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Henry Harper Benedict, 1844-1935

Nationality: British
Date of Birth: 9 March 1844
Place of Birth: Little Falls, Herkimer, NY


There is a short biography of Henry Harper Benedict, print collector and idustrialist, in 'America's Successful Men of Affairs: An Encyclopedia of Contemporaneous Biography', in the The New York Tribune, 1895-96, starting:

'Henry Harper Benedict was born in German Flats, Herkimer County, N.Y., Oct. 9, 1844. His father, anxious that the boy should receive that scholarly tuition which had been denied to himself, educated Harper at the public schools and at Little Falls Academy and Fairfield Seminary in Herkimer county. Later the young man spent some time at Marshall Institute at Easton, N.Y., and then enjoyed the regular course at Hamilton College, being graduated therefrom in 1869. ...'

Again, according to The New York Tribune, 'In 1867, he married Maria Nellis, daughter of Henry G. Nellis, and granddaughter of General George H. Nellis, of Fort Plain, N.Y. They have one child living, a daughter, fifteen years of age. Their home has been at 116 Willow Street, Brooklyn Heights. Mr. and Mrs. Benedict are members of the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York city, ... but attend the Church of the Pilgrims in Brooklyn, ... Their daughter is a member there. Mr. Benedict is a member of the Hamilton club and Long Island Historical Society in Brooklyn, and of the Grolier, Republican, Delta Kappa Epsilon and Union League Arkwright clubs in New York. ...' The Grolier Club was, of course, a club for print collectors and connoisseurs.

This account in The New York Tribune conflicts in detail with later information, that his wife was Katherine Geddes Benedict. They had one daughter, Margaret (Mrs James Douglass Sharpe), and they inherited Benedict's collection.

The New York Tribune continues 'With characteristic energy he identified himself heartily with the local interests of Ilion ... He helped to organize the First Presbyterian Church there, and served as an elder, trustee and treasurer therein. He was also president of The Herkimer County Bible Society. When The Ilion Literary Association was formed, he became one of its leading spirits, and for many years its president. ... '

Benedict moved to 165 and 167 East 73d Street, New York in 1904. He retired in 1913.


Benedict graduated from Hamilton College with the Class of 1869, and was a generous donor to the college, serving as a trustee from 1897-1935, and funding the Hall of Languages, built in 1897, and a Chapel organ. The college journal describes him as follows : 'One of the pioneers in the manufacturing and marketing of the typewriter, Benedict went to work at E. Remington and Sons in nearby Ilion, N.Y., ... This company not only manufactured arms and agricultural implements but also did piece work for inventors who devised new machines. One such invention, in 1873, was for a typewriter designed by Christopher Latham Sholes. Although the Remington company did not make much progress with the manufacture of the new instrument, Benedict realized its potential.' The article quotes Benedict as saying '"The machine is very crude, but there is an idea there that will revolutionize business ... We must on no account let it get away." ... Benedict and two partners bought the rights to the typewriter and organized a firm to sell the "practical writing machine." The name Remington was retained, and in 1902 the Remington Typewriter Co. was formed with Benedict as president until his retirement in 1913. ' ('Faces Behind the Façades').

In addition, The New York Tribune wrote that: 'Mr. Benedict entered the employment of E. Remington & Sons, manufacturers of rifles and guns at Ilion, N.Y., in a confidential position. He won the respect of his employers at an early period, and showed so much zeal and talent that he was elected in time a director of the corporation of E. Remington & Sons, and treasurer of The Remington Sewing Machine Co. ...

In 1882, having been admitted to membership in the firm of Wyckoff, Seamans & Benedict, he removed to New York city to engage in the sale of Remington typewriters. This remarkable invention made slow progress at first, but, once in practical use among a number of firms, won its way rapidly into public favor. The machine has been advertised with great ingenuity and energy, and its sale is now world-wide. In 1886, the firm purchased the entire typewriter plant of the Remingtons, including all rights and franchises, and have since conducted the manufacture as well as the sale of the machine, attaining a remarkable success.

In 1884, Mr. Benedict made a first trip to Europe in the interest of his firm, and has since been abroad many times, ... his family usually accompanies him. He has had charge of the foreign department of his firm's business ...'

It is not known if he met Whistler. He had bought the watercolour Off the Brittany Coast (M.1042) by 1901 and it is the only work known to have been bought during Whistler's life-time.

The New York Tribune described Benedict as 'A man of refined tastes, he has made a collection of engravings and etchings by the great masters, which is of the highest quality, perhaps unsurpassed by any other of its size anywhere. He also possesses a good library and a collection of oil paintings, mostly by American artists, which, like his prints, represent the several artists at their best. '

Benedict's collection of old master prints and drawings is now scattered. For instance, his impression of Turner's 'Beaumaris, Isle of Anglesea' from the Picturesque Views in England and Wales (1827-38) is in the Tate (T04604).

