FILENE, EDWARD. (1860-1937). American businessman and humanitarian. Signed portrait. (“Edward A. Filene”). 1p. Folio. N.p., 1927. A large pencil portrait by the illustrator Oscar Lazar.

The son of German-Jewish immigrants, Filene observed his father’s life in America begin as a peddler and finish as the owner of several successful department stores. With his brother Abraham, Edward built upon his father’s success to create the Boston-based Filene’s, one of the largest such stores in the nation. Its success was due to Filene’s many innovations including a “money back guarantee” and the creation of Filene’s Basement, an annex designed to move excess merchandise at reduced prices. Filene was also an innovator in worker relations implementing such programs as profit sharing, paid vacations, a 40-hour work week, and a credit union for his employees. However, his interest expanded beyond his own staff, and he led an initiative known as the Boston 1915 Movement dedicated to improving working class housing conditions, transportation and access to civic institutions and services such as libraries and parks.

A closed tear in the left margin does not affect the artwork, otherwise in fine condition, A handsome and particularly large portrait of one of America’s greatest retail businessmen. Uncommon. [indexhistory]

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