David L. Neuhauser, (1869-1941)
David Loeb Neuhauser was born in Jászberény, Hungary in 1869. By 1877 at the age of 7 he immigrated to Chicago and became a citizen in 1892.
First mention of the name D. L Neuhauser was in the Chicago directories of 1891 where he is listed offering services re-silvering of mirrors. Seeking to expand his business, in 1896 he advertised for additional funding of $2000 along with which came a partnership. The partner was likely to have been Louis Chase, also Hungarian, who later was to become Neuhauser’s brother-in-law. By 1901, they were now manufacturing mirrors at 226 E. Washington Street. Production expanded into the manufacture of gas mantles. They advertised for sales people but it's not clear whether this was ever successful. Regardless, they continued on with small, but regularly placed advertising in the press.
By 1907, their business had continued to grow and a better picture of their lighting products became clear with the appearance of an advertisement in the November edition of the trade journal Electrical Record. Manufacture was now being done in larger premises, 242-248 South Water Street. While we have yet to discover the full breadth of their offerings, the stained glass lighting in the advertisement was right in line with some of their peers, both in Chicago and New York. This advertisement in a trade journal was perhaps to identify with those peer companies, Suess, Williamson and Unique, as they too took to the trade journals to attract wholesale customers. Advertising was to continue for at least another 7 years and numerous ads appeared in the Chicago papers promoting their rock bottom pricing and humble second floor, walk-up, manufacturing facility.
The 1907 advertisement showed they were not above adapting designs similar in style to those of some of their peers. Two overlay styled portables are featured that draw heavily from those offered by Apollo, Riviere Studios and Tiffany. At first glance, the floral bordered electrolier has much in common with those made by other companies. However, as luck would have it, a pristine example of this fixture has surfaced sporting some of the finest glass to be seen by Midwest companies..
1909 was to be a busy year. The company became members of the Ornamental Glass Manufacturers Association. The association's intent was to forge agreement on common stained glass window patterns and agree on universal pricing of these offerings. Neuhauser's membership in this organization indicated that were already manufacturing windows or intended to be.
Manufacture continued in the South Water Street premises and by July of 1909 the company was very well established employing between 50 and 60 employees.
In that summer of 1909 Neuhauser was expanding once again, this time in a big way. Additional research has turned up surprising evidence that Neuhauser did in fact make at least some of his glass. This was almost unheard of especially for a relatively small company making leaded glass lighting and signals perhaps that Neuhauser was both details oriented and ambitious in nature. To date, only Tiffany Studios comes to mind for the in-house manufacture of their glass.
In June of 1909 Neuhauser incorporated his Chicago lighting business by raising $80,000 of investment to rejuvenate a failed glass plant in Indiana. This colossal sum translates to around a $2.3m investment today. The Chicago Flint and Lime Company were initially financed by Chicago business partners in 1901. It started operating in 1902 with a staff of 102 workers. Labor disputes with the union were common and by 1905 only 51 workers remained and production was closed indefinitely.
The incorporators were Neuhauser himself, Sidney W. Karger and Leon S. Alschuler, a lawyer. The business, still listed under the name D. L. Neuhauser, stated their purpose was the manufacture of glass and metal goods. Claims in some of their advertising “We make everything we sell” was clearly not an empty slogan. According to a July 1909 report in The Chanute Daily Tribune of Kansas, “D. L. Neuhauser Co., Chicago will make a line of iridescent glass for lighting purposes, novelty goods etc”.
Neuhauser filed a patent in 1910, and granted 2 years later, for a device used to shape glass. This method was certainly developed and perfected at the glass plant and was employed to impress predetermined patterns in molten glass at the time it was rolled out.
The glass plant survived but within the next year, Neuhauser was in Toledo Ohio, at the headquarters of the American Flint Glass Workers’ Union, where he presented a proposal. In summary, he was reaching out to the Union for workers to join with him in a new cooperative at the Chesterton plant. The proposal sought an initial combined investment of $5000 from managers as an inducement to share in the venture. This initiative suggests that the plant had an existing lack of management skills. To spur confidence that both the proposal and Neuhauser’s business was sound, an audited financial appraisal was made public during the presentation.
That this Neuhauser balance sheet survives today is most fortunate. It shows that in 1908, considered the peak year for stained glass lighting, Neuhauser sales are listed at over $60,000 so clearly they were successful at this point. However, the proposal failed to gather interest leaving the plant to struggle. In 1911, a large explosion at the plant appeared to be the last straw and Neuhauser closed the plant down permanently. D. L. Neuhauser declared bankruptcy during 1911.
The following year, 1912, a new company, Jenes Manufacturing enters the picture, incorporated at 140 S. Wabash Avenue making Art brass products. The incorporators were Harry B. Silverberg (Salesman), H. J. Rosenburg and L B Perlman. With a $10,000 investment, the investors bought the remaining inventory and assets following D. L. Neuhauser’s bankruptcy. Within a year after their opening, Jenes Manufacturing also declared bankruptcy.
While we have no evidence that Neuhauser was associated with Jenes, it is extremely likely because of their Art Brass manufacture and the 140 S. Wabash premises that Neuhauser occupied after Jenes’s bankruptcy in 1913, Neuhauser started business once again at these same premises on S. Wabash, naming his business D. L. Neuhauser’s Art Shop. Once again he manufactured and sold direct to customers at rock bottom prices. However, margins were no doubt insufficient to sustain the business leading to its eventual demise. No further records of the company have been found after its last advertisement in January of 1914.
David Neuhauser continued to work in the glass industry until at least 1930 where the census shows him as a superintendent. David Neuhauser died in March of 1941. The 1930 census shows Neuhauser’s son Jack also working in the glass industry as a designer and salesman at an art glass company. In the 30s and 40s he was working with Commonwealth Ed.
Examples of Neuhauser’s lamps are no doubt among us but identification is difficult at best and examples, so far, are few. The crown of the electrolier in the 1907 advertisement is similar to others made by independent suppliers but with subtle differences. This particular style is reminiscent of the glass crowns from Bent Glass Novelty of New York had it not been for the presence of the fixture in the Neuhauser advertisement. The glass in this particular example is extraordinarily thin and of wonderful quality. Examples we have seen so far have flat strap rims.
One key visual styling element in certain models is the presence of the square glass tiles that run around the shoulder on certain of these floral hangers. So far these square tiles appear to be unique among tall skirted chandeliers. So far, only one portable, described later, has these. The form profile is consistent too and it even extends to the portable.
While we have yet to find evidence that Neuhauser made all of their hardware, one lamp base has appeared with an embossed signature. Several examples of their bronze Art Nouveau base, also featured in the center of the advertisement, have recently surfaced. The base works in conjunction with a 4-hole plate soldered into the ring of their leaded shade portables. Over time, on certain examples of these shades, the plate has been removed in order to accommodate bases by other makers. So the appearance of the 4-hole plate in portable shades points to Neuhauser manufacture.
Neuhauser Assets & Liabilities, 1909