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Charles Ilfeld Company Photograph Collection

Identifier: PICT-000-091

Scope and Content

The collection contains one portrait (2 copies) of the Ilfeld family and one photograph of the Ilfeld family home in Hamburg, Germany.


  • 1900-1910


Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Copy Restrictions

Duplication of print and photographic material is allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for copyright compliance. For more information see the Photographs and Images Research Guide and contact the Pictorial Archivist.


Charles Ilfeld, born in Homburg, Germany in 1847, arrived in Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1865. There he joined the mercantile business of Elsberg and Amberg as a clerk. A few months later, he relocated to Taos to work for Adolph Letcher in his business as a trader and agent, primarily for Elsberg and Amberg. By 1867 Taos was no longer a viable trade center and A. Letcher and Company moved to Las Vegas, New Mexico, where Charles Ilfeld became a partner in the firm. Seven years later, Letcher sold his interest to Ilfeld, who changed the name of the business to Charles Ilfeld Company.

Ilfeld's business eventually grew into the largest mercantile firm in New Mexico, with sales of $25,000,000 at its peak in 1952. Max Nordhaus, Ilfeld's brother-in-law, joined the company in 1886. His expertise in finance led the company to expand, opening branch stores around the territory. Shifting focus from retail to wholesale distribution, the company closed most of its retail stores in 1907. The wholesale business capitalized on the railways to buy and sell goods. For instance, wool was purchased from New Mexico ranchers and sold in eastern markets, where manufactured goods were bought for distribution back in New Mexico. "Wholesalers of everything" became the company motto. Branches were established and warehouses built along railroad lines in Santa Rosa, Albuquerque, Magdalena, and Gallup. Nordhaus became company president in 1929 upon the death of Charles Ilfeld. The business operated until 1961, when increasing competition forced the decision to sell off assets. A new company was formed at that time dealing solely in hardware. In 1970 the Charles Ilfeld Hardware Company was liquidated, ending a century of Ilfeld merchandizing in New Mexico.


3 items (1 folder) : 3 photographic prints

Language of Materials



The collection contains photographs of the Ilfeld family.

Physical Location

B2. Small Collections box 2. Filed by Pictorial Number.

Separated Material

Photographs were separated from the Charles Ilfeld Company Records .


Contact Information

  1. University of New Mexico
  2. MSC05 3020, 1, University of New Mexico
  3. Center for Southwest Research
  4. Albuquerque, NM 87131-0001
  5. Phone: 505-277-7173
  6. Fax:
  7. Email:
  8. URL:
Finding Aid of the Charles Ilfeld Company Photograph Collection, 1900-1910
Processed by CSWR Pictorial Staff
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

Revision Statements

  • Monday, 20210524: Attribute normal is missing or blank.

Repository Details

Part of the UNM Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections Repository

University of New Mexico Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections
University Libraries, MSC05 3020
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque NM 87131