A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from February 27, 2014
Bewitching Broker (female stockbroker)

The sisters Victoria Claflin Woodhull (1838-1927) and Tennessee Celeste Claflin (1844-1923) formed the Wall Street firm of Woodhull, Claflin & Company in 1870. The female financial pioneers were dubbed the “bewitching brokers” by the New York (NY) Herald, beginning February 9, 1870.

The term “bewitching broker” hasn’t been used since 1870, but is of historical interest today.


Wikipedia: Victoria Woodhull
Victoria Claflin Woodhull, later Victoria Woodhull Martin (September 23, 1838 – June 9, 1927), was an American leader of the woman’s suffrage movement.

Woodhull was an advocate of free love, by which she meant the freedom to marry, divorce, and bear children without government interference. She was the first woman to start a weekly newspaper and an activist for women’s rights and labor reforms. In 1872, she was the first female candidate for President of the United States.

Woodhull went from rags to riches twice, her first fortune being made on the road as a highly successful magnetic healer before she joined the spiritualist movement in the 1870s. While authorship of many of her articles is disputed (many of her speeches on these topics were collaborations between Woodhull, her backers, and her second husband Colonel James Blood), her role as a representative of these movements was powerful. Together with her sister, she was the first woman to operate a brokerage firm on Wall Street, and they were the first women to found a newspaper, Woodhull & Claflin’s Weekly.

At her peak of political activity in the early 1870s, Woodhull is best known as the first woman candidate for the United States presidency, which she ran for in 1872 from the Equal Rights Party, supporting women’s suffrage and equal rights. Her arrest on obscenity charges a few days before the election for publishing an account of the alleged adulterous affair between the prominent minister Henry Ward Beecher and Elizabeth Tilton added to the sensational coverage of her candidacy. She did not receive any electoral votes, and there is conflicting evidence about popular votes.
(...)
Female stockbroker
Woodhull and her sister Tennessee (Tennie) Claflin became the first women stockbrokers and in 1870 opened a brokerage firm on Wall Street. She made a fortune on the New York Stock Exchange. Woodhull, Claflin & Company opened in 1870 with the assistance of the wealthy Cornelius Vanderbilt, an admirer of Woodhull’s skills as a medium; he is rumored to have been her sister Tennie’s lover, and to have seriously considered marrying her. Newspapers such as the New York Herald hailed Woodhull and Claflin as “the Queens of Finance” and “the Bewitching Brokers.” Many contemporary men’s journals (e.g., The Days’ Doings) published sexualized images of the pair running their firm (although they did not participate in the day-to-day business of the firm), linking the concept of publicly minded, un-chaperoned women with ideas of “sexual immorality” and prostitution.

Wikipedia: Tenessee Celesta Claflin
Tennessee Celeste Claflin (October 26, 1844 – January 18, 1923), also known as Tennie C., was an American suffragette best known as one of the first women to open a Wall Street brokerage firm. She was an advocate of legalized prostitution.
(...)
Career
With her sister she started the investment firm of Woodhull, Claflin, & Company. The firm was rumored to have been backed by Cornelius Vanderbilt. Claflin is believed to have been his mistress.

9 February 1870, New York (NY) Herald, pg. 9, col. 4:
THE BEWITCHING BROKERS
Woodhull, Claflin & Co. in Office—Mrs. Claflin Resolved to “Stick”—An Interesting Conversation—She Can “Play a Lone Hand” for a Year.
The rampant “bulls” and “bears” of Wall street being greatly disturbed by the advent of the lovely female brokers, Mrs. Woodhull & Claflin, and the interest of the public being excited by the doings of the beautiful stock jobbers at No. 44 Broad street, anything new and true respecting the operations of the charmers of the “street” is eagerly read.

10 February 1870, New York (NY) Herald, pg. 9, col. 2:
THE BEWITCHING BROKERS.
Woodhull, Claflin & Co. in High Feather—Visitors Offering Business and Support—The Firm Fully Established.

13 February 1870, New York (NY) Herald, pg. 7, col. 6:
THE BEWITCHING BROKERS.
The Business of Woodhull, Claflin & Co. Increasing.

Chronicling America
14 February 1870, Charleston (SC) Daily News, pg. 1, col. 5:
THE BEWITCHING BROKERS.
In THE NEWS of Tuesday the opening of the offices of the new female firm of Woodhull, Claflin & Co., in Wall street, New York, was briefly announced.

Google Books
“The Terrible Siren”:
Victoria Woodhull (1838-1927)

By Emanie N. Sachs and Carrie Chapman Catt
New York, NY: Harper & Brothers Publishers
1928
Pg. 52:
Such conservative bankers were suspicious of the “Lady Brokers”, or the “Bewitching Brokers” as they often were called.

Twitter
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World’s 1st women stockbrokers start in New York in 1870. They were nicknamed the Bewitching Brokers by the press… http://fb.me/1wyGyaE4t
12:30 AM - 19 Jan 2014

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityBanking/Finance/Insurance • Thursday, February 27, 2014 • Permalink