BISCHOFFSHEIM, LOUIS RAPHAEL:
French banker and philanthropist; born in Mayence, Germany, in 1800; died in Paris, Nov. 14, 1873. His father's sudden death, combined with the general upheaval of public affairs that followed the events of 1815, compelled Bischoffsheim to abandon the studies he was pursuing at the gymnasium of his native city and to enter commerce. He found employment as clerk in a banking-house at Frankfort-on-the-Main, and mastered his business so rapidly that at the age of twenty he was director of a bank which he himself had founded in Amsterdam. Ten years later, on the separation of Belgium from Holland, he was appointed consul-general of the former state at Amsterdam.
His business grew so rapidly that he established branch houses in Antwerp (1827), London (1836), and Paris (1846). In 1850 he left Holland, and settled in the French metropolis, where his son Raphael Louis was pursuing his studies at the Ecole Centrale (see Raphael Louis Bischoffsheim). Paris thus became the headquarters of his large banking firm, Bischoffsheim himself undertaking the personal direction of the business.
Interested in every commercial enterprise of importance, and taking part in all the great financial operations of his time, Bischoffsheim soon acquired immense wealth. He financed the great southern railway company, the Compagnie du Chemin de Fer du Midi, and was the founder of the Société Générale, of the Banque des Pays-Bas, of the Crédit Foncier Colonial, of the Franco-Egyptian Bank, and of the Société du Prince Impérial.
A large portion of Bischoffsheim's fortune was devoted to charitable and educational purposes. He was president of the Association Philotechnique and founder of the Athénée. At the latter it was his intention to have entertainments for charitableobjects; but the enterprise failed, and the Athénée finally became an ordinary theater.
- La Grande, Encyclopédie, s.v.;
- Paul Guérin, in Dictionnaire des Dictionnaires, s.v.