A Short History of the firm Hornblower&Weeks and related Hornblower firms in the investment business (1881-2017)

The firm HORNBLOWER & WEEKS was organized on August 7, 1888 by Henry Hornblower and John W. Weeks, both of Boston. Henry Hornblower and his father had founded Hornblower & Page in 1881, and Hornblower & Weeks was its successor. Their offices were located at the Merchant's Exchange Building at 51 State Street, Boston. In 1889, they bought a seat on the New York Stock Exchange for $19,000 and moved to the Merchant's Bank Building on Devonshire Street. Surviving the Panic of 1893, which resulted in numerous failures of industrial corporations and financial houses, the young firm moved into larger quarters on the second floor of the Exchange Building at 53 State Street. By 1900, the firm had a net worth of $400,000, by 1902, $800,000, and in 1903 and 1904, founding partner John W. Weeks, consolidated the First National Bank of Boston with the National Bank of Redemption, creating the largest bank of New England. In 1907, offices were opened in Providence and Chicago, and a Bond department was established. That same year, the firm became one of the first on Wall Street to set up a Statistical and Research Department. Shortly thereafter, the firm's founder, John W. Weeks, became a member of the House Banking and Currency Committee and worked energetically to create the National Monetary Commission, which led to the establishment of the Federal Reserve System in 1914.

1st Money - click image for larger detail

In 1913, Ralph Hornblower, son of the founder, Henry Hornblower, was admitted to the partnership, and John W. Weeks retired upon his election to the U.S. Senate. In 1915, HORNBLOWER & WEEKS became the principal underwriters with Merrill, Lynch & Co. of the McCrory Stores Corp., a five and ten chain comprising 113 stores in one of Merrill's first underwritings. That same year HORNBLOWER & WEEKS recapitalized the Chevrolet Motor Corporation and successfully completed a new offering at $85 per share, which later led to its merger in 1918 with General Motors. The Hornblower firm helped rehabilitate two other companies during this period, merging Bingham Copper & Gold Mining Company into United States Smelting & Refining Company and Sealshipt Oysters into General Foods. By 1917 the capital in the firm had grown to $4,630,000.

During World War I ninety-seven employees served in the armed forces, including Lieutenant Ralph Hornblower, and one employee, John J. Booth, killed in action, had an American Legion post named after him.


After the war, HORNBLOWER & WEEKS often handled over ten per cent of the total shares traded in a single day on the New York Stock Exchange. In 1921 the firm underwrote the new bond issues of the Louisville & Nashville Railroad, Consolidated Gas, predecessor of Con Edison, Humble Oil, and Sharon Steel Hoop. Other issues underwritten by the firm in the 1920's were Sterling Products, Timken Roller Bearing, Wrigley Spearmint Gum, and Household Products. HORNBLOWER opened a Cleveland office in March of 1924. Other HORNBLOWER underwritings in the 1920's were the Stern Bros. Department Stores, the Maytag Co., Life Savers, American Home Products, Grand Union, Mohawk Carpet, the Phelps Dodge Corp., and the Cincinnati Union Railroad, among others. In 1926, the firm's founder, John W. Weeks died, after having served in the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate, and six years as Secretary of War (now Defense).


After the crash of 1929, which the firm survived with small capital losses except in the syndicate department, HORNBLOWER went through a period of retrenchment and developed business in over-the-counter trading and tax-exempt municipals. By 1930, firm capital had grown to $16,107,000, which was substantially reduced during the ensuing years of the depression. Although never associated with the firm, Sinclair Weeks, son of founder John W. Weeks, was elected to the U.S. Senate, and later became Secretary of Commerce in the Eisenhower administration. In October, 1934, the first employee hired by the firm, James J. Phelan, died after serving twenty years as the senior partner to founder Henry Hornblower. He was the first American decorated as a Knight of Malta and had been Trustee of the University of Notre Dame.

1928 - 40th Anniversary (click image for complete)

In 1935, the firm's New York offices moved to 40 Wall Street, occupying the entire twelfth floor. HORNBLOWER underwriting syndicates in the 1930's included Hiram Walker Distillers, the Glidden Company, Reliable Stores, and the firm expanded its New England operations by acquiring the Portland and Bangor offices of Wrenn Brothers. Three years later, the firm absorbed about 100 employees and the partners of G.M.-P. Murphy & Co., best known for its financing of major aviation companies, including Pan American Airways, United Air Lines, Boeing, and Lockheed, thus making HORNBLOWER a leading financial underwriter and advisor in aviation securities.

