Paul Hammersmith

Street Scenes



  • Born March 17 1857 to Herman Hammerschmidt ( name later anglicized) and Emma Van Oven, both educated emigres from militaristic Prussia. Raised in a family of 10 children on a farm in Naperville, Illinois.
  • circa 1875, after highschool, apprenticed with a watchmaker and engraver.
  • 1876 at age 19 went to Milwaukee to work for Stanley and Camp Co, jewelers. His brother Herman joined him there as an apprentice.
  • 1880 met future wife Louise Knox who came to the shop to be the bookkeeper. Paul at that time was an established salesman and engraver. Louise was youngest of a large family from Scotland.
  • 1882 Paul and Louise married and had one child Paul Walter.
  • 1890 built a home on Kane Place. Brother Herman and father-in-law Walter Knox joined them.

  • 1898 Stanley and Comp closed and Paul decided to go into business for himself. Bought a small photo-engraving firm whose owner had been elected to Congress.
  • 1898 Hammersmith Engraving Company was launched in the McGeoch building, 116 (later 332) East Michigan Street. Joined by Benjamin Kortmeyer, a fine salesman. His brothers Carl and Phillip Hammersmith opened a second plant in Chicago. Son P.W. joined after college at Univ Wisconsin, Madison, followed by Silas Kortmeyer, a printing manager.
  • 1917 business was incorporated as Hammersmith-Kortmeyer Co., Engravers and Printers. Continued as such until merged with L. Breithaupt Printing Co., in December 1968 to form Hammersmith- Breithaupt Printing Corp., Printers and Lithographers.
  • Began his many travels that were foundations for his etchings: New Orleans, Amsterdam, Boston, Cape Cod, Naperville, Milwaukee and Cuba
  • Died November 12, 1937, at age 80. Louise followed him a year later