Dollar, Robert, 1844-1932

Alternative names

Hide Profile


The founder of a vast lumber and shipping empire, Robert Dollar was born in Falkirk, Scotland in 1844. He emigrated to Canada with his father in 1858 and started work as a cook's boy in a lumber camp. By 1866 he was foreman of a camp and, in 1871, bought his first piece of timber land. He continually enlarged his scope of operations, moving first to Michigan, and, in 1888, to California where he opened an office in San Francisco and established his home in San Rafael. By 1893 Dollar had established a mill and lumbering business at Usal in Mendocino County, and shortly thereafter embarked upon his shipping career with the purchase of the steam schooner Newsboy, used to transport lumber to coastal markets. In 1901 he bought his first large steamer. In 1903 he and his three sons -A. Melville, J. Harold, and R. Stanley -incorporated their lumbering and shipping interests into one parent company, The Robert Dollar Company.

Frequent trips to the Far East starting in 1902 convinced Dollar of the need for development of foreign trade across the Pacific. Each year he increased the number of ships carrying lumber and freight to Japan, China, Singapore. etc. He and his wife travelled widely to establish new offices and solicit new business in 1910 the Dollar Steamship Lines was incorporated to control the growing fleet. In 1924 the Round-the-World Dollar Line was established. Other divisions of The Robert Dollar Company included the Dollar Portland Lumber Company, the Admiral Oriental Line, American Mail Line Ltd., Globe Wireless Ltd., Egmont Timber Company, and Heintz and Kaufman Ltd.

Dollar remained active until several weeks before his death in 1932. Control of the company went to his sons. A. Melville Dollar died several weeks after his father and J. Harold Dollar, in 1936. R. Stanley Dollar then headed the company until his death in 1958. Today R. Stanley, Jr., J. Harold, Jr., and Robert Dollar II continue the business which again consists primarily of lumber operations.

From the guide to the Robert Dollar Papers, [ca. 1872-1967], (The Bancroft Library)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn A.F. Haines photograph album, circa 1921-1933 Museum of History & Industry Sophie Frye Bass Library
referencedIn Underwood & Underwood. Robert Dollar photographic portrait, 1925-1932. San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, Maritime Research Center, Maritime Library, Maritime Archives
creatorOf Dollar, Robert, 1844-1932. Robert Dollar papers, [ca.1872-1967]. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Haines, A. F. (Ancil F.), 1872-1937. A.F. Haines photograph album, ca. 1921-1933. Museum of History and Industry
referencedIn Tanaka, Aritoshi, 1901-. San Francisco Examiner photographic print on return of the builder's plate from President Hoover (built 1931; passenger vessel), 1951. San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, Maritime Research Center, Maritime Library, Maritime Archives
creatorOf Shafter, Payne J. Payne J. Shafter papers, 1876-1894. UC Berkeley Libraries
creatorOf Robert Dollar Papers, [ca. 1872-1967] Bancroft Library
referencedIn Robert Dollar Company photographs, 1858-1960 San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park (Calif.).
referencedIn Bertie Charles Forbes Papers, 1892-1964 Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Admiral Oriental Line. corporateBody
associatedWith Dollar, Alexander Melville, 1878-1932. person
associatedWith Dollar, John Harold, 1919- person
associatedWith Dollar, John Harold, 887-1936. person
associatedWith Dollar Portland Lumber Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Dollar, Robert, 1912- person
associatedWith Dollar, Robert Stanley, 1880-1962. person
associatedWith Dollar, Robert Stanley, 1915- person
associatedWith Dollar Steamship Lines. corporateBody
associatedWith Edgemont Timber Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Forbes, B. C. (Bertie Charles), 1880-1954 person
associatedWith Globe Wireless Ltd. corporateBody
associatedWith Haines, A. F. (Ancil F.) person
associatedWith Haines, A. F. (Ancil F.), 1872-1937. person
associatedWith Online Archive of California. corporateBody
associatedWith Robert Dollar Co. corporateBody
associatedWith Robert Dollar Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Shafter, Payne J. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
San Francisco (Calif.)
Northwest, Pacific


Birth 1844

Death 1932



Ark ID: w6f49txp

SNAC ID: 52696361