This 3-coloured stamped cover was sent to Messrs. Max Wulfsohn & Co., 109/111 West 27 Street, New York, U.S.A. The 3 stamps are all KGV Head stamps, the 1d red, the green ½d and the 2d brown-orange. There is a roller SYDNEY/ 9-PM/ MY 18/ 1921/ N.S.W. cancel without any slogan and there is a printed boxed return address at Box 959, G.P.O. Sydney. The reverse had a manuscript sender’s name that was illegible, with the address of Bellevue Hill, a suburb of Sydney (Figure 1).

There were 3 archived articles in The New York Times the first published February 15, 1922 boldly headed: ” SOVIET’S CAN’T SUE, BUT MAY BE SUED: Justice Giegerich Rules That Immunity From Suit Is Based on International Comity: FURRIERS CLAIM $800,000: Recent Appellate Decision Held That Unrecognized Government Had No Status in Our Courts.” The lengthy column has been summarized as follows: The Supreme Court Justice (Leonard A). Giegerich decided yesterday that while the Russian Soviet Republic has no authority to maintain an action in the courts of this country, that the U.S. Government may be sued here, and thus he denied an application by Charles Recht, attorney for the Russian Government, to dismiss a suit brought by Max Wulfsohn & Sons, furriers, to recover $800,000. The firm complained that skins purchased abroad by them were seized by the Soviet Government while passing through Russia, consigned to America.

The application for the dismissal of the suit was based on the recent ruling of the Appellate Division dismissing (of another case) on the grounds that the American Government has not recognized the Soviet Government, (for) it has no standing in the U.S. courts. The Justice stated that this does not preclude that the Russian Government can be sued. The immunity of a foreign Government from suit is not based upon any absolute right by virtue of its sovereignty, but upon international comity (‘courtesy between nations’). As there is no international comity between the United States Government and the Russian Socialist Federated Government, it has no claim as to such immunity, but it does not seem that the fact (of no comity) creates any immunity from suit. There was a similar case recently decided in the Supreme Court that the Mexican Government could not maintain a suit here for breach of contract on the purchase of submarine chasers, and the suit was dismissed because the Mexican Government has not been recognized.

There was a follow-up legal case reported in The New York Times published July 1, 1922 headed “FURRIERS SUE SOVIET. Demand $127,935 Damages for Confiscation of Goods”. Suit against the Soviet Government of Russia for $127,935 damages incurred when Bolshevist troops confiscated a shipment of furs at Yakutsk, has been commenced by Max Wulfsohn of Mount Vernon, N.Y., and Samuel Bonis of M. Wulfsohn & Co., furriers, of New York.

This became known yesterday with the return, unfilled, of a warrant signed by Justice Joseph Morschauser of the Supreme Court, directing the sheriff of Broome County in the Endicott-Johnson factories in (sic) Bingramton (Binghampton), N.Y., several thousand pairs of shoes which were reputed to be in the process of manufacture for the Russian Government. There being no goods being manufactured by the Endicott Factories for Russia, the writ was returned and filed with the County Clerk here. This report has been filed as Figure 2.

There was a third report concerning Max Wulfsohn in The New York Times published November 19, 1932 headed: MAX WULFSOHN DIES SUDDENLY IN FLORIDA. First President of American Fur Merchants.

I was surprised that an extensive search of Max Wulfsohn produced no additional information about Max Wulfsohn, the New York furrier and his court cases. Even more surprising, The New York Public Library was unable to supply any information on Max. However the following information was found about Wulfsohn in a digitised book held in the University of California Libraries entitled The Fair Trade of America by A.L. Belden (1917).

“The Raw Fur Merchants’ Association of the City of New York, one of the most important organizations ever called into virile life in the trade, was organized in 1914, and later in the year was duly incorporated under the laws of the State of New York. At a meeting of the Association held June 9, 1914.”

“Application for membership, at the meeting of organization, was signed by the following firms: Jos. Steiner & Brothers, Becker Brothers & Company, Bayer Brothers, H. A. Schoenen, M. F. Pfaelzer & Company, Milton Schreiber, Joseph Ullmann, George I. Fox, F. N. Monjo, James S. Hanson, L. Briefner & Sons, David Blustein & Brother, Leopold Gassner, L. Rabinowitz, Marquis Fur Company, Harry Levy, Max Wulfsohn, J. L. Prouty’s Sons, L. A. Rubenstein Company, M. Sayer & Company, Struck & Bossak, Inc., Samuel Lewis.”

 “Max Wulfsohn, who had for many years been identified with the fur industry of New York, established individually at 63 East Eleventh Street in November, 1904, making a specialty of raw and dressed furs adapted to the known needs of leading manufacturers throughout the country. In 1907 he associated with another in forming an organization, and then engaged warerooms at 91-93 University Place, to conduct a similar business, but with increased attention to the purchase of raw furs for domestic consumption and export. The company was dissolved in November, 1912, at which time Max Wulfsohn secured attractive premises at 122-126 West Twenty-sixth Street, where he independently engaged in the raw fur business under most favorable auspices; as the season progressed he consummated many large transactions with leading merchants at home and abroad. The business has continued to increase in volume, and undoubtedly has a great future. In 1916 the style of the firm was changed to M. Wulfsohn & Company.”

 The frontispiece of the early definitive book on the Fur Trade of America is shown in Figure 3.

Categories: Business, Legal