Throughout the period of World War II, HORNBLOWER & WEEKS continued to do solid business, heading a number of underwritings. Seventy-eight employees served with the U.S. Armed Forces, while three employees were killed in action.


In 1947, the firm adapted a fully automated bookkeeping and accounting system, using an IBM punch card system. Henry Hornblower,II and Ralph Hornblower, Jr., were admitted as partners in 1950, and the firm opened an office on the second floor of 400 Madison Avenue in mid-town Manhattan. That same year the Providence office moved into new and ultra-modern offices on the ninth floor of the Rhode Island Hospital Trust Company.

Ralph Hornblower Jr., served as a partner and later executive vice president of Hornblower & Weeks, from 1946 until 1977 when the firm merged with Loeb Rhoades to become Loeb Rhoades Hornblower, the fourth largest brokerage concern in the United States. In 1979 it merged again with Shearson Hayden Stone, later known as Shearson-American Express, to become the second largest. That year Mr. Hornblower left the firm and acquired a seat on the New York Stock Exchange that had been held by the Hornblower firm since 1889. He retired from active brokerage activities in 1982. He was born in Boston and graduated from Milton Academy in 1937 and from Harvard University in 1941. In World War II he served in the Third Battalion, Fifth Marines and the First Marine Division and later as a bomber pilot with the First Marine Air Wing.

In 1953, HORNBLOWER & WEEKS merged with the firm Paul H. Davis & Co. of Chicago, which had long enjoyed a correspondent relationship with the New York HORNBLOWER office. Davis brought along such clients as the Borg-Warner Company, Keystone Steel & Wire Company, Longines-Wittnauer Watch Company, and the Sangamo Electric Company. This doubled the size of the firm's Chicago office and added two new offices in Peoria and Rockford, Illinois, bringing the firm's total to 17 offices nationwide. Later that year the acquisition of the cotton brokerage business of Scatterty & Jones led to new HORNBLOWER offices in Charlotte, North Carolina and Memphis, Tennessee. Many of the underwritings in the 1950's were centered on the electronics, steel and manufacturing industries. Reed & Company of Worcester, Massachusetts was acquired in 1955. Other underwritings in this decade included Champion Spark Plug, Eastern Stainless Steel, Pan American Airways, Canada Dry, and Fidelity and many others.

1958 - 70th Anniversary (click image for larger)

A tragic plane crash claimed the life of firm partner Vice-Admiral Edward O. McDonnell on January 5th, 1960. He had won the Congressional Medal of Honor while serving in the U.S. Navy in 1914.


In the 1960's offices were opened in Springfield, Massachusetts, Denver, Colorado, Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Palm Springs, Glendale and Santa Ana, all in California. By 1963, thirty offices were operating from coast to coast, and memberships were held in all the major American exchanges.

1964 - Merger (click image for larger)

The firm merged with Hemphill, Noyes in 1963, changing its name to HORNBLOWER & WEEKS, HEMPHILL, NOYES, and later acquired Spencer Trask, in 1977, changing the name once again to HORNBLOWER, WEEKS, NOYES & TRASK. At this point in time, Hornblower ranked eighth among member firms of the New York Stock Exchange in number of retail offices, with 93 retail sales offices located in the United States and Europe. For the 16 month period ending on January 31, 1977 Hornblower accounted for 1.03 % of the number of shares traded on the NYSE and 1.56% of the number of shares traded on the American Stock exchange. [13] At the time of the merger with Spencer Trask in early 1977,

Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island) had seventeen sales offices, with 188 account executives. The Mid-Atlantic Region (District of Columbia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia) contained fourteen offices, with 164 account executives, while the North Central (Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, and Ohio) had thirteen offices with 200 registered representatives. The South Central Region (Florida, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas) had 20 offices with 264 account executives, and finally, the Western Region was made up of twenty-one offices in Arizona, California, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington, and had 263 account executives. [14] Each sales office was equipped with stock exchange tickers and desk top electronic quotation machines and were linked to the New York communications and operations headquarters by a high speed order and wire transmission system. In 1977 the Hornblower firm also conducted brokerage and commodities business at offices in London, Amsterdam, Geneva, Zurich, Frankfurt, Munich, Hamburg, and Dusseldorf, with a total of thirty-six account executives.


