Who was Louis Pincoffs?

Born in Rotterdam 7 June 1827
Died in New York on September 28, 1911

'A spectacle of so much glory and so much shame - 1827-1911' is written on the plaque of his statue a stone's throw from Suitehotel Pincoffs in Rotterdam.
Businessman, Shipowner and Politician, Louis Pincoffs belongs to the Great Rotterdammers, but his blazon is not infected. In implementing his ideas, he made a start with the implementation of an ambition that would end many decades later in the title of the World's Greatest Port of the World.

At the initiative of Pincoffs, ports were dug large enough for steam ships. There was a connection with the hinterland, with Brabant and Zeeland. Feijenoord, on the other side of the city, was developed into a serious port complex. This became the maternity chamber of the port of Rotterdam, still now the largest port of Europe.
The Poortgebouw was its executive room and the current Hotel Pincoffs was a customs office where the settlements were made of the traded items from the very near Free Entrepot.

Lodewijk Pincoffs came from a well-known Jewish environment. He married Esther Raphael on August 12, 1851, and did well in Rotterdam's politics. He was elected in the City Council in 1856 at the age of 28. Two years later, he became a member of Provincial States. Pincoffs was a man of honor. Although Pincoffs was zealous and ambitious, he twice rejected an opportunity to become Minister of Finance in the Cabinet Fock (1868-1871) and the Cabinet Kappeyne of the Coppello (1877-1879).

People were very confident in Pincoff's commercial instinct. He participated in the establishment of the Rotterdamsche Bank, the Holland American Line, the Dutch-Indian Gas Company, the Heineken's Beer Breweries and many other companies. The refusal to admit him, as Jew, to the influential Amicitia society was undoubtedly the bottom of his life.
In 1873 he founded the Rotterdam Trade Association. The capital was 15 million guilders. This enabled the major harbor works to be started on the left untouched left bank of Maas.

Everyone in the city seemed to be connected with him. Mayor Van Vollenhoven walked with him daily on the way to the city hall to discuss the interests of Rotterdam. The mighty banker Marten Mees was fond of him.
In the 1970s, Africa's business was significantly less successful, and Pincoffs sought financial tricks to camouflage his downturn. He cheated and hoped for better times. He even managed to persuade Prince Hendrik of the Netherlands in 1877 to accept the presidency of the Afrikaans Trade Association.

Flight in the night
It turned out to be too late. In May 1879 the Pincoff Empire collapsed. He fled with his family to the United States at night. Pincoffs was sentenced by default to eight years in prison. A sentence he never served, because there was no extradition treaty between the US and the Netherlands. His brother-in-law, Kerdijk, had to pay the price for that with two years in prison.
Pincoffs had not enchiched himself, but left millions debt. The Municipality of Rotterdam took over the property of the Rotterdam Trade Association. Properties of Pincoffs were auctioned.
Pincoffs tobacco and cigar trade did not take of in New York. Also, his journalisc aspirations did not come true.

Pincoffs died a poverished man.

'Interview' with Lodewijk Pincoffs (1907): Former harbor baron about its glory time in the Maasstad 
Lodewijk Pincoffs, docu-film RTV Rijnmond

Steve and Emma Pincoffs in Hotel Pincoffs. Author Bram Oosterwijk (middle) told them about the colourful life of their ancestor Lodewijk Pincoffs.
Bram Oosterwijk is the author of the books Vlucht na Victorie en Ik verlang geen dank about the life of Lodewijk Pincoffs.