firm and these are arranged by month and year. The correspondence section ranges 1790-1872 while the business records span 1798-1853. Bulk dates for both sections are 1821-1844, the most profitable years of Konig's business.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Hamilton Gale, October 1956.

Scope and Contents

The contents of this collection can be divided into two groups:

Correspondence -- Business/ Personal

Business records and related materials

The business correspondence is largely from firms within and outside of the United States which dealt with Konig during the active years of his business. Correspondents here include: David Arts (Hagerstown, Maryland), W.P. Baum (Pittsburgh), James [UNK] (Washington, D.C.), A.F. Dellinger (Cinncinati, Ohio), E and S Frey (Baltimore), D.F. Kalkman (Bremen, Germany), Marshes and Shepard (Sheffield, England), James Mellor (Wheeling, West Virginia), J.W. Seidel (Fuerth, Germany), and Wolff and Hoppe (St. Louis, Missouri).

The nature of this correspondence is mainly for the purchase of goods which Konig offered for sale. A sample of these goods would be as follows: ivory combs, violins and violin accessories, harmonicas, tableware and cutlery, children's toys and numerous other articles which were referred to as fancy goods. With the exception of Marshes and Shepard, D.F. Kalkman and Sons, and J.W. Seidel the firms listed above were all buyers of Konig's goods. The three firms mentioned directly above were ones from which Konig purchased his materials. A more detailed explanation of the firms and the bulk dates for their correspondence will be found in the Series Description.

The second section of the correspondence is made up of a small amount of personal letters from members of the merchant's family. Individuals writing to Konig were: Frederick Benhring (nephew -- Maple Grove, Virginia, fl. 1821-1840), Sophia Kearney

(Konig's sister -- New York, c. 1839), Brantz Mayer (brother-in-law, Baltimore, fl. 1839, 1844), Charles F. Mayer (Nephew, Baltimore, fl. 1839-53). (The above dates are for years of correspondence only.) Added personal correspondence is found in Container 1 of MS. 522. In this container the incoming letters to Charles F. Mayer are found. Mayer's only correspondence is from his cousin and future wife Susan Keim of Reading, Pennsylvania. The letters of Susan Keim are of a highly personal nature. The nature of the other family correspondence is of a monetary nature (i.e. Konig's relatives falling upon hard times). Further studies of family correspondents [UNK] located in the Series Description.

The second group of the collection is the business records of the firm. The contents here are mainly domestic and foreign invoices, shipping, bonds, receipts, and other related materials. The purpose behind these financial documents is to establish a [UNK] record of Konig's profits and losses from 1790 to 1853. These records play an important part towards a better understanding of the manner in which a small business operated during this time and serve as a good indicator for the economic fluctuations of the period.

Using the correspondence and the business records as a whole enables an individual to obtain a full picture of the inner and outer workings of the business community and foreign trade in the United States during the late eighteenth and early middle nineteenth centuries. This is the main scope behind the Konig Papers spanning nearly seventy years and covering a business from beginning to end. The Konig Collection is one of the most complete records on the subject of a small business during this time-period.

Guide to the F. Konig and Company records
Under Revision
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
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Revision Statements

  • 2019-08-02: Manually entered into ArchivesSpace by Mallory Herberger.

Repository Details

Part of the H. Furlong Baldwin Library Repository

H. Furlong Baldwin Library
Maryland Center for History and Culture
610 Park Avenue
Baltimore MD 21201 United States