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Identifier: MC 1510

Christopher Landau Papers


  • Majority of material found within 1821-1869

Scope and Content Note

Prussian born Christopher Landau (1786-1869) is responsible for this collection of receipts. Almost half of these were generated by his business--a bakery in N.Y.C. from 1821-36 and a bakery and later combination dry goods store in Bloomfield NJ from 1847-67, The rest of the receipts document Landau's household expenses, medical costs, taxes, building and maintenance costs, farming activities, rental income, debt servicing, German Newspaper subscriptions and church pew rentals. A small number of legal documents include building and rental agreements.

The receipt trail leads furthest back to Landau's days as an immigrant baker in the early twenties. Flour dominated his life. Landua seems to have been baking mostly the rye-based German variety of bread in a rented bakery, located quaintly enough at 123 Baker Street. -By the time·her purchased his own shop at 311 Delancy Street. and had a house built at 38 Lewis $tr. in the late twenties, he was already baking mostly wheat-based anglo bread. It is difficult to ascertain whether Landau was already purviewing any dry goods while in NYC. This would not be out of character though. The descriptions on the rental agreements reveal Landau' s determination to rent out a varied and imaginative combination of floor space.

Sometime between 1836-1837, Christopher Landau the baker retired and moved his family across the Hudson to that preparatory school haven, Bloomfield, NJ. Landau, now 50 plus, must have done well for himself. Be-tween the years 1837-47 when Landau took retirement seriously, his wife I Ann was busy buying the nice things of life. Christopher's own indulgences (his tailor bills) only began to arrive with unrelenting regularity in the 18601s when he had retired for good. For in 1847, Landau aged 59, rented a "bakehouse" on Remington Street. and began ordering professional amounts of fl-our and coal, though not at NYC levels. By the time he had bought his own place on the Pompton- Neward turnpike (later Bloomfield Ave.) in 1858, he had already diversified into retail. In 1850, 64 year old Landau's $2,000 of declared personal estate might have looked good against a fellow 68 year old baker's declared worth of $1,600, but Landau, unlike the latter, still had a family of five at home to support. His three children (ages seven--fourteen) went through many pairs of shoes and tutors. Thus while Landau had declared no profession in 1850, he could proudly declare his status as a retired merchant in 1860. Other Germans had made the difference.

In 1850, except for a smattering of German farm hands, there were few of Landau's countrymen in Bloomfield. By 1860, the demographic picture had been altered radically. Fully two-fifths of all Bloomfielders new were from one of the many German digdons and most of these were skilled crafts-men with some disposable income. And so by 1860, "retired merchant" Landau had made it. Although his $3,700 real estate was about average, the $6,000 he had amassed in personal estate was well over five times the Bloomfield norm. What merchant Landau had apparently done was fill the void between the considerable German demand and what the Bloomfield retailers could offer.

Landau was voted to the board of trustees of the Baptist Church and visited the tailor often. In 1860, his son William (age 21) already paid for his own shoes as he presumably worked in his father's shop as bookkeeper; Sarah's (age 17) music lessons were the only tuition left to pay. So what possibly began as a family related move from NYC to NJ to enroll the oldest daughter Carolyn in a respectable school ("but twelve miles from the city" as it billed itself), ended as a prudent business move.

This collection of receipts is grouped both chronologically and topic-ally. Owing to the volume of business, household and building receipts, these types are grouped chronologically in manageable increments. The rest of the receipts are grouped topically. It is difficult to ascertain household and business activity exclusivity and so the receipts were discriminated by merchant type and volume. Because building material and labor costs, as well as service costs in general, were difficult to differentiate, these were combined. The same holds true for the farming and feed related services and fees. Taxes, eebts, church fees, insurance annuities, tuition fees, in contrast, all present distinct categories.


0.33 cubic feet (1 manuscript box)

Language of Materials


Inventory to the Christopher Landau Papers
Edited Full Draft
Michael Lenhart
January 1987
Language of description note
Finding aid is written in English.
Special Collections and University Archives, Rutgers University received an operating support grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State.