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Tiers-Frasch Collection


Held at: Science History Institute Archives [Contact Us]315 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Science History Institute Archives. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Tiers & Company was an American firm owned by brothers Cornelius and Alexander H. Tiers. Tiers & Company was involved in a variety of business ventures, one of which involved Herman Frasch's revolutionary process for extracting sulfur.

Herman Frasch (1851-1914) was a German-American chemical engineer. Frasch was born in 1851 and was educated in Germany. He came to the United States in 1868 and established a chemical laboratory in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 1887, Frasch patented a method of removing foul-smelling sulfur compounds from "sour" oil. In 1894, Frasch adapted the technology of the oil industry to sulfur mining and devised a means whereby the sulfur could be pumped out of the ground rather than mined. The process made American sulfur competitive with the more easily mined sulfur of Sicily. By securing an economical and reliable source for sulfuric acid, Herman Frasch helped the infant U. S. chemical industry to break free from European domination. Frasch was awarded a Perkins Medal in 1912 for his innovations. He died in Paris, France in 1914.


Tiers-Frasch Collection, Science History Institute Archives, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The Tiers-Frasch Collection is a fragmentary collection of business records from the firm of Tiers & Company. A portion of these records relate to the firm's dealings with Herman Frasch and his partner Franklin Rockefeller concerning the use of their process for extracting sulfur. The collection is arranged into the following two series:

  1. Correspondence and Letter Books
  2. Technical and Legal Documents

The Tiers-Frasch Collection was purchased by the Science History Institute (formerly known as the Chemical Heritage Foundation) from B & L Rootenberg Rare Books and Manuscripts in 2000.

The Tiers-Frasch Collection was processed by Andrew Mangravite in January 2003. This finding aid was revised by Birch Mezzaroba in May 2022.

Science History Institute Archives
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid created by Andrew Mangravite and encoded into EAD by Birch Mezzaroba.
Finding Aid Date
Access Restrictions

There are no restrictions on the materials and the collection is open to the public.

Use Restrictions

The Science History Institute holds copyright to the Tiers-Frasch Collection. The researcher assumes full responsibility for all copyright, property, and libel laws as they apply.

Collection Inventory

Series Description

Arranged in its original order, this series consists of letter books of correspondence from the firm of Tiers & Company. Letter books for the years 1892-1895 and 1900-1903 are missing. The contents of the correspondence concerns Tiers & Company's partnership with Herman Frasch and his associates, their sulfur-mining enterprise, and family business.

Letter Book - Tiers & Pendleton Company (Most pages are signed "Pendleton" and a few are signed "Alex. H. Tiers." Concerns sales of a coffee-hulling machine to South American planters.), 1878 August 8-1882 June 13.
Box 1 Folder 1
Letter Book - A Variety of Matters Discussed Including Family Matters (Pages 119 through 434 are blank. On page 461, a letter from Alex. H. Tiers to Rothwell dated October 16 begins, "The affairs of the American Sulphur Company are now of such importance that all those interested shall consequently take a more active part in their direction…."), 1888 February 25-1891 January 12.
Box 1 Folder 2
Blotter and Record Book - Tiers & Company (Some pages are out and other pages are blank. Some typed letters are tipped in. Several business schemes of Tiers & Company are discussed at some length including, on pages 115-118, their partnership with Frasch and his associates. Includes a typed transcript of pages relating to their dealings with Frasch.), 1894.
Box 1 Folder 3
Letter Book - Mostly Typed Letters and Signed "Alex. H. Tiers" (Contains many letters relating to the difficulty of raising capital for the sulfur mining enterprise. Pages 289-487 are blank. Pages 13, 31, 33, 41-43, 45, 55, 59, 61, 63-65, 88-91, 93, 102-105, 115, 122-141, 143-146, 148-200, 202-205 and 211 all deal with Frasch and the sulfur mining project.), 1896 July 2-1899 January 18.
Box 1 Folder 4
Letter Book (Register at front of book is blank. Fading has made the pages particularly difficult to read, but on page 20 there is a letter to Frasch from Cornelius Tiers. Most of the letters preserved herein concern family business matters such as the settling of their deceased mother's estate.), 1904 June 20-1909 May 10.
Box 2 Folder 1

Series Description

Arranged chronologically, this series consists of legal documents from the firm of Tiers & Company. Because of the age of the materials, preservation photocopies have been made of the materials in this series. The contents of these files contain deeds, correspondence, and bank statements regarding the holdings of Cornelius Tiers.

Deed of Sale, Lucas County, Ohio (Lastly sold to Edward W. and Francis H. Tiers.), 1843, 1855, 1860.
Box 2 Folder 2
Deed of Sale, Toledo, Ohio (Lastly sold to Edward W. and Francis H. Tiers.), 1856, 1858.
Box 2 Folder 3
Pages of a Rough Draft for a Contract Between Herman Frasch and Associates (Including Franklin Rockefeller) and Tiers & Company to Attempt an Experiment in Sulfur Mining (Includes a typed transcript.), circa 1884.
Box 2 Folder 4
Letter, R. W. Raymond to William Van Slooten - Regarding the Practicability of Mining Sulfur from the Calcasieu Deposit (After naming and considering several types of technology, the Poetsch Process which uses freezing. Van Slooten was a principal in the Diamond Prospecting Company, an earlier unsuccessful attempt to mine this sulfur.), 1886.
Box 2 Folder 5
Report - (Details a failed 1865 attempt to mine sulfur from the Calcasieu deposit using the Chandron process. Some attention is paid to the current physical condition of the mine and its equipment as well as to the geology of the region.), 1889.
Box 2 Folder 6
Letter, R. P. Rothwell to Alexander H. Tiers - Concerning the Possibility that the Great Louisiana Sulphur Deposit (i.e. the Calcasieu deposit) Contains Water (He concludes that it does not and recommends that a new attempt at mining it be made.), 1889.
Box 2 Folder 7
Letter, R. P. Rothwell to Edward Cooper (Containing extracts from letters and telegrams between Rothwell and Hall, the on-site engineer. Almost a day-by-day account of the problems encountered during the sinking of the initial mineshaft between November 1890 and August 1891.), 1891.
Box 2 Folder 8
Correspondence and Bank Statements from Morristown Trust Company Regarding Holdings of Cornelius Tiers, 1917-1919.
Box 2 Folder 9

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