Lewis, John Frederick, 1860-1932

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John Frederick Lewis was a Philadelphia lawyer, philanthropist, and collector of writing samples. He donated three collections to the Free Library of Philadelphia. In addition to his collection of autographs of engravers, he also donated a collection of cuneiform tablets and an oriental manuscript collection. The engravers in this collection range from the obscure to the relatively well-known. Presidents and members of the Society of Engravers are represented, most notably the first president Francesco Bartolozzi, and later president John Samuel Agar. The engraver and art dealer R. H. Cromek, who has become known as William Blake's nemesis, is also well-represented in this collection.

From the description of The John Frederick Lewis collection of autographs of engravers, 1721-1914, bulk 1775-1850. (Free Library of Philadelphia). WorldCat record id: 84338811

John Frederick Lewis was a lawyer, philanthropist, and patron of the arts. He was elected to the American Philosophical Society in 1909.

From the description of Papers, 1878-1932. (American Philosophical Society Library). WorldCat record id: 122474076

From the guide to the John Frederick Lewis papers, 1878-1932, 1878-1932, (American Philosophical Society)

John Frederick Lewis (1860-1932) was a prominent Philadelphia lawyer and philanthropist widely active in the business, philanthropic, and cultural circles of the city as well as a respected collector of rare books and fine art.

From the description of John Frederick Lewis papers, 1882-1932 (bulk 1909-1928). (University of Delaware Library). WorldCat record id: 605900811

John Frederick Lewis was a Philadelphia lawyer, philanthropist, and collector of writing samples. He donated several collections to the Free Library of Philadelphia. In addition to his collection of autographs of engravers, he also donated a collection of cuneiform tablets, an oriental manuscript collection, and many of the Free Library's medieval manuscripts. The engravers in this collection range from the obscure to the relatively well-known. Presidents and members of the Society of Engravers are represented, most notably the first president Francesco Bartolozzi, and later president John Samuel Agar. The engraver and art dealer R. H. Cromek, who has become known as William Blake's nemesis, is also well-represented in this collection.

From the guide to the John Frederick Lewis collection of autographs of engravers, Bulk, 1775-1850, 1721-1914, (Free Library of Philadelphia: Rare Book Department)

John Frederick Lewis (1860–1932) was a prominent Philadelphia lawyer and philanthropist widely active in the business, philanthropic, and cultural circles of the city as well as a respected collector of rare books and fine art. Born in Philadelphia to S. Weir and Caroline Kalbfus Lewis, Lewis graduated from Central High School in 1879, studied law under the Hon. George M. Dallas, and was admitted to the Pennsylvania bar in 1882. In 1925, Lewis received the A.M. and LL.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. At first, Lewis was associated with Charles Gibbons, but eventually formed a partnership with Francis C. Adler and Francis S. Laws. The firm of Lewis, Adler & Laws acted as solicitor for the Philadelphia Bourse and the Philadelphia Maritime Commission. Many of the cases handled by Lewis involved collisions of ships and disputes arising over shipping cargoes. As an attorney who was knowledgeable in corporate financial affairs, Lewis served on the boards of several companies: as Director of the Farmers' and Mechanics' National Bank; as Vice-President of the Merchants Trust Company; and as President of the Malvern Electric Light, Heat and Power Company. He was an active member of the Law Association of Philadelphia and the Law Academy, and was a regular guest lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

The philanthropic interests of John Frederick Lewis were widely known. He was an active member of St. John's Lutheran Church and also was involved with the Young Peoples' Lutheran Association. He long supported the Pennsylvania Institute for the Deaf and Dumb, serving as Secretary of that institution for a period of time. The entire Lewis family was interested in charitable organizations and was often solicited for donations and sponsorship.

As a respected collector of rare books and fine art, Lewis assembled a noted collection of portraits of prominent men in American history. Lewis was particularly interested in portraits of George Washington and donated a number of likenesses of the first president to various Philadelphia schools and libraries. The book Collection of John Frederick Lewis American Portraits: Presented to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and Other Institutionsbook Collection (1934) provides illustrations and descriptions of many of the portraits that Lewis owned.

