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PORGES VON PORTHEIM:

Prominent Bohemian family of which the following members won particular distinction:

Joseph Porges, Edler von Portheim: Austrian manufacturer and art patron; born at Prague 1817; died there Sept. 3, 1904; son of Moses Porges von Portheim. On completing his studies at the gymnasium he entered his father's cotton-mills; there he occupied various positions until 1873, when the business was converted into a stock company, of whose board of directors he was president for several years. His leisure time was devoted to literature and music, and he was well known as a violoncello virtuoso. Porges founded the Prague Kammermusikvereins, and was also interested in the Deutsches Theater of that city. His philanthropy was extensive, the Josefstädter Kinderbewahranstalt, founded by his father, being an especial object of his benevolence.

Leopold Judah Porges von Portheim: Bohemian manufacturer, alderman, and director of the Jewish community of Prague; born April 4, 1784; died at Prague Jan. 10, 1869.

Moses Porges, Edler von Portheim: Manufacturer and vice-burgomaster of Prague-Smichow; knight of the Order of Francis Joseph; born Dec. 13, 1781; died at Prague May 21, 1870. He was one of the earliest and most prominent of the large manufacturers of Austria, and was very closely associated with his younger brother, Leopold Judah. Moses and Leopold, the sons of the highly respected but poor Gabriel Porges of the Spira family, experienced adventures in the camp of the sectarian Joseph Frank at Offenburg which have been described by Grätz in his "Frank und die Frankisten" (Breslau, 1868) and his "Gesch." x. (last note), and in greater detail by Dr. S. Back in "Monatsschrift" (1877, pp. 190 et seq.). Disillusioned, they returned to Prague, and began a small linen business, and in 1808 commenced, with a single cotton-printing press and in a dark shop on the Moldau, an industrial activity which was destined later to reach great dimensions.

In 1830 the rapidly growing business was transferred to the suburb of Smichow, where it developed into one of the largest establishments of the Austrian monarchy, and in 1841 the emperor Ferdinand conferred upon the brothers the patent of hereditary nobility with the title "von Portheim," in recognition of the fact that they were the first cotton-manufacturers to employ steam in their works. When this patent had been offered Moses in the previous year, he asked the Oberstburggraf G. V.Chotek for a decree of emancipation of the Jews instead, but this request was not granted. Moses later purchased and operated the porcelain-factory at Chodau together with the mines belonging to it, and after the passage of the laws of 1861 he and his brother entered politics, the latter being elected to the diet, while the former officiated for several years as vice-burgomaster of Prague-Smichow. The most noteworthy among the numerous benefactions of Moses Porges is the still existing crèche, which, without distinction of creed or nationality, for eight months of the year, receives and cares for 150 children daily while their parents are at work.

Bibliography:
  • H. I. Landau, Prager Nekrologe, Prague, 1883;
  • Bohemia, May 23, 1870;
  • Grätz, in Monatsschrift, 1877, pp. 190 et seq.
S. A. Ki.
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