In 1977 Hornblower was a significant underwriter of corporate and municipal securities and also served as a financial advisor to corporations and to state and local government agencies. The investment banking department had 37 professionals with operations in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. During fiscal 1976 and the first month of 1977, Hornblower managed or co-managed 69 issues, with an aggregate dollar commitment by all participating underwriters of $3.4 billion.

This firm was then acquired by Loeb Rhoades in 1978, forming LOEB RHOADES HORNBLOWER, and then in December, 1979, Shearson acquired Loeb Rhoades Hornblower, forming SHEARSON LOEB RHOADES, dropping the name HORNBLOWER.


It is important to note that during the life time of senior partner Ralph Hornblower, Sr. (1890-1960) the Hornblower & Weeks partnership agreements had included the following provision stating that the name Hornblower & Weeks belongs outright to Ralph Hornblower without any obligation to account therefore. In the event of the death of Ralph Hornblower prior to the dissolution of the partnership or any successor thereto, it is agreed that the name shall belong outright to Henry Hornblower, II and Ralph Hornblower, Jr. or the successor of them and that they or the successor of them shall have the power to dissolve any partnership using the name Hornblower & Weeks at any time upon not less than one year's written notice. This article cannot be amended. Partnership Agreement of Hornblower & Weeks.


After the merger with Shearson, in which Ralph Hornblower, Jr. was represented by counsel Ralph Hornblower, III, founder of this company, Hornblower & Company, LLC, Ralph Hornblower, Jr. acquired his seat on the New York Stock Exchange from Loeb Rhoades Hornblower, and began to operate the seat as an independent broker for several years until he was not able to do so due to physical disability, forcing him to give up trading on the floor of the Exchange. He then leased it to another firm but continued to stay active with the Stock Exchange affairs. Upon his death in 1987, it passed to Mrs. Ralph Hornblower, Jr., who exchanged it for stock in The New York Stock Exchange Group (NYSE:NYX), and which stock holding she continues to hold to this day.


Shortly after the merger with Shearson, Ralph Jr. and Ralph Hornblower III formed a company, named Hornblower & Company, LLC, a Delaware limited liability company. It should be noted that Shearson CEO, Sanford I. Weill, acknowledged in writing to Ralph Hornblower, Jr. and Ralph Hornblower, III of their right to continue to use the Hornblower name in the securities and investment business. Both Ralph Jr. and Ralph III continued to do that by managing assets located in Connecticut and Massachusetts, and Ralph, III (Ray) continues to operate Hornblower & Company, LLC.


A graduate of Harvard (BA,'70) and the University of Virginia Law School (JD,'74), Ralph Hornblower, III, is the chairman of Hornblower & Company, LLC, an investment firm specializing in early stage companies in the biomedical, alternative energy, health care, and transportation/logistics sectors. Joining the US Department of Justice immediately upon graduation from law school, Mr. Hornblower first worked as a trial attorney in the Special Litigation Section of the Department's Civil Rights Division. Under Attorneys General Edward Levi and Griffin Bell, he was appointed to the office with authority to oversee all matters of ethics and professional responsibility throughout the Justice Department following the Watergate cases of the mid-1970s. After a period of private practice, Mr. Hornblower began his career as an investment professional at Alex. Brown & Sons, and later at the Cape Cod Company (real estate development). In 1998 he revived Hornblower & Company, LLC, which he founded with his father in 1979, and began a merchant banking business specializing primarily in consulting, capitalizing, and advising early stage companies in health care, alternative energy and "green" technology, medical technology, and logistics. Hornblower & Company currently has advised the following companies: SonoMedica, (www.Sonomedica.com) digital stethoscope for detection of early stage heart disease; eBox (www.eBox.com) wireless technology and RFID logistics technology, and Visible Assets, Inc. (www.visible-assets.com) RFID tracking and tracing of high value shipments, and medical technology, Carbonic Heat, (www.carbonicheat.com), Eagle Structural Technologies, and the Green Technologies Group.

*Over fifteen years ago, it should be noted that one company used the Hornblower name without any authorization or permission to do so whatsoever. This company, which went by the name "Hornblower & Weeks" (circa1998-2003), had absolutely no connection to the Hornblower family or to the original Hornblower & Weeks firm, and was ordered to cease and desist and go out of business by the NASD and the SEC in 2003. Ralph Hornblower, III, great grandson of the founder, Henry Hornblower, and successor to the Hornblower name in the investment business, successfully entered into litigation to stop and enjoin this fraud on the investing public.