Another collection reflected Lewis's literary interests: his study of early forms of writing and books led Lewis to collect cuneiform tablets and cones, as well as European and Oriental manuscripts. Lewis was often asked to give talks to art classes at the University of Pennsylvania and other art groups in the city on topics such as oriental art.

Like his portrait collection, most of Lewis' collections were donated to Philadelphia museums and libraries. Lewis and his wife donated more that 2,800 clay tablets, dating from 3,000 B.C. to 300 B.C., to the Rare Book Department of the Free Library of Philadelphia. After her husband's death, Mrs. Lewis donated the collection of European and Oriental manuscripts to the same institution.

The knowledge gained while assembling his private collections led to prominent positions for Lewis with several of the city's cultural institutions. Among the many offices he held during his lifetime, Lewis served as President of the American Academy of Music, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and the Art Jury of Philadelphia; he served on the Board of Trustees of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and the Free Library of Philadelphia; and acted as Secretary of the Board of Managers of the Apprentices' Library of Philadelphia.

Because of his leadership in the business, philanthropic, and cultural circles of the city, Lewis was invited to be a member of a number of quasi-public advisory councils to several mayors and his opinions on current issues were solicited by the publishers of The Ledger, a Philadelphia newspaper.

In addition to his affiliations with the cultural institutions of the city, Lewis belonged to a number of social and special interest clubs, a few of which were The Wistar Party, The History Club, The Genealogical Society, The Ice Skating Club and Humane Society (of which he served as President). Lewis was a thirty-third degree Mason.

The wide-ranging interests of John Frederick Lewis were the subjects of several books he authored. An examination of the early history of the city, The History Of An Old Philadelphia Land Title, 208 South Fourth Street was a book begun by his father and completed by Lewis in 1934. His interest in the Apprentices' Library was demonstrated by his book History of the Apprentices' Library of Philadelphia, 1820-1920, the Oldest Free Circulating Library in America . Finally, Lewis's interest in city planning led him to undertake an examination of The Redemption of the Lower Schuylkill: the River As It Was, The River As It is, The River As It Should Be . To mark the occasion of his fiftieth anniversary as a member of the Pennsylvania Bar, Lewis wrote a book entitled Thomas Spry, Lawyer and Physician, about the first attorney admitted to practice English Law in the middle colonies.

Considered a gifted and entertaining orator, Lewis was often asked to speak at public events; several public talks were later published. At the dedication of the new Bourse building in 1895, Lewis delivered a speech entitled Philadelphia--A Short Oration . One of his speeches is included in John Marshall and Philadelphia: Dedication Exercises At The Statue of John Marshall, Art Museum, West Entrance, January 7th, 1930 .

John Frederick Lewis had two brothers, Louis (a minister) and Howard; Howard was also an attorney in the city and active in many of the same financial and cultural institutions as his brother, John. Howard also served as President of the Atheneum. John Frederick Lewis married Anne H. Rush Baker Lewis in 1895. The Lewises had two sons: Alfred Gustavus Baker and John Frederick, Jr., both of whom became attorneys. In the 1920s, both joined the law firm of Lewis, Adler & Laws.

Collection of John Frederick Lewis American Portraits: Presented to The Pennsylvania Academy of The Fine Arts And Other Institutions. Philadelphia: The Academy of Fine Arts, 1934. Exercises at the Opening of the Main Building of The Free Library of Philadelphia Facing Logan Square. Philadelphia: The Free Library of Philadelphia. 1927. In This Academy: The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 1805-1976. A Special Bicentennial Exhibition. [Philadelphia]: The Academy. 1976. Sketch of the Wistar Party of Philadelphia. Being a reprint of the edition of 1846 with a continuation to the present. Philadelphia: [Printed for the members only]. 1898. Korey, Marie E. The Rare Book Department of The Free Library of Philadelphia. [Philadelphia]: The Free Library of Philadelphia. [1989]. Lewis, John Frederick. The History Of An Old Philadelphia Land Title, 208 South Fourth Street. Philadelphia: [Printed by Patterson & White Company], 1934. -------. History Of The Apprentices' Library of Philadelphia, 1820-1920, The Oldest Free Circulating library In America. Philadelphia, 1924. -------. Philadelphia: A Short Oration at the Dedication of the Philadelphia Bourse, December 31, 1895. Philadelphia: Burk & McFetridge, 1896. -------. The Redemption Of The Lower Schuylkill: The River As It Was, The River As It Is, The River As It Should Be. Philadelphia: City Parks Association, 1924. -------. Thomas Spry, Lawyer and Physician. Philadelphia, 1932. Philadelphia Bar Association. John Marshall and Philadelphia: Dedication Exercises At The Statue of John Marshall, Art Museum, West Entrance, January 7th, 1930. Philadelphia, 1930.

