My generation hears Gloria Vanderbilt and instantly, we think of those tight jeans from the 80’s with the trademark swan. Recently, I came across a vintage pair of her designer costume earrings and listed them for sale. I wanted to add this brief bio of the Vanderbilt family courtesy of Wikipedia to remind readers of the amazing contributions the Vanderbilts have made throughout the history of America.
“The Vanderbilt family is an American family of railroad notability who became socially prominent during the first half of the nineteenth-century. The family’s fortune was established by the shipping and railroad magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt, and eventually expanded into various other areas of industry and philanthropy through the 20th century. Cornelius Vanderbilt’s son and heir, William Henry Vanderbilt, expanded the fortune, becoming the richest man in the world by the time of his death in 1885. His descendants built great mansions in New York, Newport, Rhode Island, North Carolina, Vermont, Massachusetts and various other exclusive homes. The family’s prominence lasted until the late 20th century. Most of the family’s Fifth Avenue mansions were torn down, and other Vanderbilt homes have been sold or turned into museums. Collectively, the Vanderbilts are the seventh wealthiest family in history. The family surname is of Dutch origin.
The prominence of the family began with Cornelius Vanderbilt (1794–1877), the fourth of nine children born to a Staten Island family of modest means. His great-great-great-grandfather, Jan Aertszoon (1620–1705), was a Dutch farmer from the village of De Bilt, Utrecht, Netherlands, who emigrated to the Dutch colony of New Netherland as an indentured servant in 1650. Jan’s village name was added to the Dutch “Van der” (from the) to create “Van der Bilt” which evolved into Vanderbilt when the English took control of New Amsterdam (now New York). The family is related to the Dutch patrician family Van der Bilt.
Cornelius Vanderbilt left school at age 11 and went on to build a shipping and railroad empire that, during the 19th century, made him one of the wealthiest men in the world.
The Vanderbilt family owned land in Corwith Township, Michigan, which was settled about 1875. When the Vanderbilt-owned Michigan Central Railroad came through in 1880, the village of Vanderbilt, Michigan, was established. Although Cornelius Vanderbilt always occupied a modest home, members of his family would use their wealth to build magnificent mansions. Shortly before his death in 1877, Vanderbilt donated US$1 million for the establishment of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, an amount equivalent to $22 to $149 million in 2011 dollars.
Members of the family dominated what has come to be known as the “Gilded Age”, a period when Vanderbilt men were the merchant princes of American life through their prominence in the business world and as patrons of the arts throughout the world.
Some of Cornelius Vanderbilt’s grandchildren and great grandchildren gained fame as successful entrepreneurs while several achieved prominence in other fields such as Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt (1877–1915), who went down on the RMS Lusitania. His son Alfred Jr. became a noted horse breeder and racing elder. Harold Stirling Vanderbilt (1884–1970) gained fame as a sportsman, winning the most coveted prize in yacht racing, the America’s Cup, on three occasions. His brother William Kissam Vanderbilt launched the Vanderbilt Cup for auto racing. Cornelius Vanderbilt IV (1898–1974) became an accomplished writer, newspaper publisher, and film producer.
Cornelius Vanderbilt had been awarded a gold medal by the United States government during the American Civil War for donating his steamer S.S. Vanderbilt to the Union forces. Inheritance of this medal became the symbol for the titular head of the Vanderbilt family.
In 1855, Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt donated 8.5 acres (34,000 m²) of property to the Moravian Church and cemetery at New Dorp on Staten Island, New York. Later, his son William Henry Vanderbilt donated a further 4 acres (16,000 m²). A plot was kept for the Vanderbilt family in the Moravian Cemetery and several of them are buried there in the family mausoleum including the family founder. Their mausoleum was redesigned in 1885 by architect Richard Morris Hunt.
The noted economist John Kenneth Galbraith said that several generations of Vanderbilts showed both the talent for acquiring money and the dispensing of it in unmatched volume, adding that they dispensed their wealth for self-gratification and very often did it foolhardily.
Confirmation as to the validity of Galbraith’s views is that only forty-eight years after the death of Cornelius Vanderbilt, one of his direct descendants died penniless. Within seventy years of his passing, the last of the ten great Vanderbilt Fifth Avenue mansions in New York City had been torn down. In 1973, the first Vanderbilt family reunion took place at Vanderbilt University.
The Vanderbilt family have become connected by marriage to such noble European families as the Spencer Churchill family (Duke of Marlborough (title), marquess of Blandford), counts of Széchenyi de Sárvár-Felsővidék, counts of Szapáry von Muraszombath, Széchysziget und Szapár and counts of Hadik de Futak.
The family’s modern legacy includes Vanderbilt University as well as Vanderbilt Avenue in Midtown Manhattan, which runs alongside Grand Central Terminal, the New York City rail hub built by the Vanderbilt family. Today the Vanderbilts are still the seventh wealthiest family in the world.
These earrings are for sale at buy rare stuff.
This is the listing description:
These are stunning costume earrings. These are very rare “Hallmarked” Gloria Vanderbilt Earrings with the Trademark Swan inside. These earrings are in beautiful condition and have a Channel Style with Channel Set Faux diamonds, square cut. The color of the gold tone can be worn with your 13, 18 or 22ct gold and they look real. Heavy and nicely made. They are pierced back and weigh just under 1″ in diameter and weigh 15.1 grams total weight.
Gloria Laura Vanderbilt (born February 20, 1924) is an American artist, author, actress, heiress, and socialite most noted as an early developer of designer blue jeans. She is a member of the prominent Vanderbilt family of New York and the mother of CNN’s Anderson Cooper