Charles F. Erhart (born Karl Erhart; 25 September 1821–1891) was a Kingdom of Württemberg-born businessman who co-founded the American pharmaceutical company Chas. Pfizer & Co. Inc. with Charles Pfizer, his cousin and, later, brother-in-law.

Charles F. Erhart
Karl Erhart

(1821-09-25)September 25, 1821
DiedDecember 27, 1891(1891-12-27) (aged 70)
Years active1849–1891
Known forCo-founder of Pfizer
Frances Pfizer
(m. 1856⁠–⁠1891)

Career edit

Like his cousin, Charles Pfizer, he was born in Ludwigsburg.[1] Three years older than Pfizer, Erhart had mastered the confectioner's trade in his native town, and their skills blended well for the new business they founded together in Brooklyn, New York, in 1849. Chas. Pfizer & Co.[2] produced fine chemicals, specializing in the compounding of chemicals not commonly made in America.

Awards came early to the partners—from the American Institute in 1867 and the Centennial Exposition of 1876 in Philadelphia—whose first product, santonin, neatly combined the skill of Erhart, the confectioner, with that of his cousin, the chemist. The medicine, shaped like a candy cone, blended the bitter santonin with a sugar-cream confection to make it palatable.

Erhart maintained close ties with Germany, returning to his homeland both for social and business reasons. During one trip, Erhart proposed to Fanny Pfizer, the sister of his cousin Charles Pfizer, and then married her in New York in 1856. This union further strengthened the familial ties of the growing business partnership. Erhart's scientific and technical skills were instrumental in bringing about an expanded line of chemicals and a much larger manufacturing plant.

The Company's extensive connections in Europe enabled it to branch out into production of food-processing ingredients. In 1863, Erhart and Pfizer began importing crude argols — the tartar deposits formed in wine casks during the aging process—from France and Italy and set up their own refining operation for the manufacture of tartar and tartaric acid, which was used by bakers, beverage manufacturers, and in cooking. Sales began to climb, and by 1871, revenues of the young company were about $1.4 million.

Erhart died in 1891, at the age of 70. Upon Charles Erhart death, their partnership agreement stipulated that upon the death of one partner, the surviving partner could buy the other's share of the partnership for half its inventory value. Pfizer promptly exercised this option, paying his partner's heirs $119,350 for Erhart's half of the business. However in 1900, Pfizer distributed the stock of the company as follows: Charles Pfizer Jr. (334 shares), Emile Pfizer (333 shares), William Erhart (333 shares).

Family edit

Charles married his cousin, Frances "Fannie" Pfizer, Charles Pfizer's sister, with whom he had at least four children:

  • Clara Wilhelmine Julie Johanna Erhart (1857–1926);[3] married Baron Crafft Truchseß von Wetzhausen [de] in 1906.
  • Carl (1861–1879)
  • Fanny (1865–1941) Married Rudolf August Erbsloh (1858–1931)
  • William (1868–1940), became vice president and co-owner of Chas. Pfizer & Co. Inc. in 1936; William H. Erhart became and remained chairman of the company until his death in July 1940.[4]

References edit

  1. ^ [1] Archived May 10, 2017, at the Wayback Machine "In 1849, a young German chemist, Charles Pfizer, and his cousin Charles Erhart, who had come to America seeking new opportunities, founded the business that bears the Pfizer name."
  2. ^ "Trade catalogs from Chas. Pfizer & Co. Inc". National Museum of American History. Smithsonian. Retrieved November 18, 2020.
  3. ^ Vereinigung des Adels in Bayern e. V. (Hrsg.): Genealogisches Handbuch des in Bayern immatrikulierten Adels, Band XV, Neustadt an der Aisch 1984, p. 452.
  4. ^ "WILLIAM H. ERHART; Board Head of Charles Pfizer & Co., Chemical Manufacturers". THE NEW YORK TIMES. July 31, 1940. Retrieved November 18, 2020.

External links edit