From the guide to the John Frederick Lewis papers, 1882–1932, 1909–1928, (University of Delaware Library - Special Collections)

Lawyer, art collector; Philadelphia, Penn.

Served on the boards of many Philadelphia arts organizations, including the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the Art Jury of Philadelphia.

From the description of John Frederick Lewis selected letters, 1903-1929. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122565988

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Lewis, John Frederick, 1860-1932. John Frederick Lewis papers, 1882-1932 (bulk 1909-1928). University of Delaware Library, Hugh M Morris Library
creatorOf Lewis, John Frederick, 1860-1932. [John Frederick Lewis collection of cuneiform tablets] Free Library of Philadelphia, Parkway Central Library
creatorOf John Frederick Lewis papers, 1882–1932, 1909–1928 University of Delaware Library - Special Collections
creatorOf Lewis, John Frederick, 1860-1932. [John Frederick Lewis portrait collection] -- 1750-1942. Free Library of Philadelphia, Parkway Central Library
referencedIn Vol. III. 1860.includes:f. 2 Jane Ferraro, wife of the Marquis de La Marmora: Letter to Griffin and Co.: 1860. f. 3 Alfonso Ferraro, Marquis de La Marmora: Biographical notice of: 1860. ff. 5, 8 M-E-Lamaartine, wife of Alphonse de Lamartine: Lett..., 1860 British Library
creatorOf Yāfiʻī, ʻAbd Allāh ibn Asʻad, d. 1367. 880-03 Kitāb Rawḍ al-rayāḥīn fī ḥikāyāt al-ṣāliḥīn, 1402. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
creatorOf Bager, Henry. 19th and 20th century Philadelphia business records, 1810-1919. Temple University Libraries, Paley Library
referencedIn American Philosophical Society Archives. Record Group IIj, 1898-1988 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Norris, [?], Doctor,. Correspondence from Maxwell Struthers Burt, 1951. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
referencedIn Philadelphia Bourse (Philadelphia, Pa.). Papers, 1891-1900. Historical Society of Pennsylvania
creatorOf Lewis, John Frederick, 1860-1932. Papers, 1878-1932. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn Philadelphia Bourse (Philadelphia, Pa.). Records, 1891-1922. Temple University Libraries, Paley Library
creatorOf Lewis, John Frederick, 1860-1932,. 880-02 Kitāb al-Ṭabaqāt, n.d. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
creatorOf Lewis, John Frederick, 1860-1932. The John Frederick Lewis collection of autographs of engravers, 1721-1914, bulk 1775-1850. Free Library of Philadelphia, Parkway Central Library
creatorOf Lewis, John Frederick, 1860-1932. Correspondence with Arthur H. Lea, 1909-1912. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
referencedIn John L. (John Lawrence) LeConte papers, 1812-1897, 1812-1897 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Lewis, John Frederick, 1860-1932. John Frederick Lewis selected letters, 1903-1929. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf John Frederick Lewis papers, 1878-1932, 1878-1932 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf John Frederick Lewis collection of autographs of engravers, Bulk, 1775-1850, 1721-1914 Free Library of Philadelphia: Rare Book Department
creatorOf Lewis, John Frederick, 1860-1932,. 880-02 Kitāb Qiṣṣat Sayyidinā Yūsuf, n.d. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
creatorOf Darwīsh, Muḥammad Ādīb ibn Muḥammad. 880-02 Bahjat al-Manāzil, 1806. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Direct Relationships
Relation Name
associatedWith Agar, John Samuel, ca. 1773-1858 person
associatedWith American Philosophical Society. corporateBody
associatedWith Angus, William, 1752-1821 person
associatedWith Arrowsmith, Aaron, 1750-1823 person
associatedWith Barnes, Albert C. (Albert Coombs), 1872-1951. person
associatedWith Basire, James, 1730-1802 person
associatedWith Beaux, Cecilia, 1855-1942. person
