Founded by Charles W. Engelhard, Sr. in 1902, Engelhard Corporation, an American Fortune 500 company, was once the world’s largest multi-national precious metals corporation. Even though the company was officially founded in 1902, its roots can arguably be traced back to 1891 when Charles Engelhard immigrated to the US from Hanau as a platinum firm’s sales representative; Charles Engelhard was dubbed the "Platinum King" of the industry at the time.
Even after his project was completed, Charles Engelhard decided to remain in the United States and establish Engelhard Industries. He did so by investing in and acquiring secure equity positions in various other metals and minerals companies. Some of these companies included the Newark-based Charles F. Croselmire Company, which helped him establish the American Platinum Works in 1903, followed closely by Baker & Co., a Newark-based platinum smelting business, which, in turn, helped him establish the Hanovia Chemical and Manufacturing Company. These strategic partnerships helped him cement Engelhard’s status as the world's largest refiner and fabricator of precious metals like gold, silver, platinum, and a producer of silver and silver alloys. Eventually, the company expanded into developing liquid gold with ornamental value.
Charles W. Engelhard, Sr. would eventually be succeeded by his son, Charles W. Engelhard, Jr., who would follow in his father’s footsteps in regards to strategically growing Engelhard through acquisitions, while also setting his sight towards global expansions.
Charles Jr. concluded his primary education in Johannesburg, South Africa, and continued pursuing higher education in Christ Church, Oxford University, and Princeton University respectively, finally graduating with a degree in History in the year 1939. He married Jane Annette Reiss in 1947 and relocated to a 172-acre equestrian estate in New Jersey, where they raised their five daughters — Annette, Mary Susan, Sophie, Sally and Charlene — and a champion golden retriever.
Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, Charles Jr. was determined to carve his own name and get out from under his father’s formidable shadow. To that end, he traveled throughout Africa and established a business partnership with Larry Oppenheimer and his firm DeBeers, then served as chairman of Johannesburg’s American – South African Investment Company, Ltd. His goal was to export gold bullion from South African mines and either use them for industrial purposes or sell them on the open market. However, South Africa’s government regulations made it nearly impossible to export gold bullion from their country. Engelhard, however, ingeniously identified a loophole in the regulations that permitted the export of art objects. So he founded The Development and Investment Company of Southern Africa, Ltd. with the express intention of transforming the gold into statues and ornaments, which could then be exported to Hong Kong, where they were eventually melted down and recast as gold bullion and sold on the open market.
(Charles W. Engelhard and Larry Oppenheimer)
Charles Jr. eventually inherited the family business, including Engelhard Hanovia and the Engelhard Minerals & Chemicals Corporation of Newark, in 1950, following which he continued his goals of expanding their company’s reach, entering the automotive, aviation, petroleum, fibers, and various other industries. He was also responsible for consolidating all of their family’s companies into a single unified publicly-held company, Engelhard Industries, Inc., which was listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
In 1963, Engelhard also took a 20% interest in Minerals & Chemicals Philipp (MCP) and Philipp Brothers. The former of these was a producer of nonmetallic minerals and the latter was a trading firm that facilitated the buying and selling of mineral ores. The transaction was conducted through a stock swap which necessitated that Engelhard should give up 8% of Engelhard’s stocks as partial payment for his position in MCP. Not only did this partnership enable Engelhard to further his plans of global expansion but it also facilitated what would arguably become Engelhard’s greatest achievement and legacy — producing the world’s first catalytic converter, a device that can convert the toxic fumes in exhaust gases to inert pollutants through the process of catalysis.
Eventually, the Engelhard family worked towards a merger of the three companies — Engelhard, Minerals & Chemicals Philipp, and Philipp Brothers — turning them into Engelhard Minerals & Chemicals Corporation (EMCC) and they consequently ended up with a 40% control over the newly formed company. Not only did the merger grant them greater control over the conglomerate, but it also drastically increased sales volumes. Even though the companies had officially merged into EMCC, they maintained their individual autonomy, each sector of the company performing a specific role. Engelhard Industries handled the refinement of precious metals. Philipp Brothers continued trading in mineral ores and precious metals. And Minerals and Chemicals continued their production of nonmetallic minerals. However, out of these, Engelhard and Philipp Brothers contributed to over 75% of the company’s net income, with $28 million being generated by the Philipp trading division.
During the 1960s and 1970s, the world was turning to spot traders to move scare natural resources around the globe. This ensured that Philipp remained the most valuable asset in this conglomerate and their meteoric success continued unchallenged. By 1974, EMCC’s revenue peaked at $5 billion, over 80% of which had been driven by Philipp. By 1981, Philipp Brothers were earning 89% of EMCC’s $26.6 billion revenue and 88% of their profits. The remaining divisions of the company — Engelhard and Minerals & Chemicals — could not possibly continue growing at this pace. This led to the Philipp Brothers starburst, which was later renamed Phibro. The remainder of the conglomerate was renamed Engelhard Corporation.
Charles W. Engelhard and family were not ones to live a modest life. Charles enjoyed golfing, thoroughbred horse racing, speedboat racing, poker, backgammon, his grandiose 172 acre estate dubbed "Cragwood" filled with Charles' exquisite art collection, and traveling with his fleet of aircraft most notably the "Platinum Plover" a BAC One Eleven that was delivered to Engelhard Industries Inc. on September 20th, 1967.
(Engelhard Industries Inc. "Platinum Plover")
At this point, Engelhard Corporation operated a Minerals & Chemicals Division and the Engelhard Industries division with headquarters in New Jersey. However, in 1984, they restructured the company to also include Specialty Chemicals and Specialty Metals divisions. The 1980s and 1990s were marked by continued expansions through acquisitions and joint ventures with companies such as Freeport Kaolin Company, Harshaw/Filtrol Partnership, Solvay Catalysts GmbH, Mearl Corporation, of Mallinckrodt Inc., Süd Chemie’s Fats and Oils Catalyst Business, and Collaborative Group.
All of these acquisitions facilitated Engelhard’s continued growth. However, on the 30th of May, 2006, Engelhard was, in turn, acquired by the German chemical manufacturing company BASF for $5 billion. Eventually, BASF renamed Engelhard and all of its global holdings to BASF Catalysts LLC, which eventually became a part of the BASF Corporation.
Over the course of their century-spanning hold on the world’s precious metals industry, the company produced an extensive range of bullion bars and rounds of platinum, gold, and silver in varying sizes such as 1oz. silver Prospector Rounds, 1oz. gold bars, 1 gram, 5 gram, 10 gram gold bars, 1oz, 2oz, 3oz, 4oz, 5oz, 7oz, 10oz, 16.075oz (Half Kilo), 32.150oz (Kilo) , 50oz , 100oz and even 1000oz silver bars. Gold bars ranging from 1oz , 2oz troy , 3.215 999 gold ingots , 5oz London , Australian and American ingots , 10oz troy ingots , even 32.150 troy oz (kilo) pure gold bars. Vintage Engelhard bullion bars and ingots continue to be some of the most valuable and prestigious bullion bars in the precious metals market as a result of their purity, trustworthiness, and exceptional rarity due to no longer being in business. As such, they are coveted by collectors and investors from across the globe. Engelhard Corporation's notoriety continues a subject of deep interest among collectors and investors of gold, silver, platinum, and palladium precious metals because of their meticulous craftsmanship and now modern time rarity.
Engelhard bars can be identified by a capital ‘E’ offset by the backdrop of a globe, the letter "E" italicized or the name "Engelhard" spelled out across the ingot stamp. Although scarce, genuine / rare vintage Engelhard ingots appear online and if you're lucky you may find one in a local shop near you!