His contemporary print collection included a substantial group of etchings by Alphonse Legros. Benedict was in touch with Harold Wright of Colnaghi's, who, as well as helping Whistler's sister-in-law, Rosalind Birnie Philip, to list the Whistler estate, was preparing a catalogue of Legros' oeuvre (letters from Benedict and the print dealer David Kennedy to Harold Wright, on 4 and 5 March 1915, discuss Benedict's collection of Legros' etchings; Special Collections Department, GUL MS Wright L58-59 and draft catalogue, MS Wright L437-L440).

Benedict amassed a distinctive collection of Whistler etchings and small works (drawings, pastels and watercolours: M.427, 433, 553, 567, 692, 700, 732, 756, 762, 765, 775, 874, 1042). He was generous on lending them to, for instance, the Whistler Memorial Exhibition in Boston in 1904. He appears to have been particularly interested in sketches and working drawings, and probably bought them rather cheaply. For instance, A portrait study of a lady (M.553) was sold at Christie's on 13 December 1910 for £4 and probably bought for Benedict or acquired by Benedict immediately afterwards. Some came from the collections of T.R.Way and H.S.Theobald in London, but not necessaily directly; the dealers E.G. and David Kennedy were certainly in contact with Benedict. Benedict had several fine Venetian pastels including Calle San Trovaso (M.775); this was with Kennedy in 1907 and was probably sold by him to Benedict.

E. G. Kennedy listed 58 etchings as owned by Benedict in 1910 (K0020101, K0140223, K0170201, K0230201, K0310301, K0470201, K0600110, K0610103, K0660101, K0850101, K0860101, K0950501, K1000201, K1050201, K1070201, K1090201, K1140301, K1140901, K1410301, K1410601, K1440201, K1440301, K1450101, K1450105, K1520201, K1530201, K1660101, K1670301, K1690304, K1730201, K1740201, K1760301, K1840320, K1890201 ,K1960401, K1970201, K1970801, K1980701, K2010401, K2020101, K2020801, K2180401, K2180506, K2310104, K2330401, K2330514, K2460202, K2750101, K2850101, K2870101, K3380102, K3440104, K3560101, K3570101, K3830201, K4030201, K4100601, K4240103.)

At least a further sixteen etchings are now in public collections (K0140223, K0600110, K0610103, K1050201, K1070201, K1450105, K1690304, K1840320, K2180506, K2310104, K2330514, K2460202, K3380102, K3440104, K4030201, K4240103). These include a unique impression of the first state of Venice, touched with grey wash (K2310104) in the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC. In 1920 loans from his print collection were made to an exhibition celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

His wife and daughter inherited his collection, which they described to Coburn when he and Joseph Revillon were attempting to write a catalogue of Whistler's works on paper (24 November 1945, GUL Rev 1955). Some of this collection was auctioned at Sotheby's in 1962-3.


Lugt 1298 and 2936; anon., 'America's Successful Men of Affairs: An Encyclopedia of Contemporaneous Biography', Vol. 1, New York; The New York Tribune, New York, 1895-96, pp. 81-83, quoted in 'Herkimer County NY, Ancestral sightings Part 4', at (accessed 2007.01); New York Times, 8 May 1920, p. 14; auction catalogue, Mrs H. H. Benedict sale, Sotheby's, London, 21 November 1962; The Distinguished Collection of Old Master and Modern Engravings and Etchings of the Late Henry Harper Benedict, auction, Sotheby's, London, 1963; Christopher Gray, 'From Turn of the Century, a Block of Former Stables', New York Times, 20 April 1997 at; anon., 'Faces Behind the Façades', Alumni review, Fall 2006, at (accessed 2007.01); Tate catalogue at (accessed 2007.01).

DID HE MARRY TWICE? ALL THE SAME PERSON? sales, egs of work from his collection. need xrefs.

Children of MICAJAH BENEDICT and CATHARINE HARPER are: ix. HENRY HARPER10 BENEDICT [1551], b. 09 Mar 18441551; d. Unknown; m. MARIA NELLIS [1551], 10 Oct 18671551; d. Unknown. More About HENRY HARPER BENEDICT: Graduation: Hamilton College [1551] Occupation: Professor at Fairfield Seminary, Herkimer County, New York [1551]

x. MARY ADELE BENEDICT [1551], b. 18 Sep 1852 [1551]; d. Unknown.

xi. ELLEN FRANCES BENEDICT [1551], b. 13 Nov 1855 [1551]; d. Unknown. all this info from note 1551 which is Henry Marvin Benedict, The Genealogy of the Benedicts in America, (Joel Munsell, 82 State Street, Albany, NY, 1870), page 342. and is cited at (accessed 2007.01