associatedWith Bromley, William, 1769-1842. person
associatedWith Burnet, John, 1784-1868 person
associatedWith Byrne, John, 1786-1847 person
associatedWith Byrne, William, 1743-1805 person
associatedWith Cooke, George, 1781-1834 person
associatedWith Cooke, William Bernard, 1778-1855 person
associatedWith Cook, John William person
associatedWith Cooper, Robert person
associatedWith Cromek, R. H. (Robert Hartley), 1770-1812. person
associatedWith Daniell, William, 1769-1837 person
associatedWith Darwīsh, Muḥammad Ādīb ibn Muḥammad. person
associatedWith Du Roveray, Francis Isaac, 1772-1849. person
associatedWith Engleheart, Francis, 1775-1849 person
associatedWith Evans, William person
associatedWith Facius, Johann Gottlieb, b. ca. 1750 person
associatedWith Fittler, James, 1758-1835 person
associatedWith Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790 person
associatedWith Free Library of Philadelphia. Print and Picture Collection. corporateBody
associatedWith Free Library of Philadelphia. Rare Book Dept. corporateBody
associatedWith Fry, William Thomas, 1789-1843 person
associatedWith Heath, Charles, 1785-1848 person
associatedWith Heath, James, 1757-1834 person
associatedWith Holloway, Thomas, 1748-1827. person
associatedWith Landseer, John, 1769-1852. person
associatedWith Landseer, Thomas, 1795-1880 person
associatedWith LeConte, John L., (John Lawrence), 1825-1883 person
associatedWith Le Keux, Henry, 1787-1868 person
associatedWith Le Keux, John, 1783-1846 person
associatedWith Medland, Thomas, 18th/19th cent. person
associatedWith Michel, Jean-Baptiste, 1748-1804 person
associatedWith Milton, Thomas, 1743? -1827 person
associatedWith Moses, Henry, 1782? -1870 person
associatedWith Neagle, James, 1760?-1822. person
associatedWith Norris, [?], Doctor, person
associatedWith Parker, James, 1750-1805 person
associatedWith Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. corporateBody
associatedWith Philadelphia Bourse (Philadelphia, Pa.) corporateBody
associatedWith Philadelphia Bourse (Philadelphia, Pa.) corporateBody
associatedWith Raimbach, Abraham, 1776-1843 person
associatedWith Reynolds, Samuel William, 1733-1835 person
associatedWith Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962 person
associatedWith Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945 person
associatedWith Schiavonetti, Luigi, 1765-1810. person
associatedWith Scott, John, 1774-1827 person
associatedWith Scriven, Edward, 1775-1841. person
associatedWith Sharp, William, 1749-1824 person
associatedWith Sherlock, William P., b. ca. 1780 person
associatedWith Skelton, Joseph, fl. 1820-1850 person
associatedWith Smith, Anker, 1759-1819 person
associatedWith Stadler, Joseph Constantine person
associatedWith Stow, James, b. 1770? person
associatedWith Stow, James, b. ca. 1770 person
associatedWith Taylor, Isaac, 1759-1829. person
associatedWith Thew, Robert, 1758-1802 person
associatedWith Tomkins, Peltro William, 1759-1840 person
associatedWith Turner, Charles, 1774-1857 person
associatedWith University of Pennsylvania. corporateBody
associatedWith Wagstaff, Charles Edward, 1808-1850. person
associatedWith Walker, John George person
associatedWith Warren, Charles Turner, 1767-1823. person
associatedWith Yāfiʻī, ʻAbd Allāh ibn Asʻad, d. 1367. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Pennsylvania--Philadelphia
Philadelphia (Pa.)
England
Philadelphia (Pa.)
Subject
Engravers--18th century--Sources
Art--Exhibitions
Engravers--19th century--Sources
Art--Societies, etc
Portraits--20th century
Portraits--19th century
Engravers--England--19th century
Art--Collectors and collecting
Practice of law
Portraits--18th century
Engravers--England--18th century
Cuneiform tablets
Art schools
Occupation
Lawyers
Function

Person

Birth 1860

Death 1932

Americans

English

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