Financial History Issue 125 (Spring 2018) - Page 36

and former broker at Gerstley , Sunstein & Co ., to buy Granbery , Marache around this time . A New York native , Lifton graduated from the Baruch School of the City College of New York and Yale Law School . He made his name in real estate syndication and as an entrepreneur . Jay Pritzker , who was the son of a prominent Chicago lawyer , was also a successful entrepreneur and the founder of the Hyatt Hotel chain .
Although the new owners do not appear to have had ties to the original Blair firm , in many ways , their investment signified a return to the entrepreneurial model of the first Blair partnership and the acquisition of the firm by A . O . Stewart during the Great Depression . According to Lifton , he , Pritzker and others bought the firm , after which they installed Lendman as the head . When Blair & Co ., Granbery , Marache , Inc . celebrated its 75th anniversary in 1965 , Marache Sr . became president emeritus and was succeeded by William M . Lendman .
Merger announcement introducing Blair & Co ., Granbery , Marache , which was published in The Morning News ( Wilmington , DE ) on November 4 , 1963 .
In 1966 , during Lendman ’ s tenure , the firm changed its name back to Blair & Co ., Inc ., the third time in its history that it reverted back to its original name . By 1967 , the firm had grown to 25 offices . The following year , during the height of the paperwork crisis on Wall Street , Blair began to acquire the offices of troubled firms . In December 1968 , Blair & Co . took over the 15 offices of Schwabacher & Co ., a San Francisco brokerage house that was reorganized as Blair ’ s West Coast division . At that time , Blair restructured and created an “ office of the president .” In addition to Lendman , the other president was James Basil Ramsey Jr ., a Tennessee native whose father was a bank president .
Then , within a very short period of time , Blair & Co . ran into trouble . During the bear market that followed the paperwork crisis on Wall Street , Blair & Co . found itself short of capital , reportedly experiencing operating difficulties created by the Schwabacher & Co . merger as well . According to Robert K . Lifton , Lendman was still at the firm when the officers “ concluded that the company should discontinue operations because success required that the New York Stock Exchange reach a trading volume that they thought was not attainable .” Newspaper reports indicate that Lendman resigned from the firm in 1969 , and Ramsey Jr . was elected president and CEO . Vanderbilt remained chairman of the board , but he left in 1970 .
By August 1970 , Blair & Co . sold 14 of its offices to Thomson & McKinnon Auchincloss , Inc . in a distress sale , including the western branches acquired in the Schwabacher & Co . merger . The New York Times reported that Blair ’ s problems were “ believed to be among the worst on Wall Street .” Ramsey Jr . joined Thomson McKinnon Securities as senior vice president .
In a relatively short period of time , the financial position of the Blair firm became irreparably compromised , and the firm shut down . In what the Associated Press called a “ traumatic year for [ the ] stock market ,” Blair & Co . became one of “ a number of brokerage firms [ that ] had dissolved , liquidated or were in the process of liquidating .” According to the Courier- Post , “ Blair had 29,000 customer accounts on its books when the New York Stock Exchange stepped in to liquidate it [ in September 1970 ].” With the liquidation , the history of Blair & Co . came to an end .
Susie J . Pak is an Associate Professor in the Department of History at St . John ’ s University ( New York ). A graduate of Dartmouth College and Cornell University , she is the author of Gentlemen Bankers : The World of J . P . Morgan ( Harvard University Press ), a Trustee of the Business History Conference , co-chair of the Columbia University Economic History Seminar and a member of the editorial advisory board of the Business History Review . She is also a member of the Financial History editorial board .
Editor ’ s note : Special thanks to Jeanette Iurato , curator of the Blairstown Museum ( www . blairstownmuseum . com ) in Blairstown , New Jersey , for her assistance with this article .
34 FINANCIAL HISTORY | Spring 2018 | www . MoAF . org