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HÖNIG, ISRAEL (EDLER VON HÖNIGSBERG):

Austrian tobacco-manufacturer; born at Kuttenplan, Bohemia, Oct., 1724; died at Vienna Jan. 19, 1808. He is noteworthy in the history of the Austrian Jews as the first among them to be ennobled. The son of a poor merchant, he received his early instruction in Bible and Talmud from his father. At the age of thirteen he went to Prague to continue his Talmudic studies, but two years later was obliged to join his father in business. During his business trips in company with his brother Moses he became acquainted with the tobacco industry, which at that time was almost unknown in Austria. In 1752 he was able, with his father and brother, to take over the lease of the tobacco trade of Prague, which lease, under contract with the government, he extended to several Austrian provinces. During the Seven Years' war his firm held the imperial army provision contracts. The empress Maria Theresa rewarded his services by twice granting him letters patent ("Freibriefe"). In conformity with the wish of Emperor Joseph II., Hönig surrendered his contract in 1783, before its expiration, and the emperor then appointed him councilor and "Tabak- und Siegelgefälldirektor," and in the following year "Bankaldirektor." In 1789 the emperor conferred uponhim the patent of hereditary nobility with the title "Edler von Hönigsberg."

Bibliography:
  • Wurzbach, Biog. Lex. des Kaiserthums-Oesterreich, ix. 121 et seq.;
  • Busch, Kalender und Jahrb. für Israeliten auf das Schaltjahr 1848 = 5608, pp. 117 et seq.
S. B. Te.
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