Saturday, January 22, 2011

Samuel Montagu & Company

Montagu Stanley was born in 1832 in Liverpool. While he was still a young child, his parents reversed his names, for reasons best known to themselves, and he became Samuel Montagu.

At the age of 15 Samuel Montagu moved to London and began his business career in the City, one which would span more than six decades. His first position was with his brother-in-law's money exchange business, where he learned the intricacies of the profession. Montagu left three years later to become the manager of the London branch of a French bank called Monteaux. However Montagu was determined to go into business for himself and he did not stay at the bank for long. In 1852, at the age of 20, Montagu borrowed £5000 from his father to finance an international bullion, money exchange, and bill collection service that he formed with his elder brother, Edwin Samuel. The new company was called Samuel & Montagu though the name was changed to Samuel Montagu & Company in 1877.

For the next twenty years, Samuel Montagu & Company was the undisputed leader in the silver bullion trade. It was one of the four firms which participated in the daily fixing of the silver price. By the 1870s the company was financing loans for European governments and was instrumental in making London the centre of the international money market.

Samuel Montagu was also very active in politics (he was created Baron Swaythling in 1862), and a philanthropic member of the Jewish community until his death in 1911.

By Mark Matlach

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