Pforzheimer, Carl H.

Pforzheimer, Carl H. (Howard)

(1879–1957) investment banker, book collector, philanthropist; born in New York City. After graduating from New York City College (1896), he opened his own investment firm in 1901; by 1915 he was so successful that he moved to Purchase, N.Y., where he took an active role in Westchester County affairs. Meanwhile, his great passion was English literature and he collected an immense quantity of manuscripts, first editions, journals, letters, and memorabilia. With his wife he established the Carl and Lily Pforzheimer Foundation in the 1930s, which in turn established the Carl H. Pforzheimer Library in New York City; for many years it was in a separate building and open only to select scholars. In 1986, a major segment of his collection—all works of English literature from 1425 to 1700, including the first work printed in English—was put up for sale; it was acquired for $15 million (through the generosity of H. Ross Perot) by the Harry Ransom Humanities Center at the University of Texas: Austin. In 1987, the segment focusing on the English Romantics—particularly Shelley and his circle—was donated to the New York Public Library so that it, too, would be accessible to a broader public.