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Jacob Sapirstein

Also Known As: "J.S."
Birthplace: Grajewo, Grajewo County, Podlaskie Voivodeship, Poland
Death: June 25, 1987 (102)
Cuyahoga, OH, United States
Place of Burial: Bedford Heights, Cuyahoga County, Ohio, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Isaac Sapirstein and Molly Sapirstein
Husband of Jennie Sapirstein
Father of Private User; Private; Harry Stone and Private User

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Jacob Sapirstein

Moved to Boston in 1905, and moved to Cleveland a year later.

Founder of the American Greetings Corp.

Founded in 1906 by Polish immigrant Jacob Sapirstein (1885–1987), who sold cards from a horse-drawn cart, American Greetings has been run by members of the family since its inception. Irving I. Stone (Sapirstein's oldest son, who changed his surname to Stone) was stuffing envelopes at age five, handling the business during his father's illness when he was nine, and worked for the company full-time upon leaving high school. He was succeeded as CEO by his son-in-law Morry Weiss in 1987, and Stone took the title "Founder-Chairman" previously held by his father, when Weiss became chairman in 1992, before dying in 2000. In 1993, American Greetings began sponsoring the Entertainment Tonight Birthdays, and remained sponsor until 2000, when competitor Hallmark Cards took over sponsorship.

SAPIRSTEIN, JACOB J. - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

SAPIRSTEIN, JACOB J. (30 Oct. 1884-24 June 1987) founder of AMERICAN GREETINGS CORP. and Jewish philanthropist, was born in Wasosz, Poland, the son of Rabbi Isaac and Molly Sapirstein and grew up in Grajeyvo, Poland. He came to Cleveland in 1906 and obtained a job selling postcards at a stand in the HOLLENDEN HOTEL. He soon went out on his own, buying German-made cards and distributing them to drug and candy stores and novelty shops. When the WORLD WAR I embargo on the importation of German-made cards heightened the demand for cards in the U.S., Sapirstein expanded his business, foregoing his horse-drawn wagon for a Ford automobile which became his traveling office. He also pioneered in the use of wall racks and rotating floor stands for card displays. By 1932 his sons had joined the firm, and the Sapirstein Card company began to design and print its own line of cards. For business reasons, his sons changed their name to Stone in 1940. American Greetings thrived. Sapirstein retired as president in 1960, and was succeeded by his eldest son, Irving.

Sapirstein was vitally interested in the furtherance of Jewish education in the Cleveland area as a way to maintain Jewish values. He was a long-time benefactor of the Rabbinical College of Telshe and the HEBREW ACADEMY. He married Jennie Kantor in 1906, and they had 3 sons, Irving I, Morris S., Harry H. and daughter Bernice M. Davis. Sapirstein died at his home in University Heights and was buried in Zion Memorial Park.

Jacob Sapirstein, 102; Founded Card Concern

Published: June 26, 1987

Jacob Sapirstein, the founder of the American Greetings Corporation of Cleveland, a major manufacturer of greeting cards and related products, died Wednesday at his home in University Heights, Ohio. He was 102 years old.

Mr. Sapirstein founded the company in 1906, selling post cards from a horse drawn wagon in Cleveland. Over the years the family-run enterprise grew into a $1 billion business with 23,000 employees.

Mr. Sapirstein emigrated from Poland to Boston in 1905 with the help of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society. He worked for a time as a tailor's apprentice in Chicago. Then in 1906, relatives invited him to work in their card shop in a Cleveland hotel and he accepted.

The card shop was later closed but Mr. Sapirstein set himself up in business in a Cleveland boarding house. He bought post cards, or view cards as they were called, and resold them to drug stores, candy stores and novelty shops.

The Sapirstein Greeting Card Company began manufacturing cards in the 1930's.

Mr. Sapirstein stepped down as president in 1960 and a number of years ago relinquished the chairmanship although he remained a director.

Survivors include three sons, Irving, Morris and Harry Stone of Cleveland, all of whom changed their name from Sapirstein to Stone; a daughter, Bernice Davis of Cleveland; 12 grandchildren, 21 great grandchildren and six great-great grandchildren.

Jacob Sapirstein Dies; Greeting Card Publisher

June 27, 1987|From Times Wire Services

CLEVELAND — Jacob Sapirstein, founder of American Greetings Corp. 81 years ago, died Wednesday at his home in University Heights. He was 102.

American Greetings is the largest publicly held manufacturer of greeting cards.

Sapirstein emigrated from Poland to Boston in 1905, then moved to Chicago before settling in Cleveland in 1906.

He began his career by selling cards in a downtown hotel and later founded the Sapirstein Greeting Card Co., handling the selling, ordering and bookkeeping from a horse-drawn wagon. The firm now employs 23,000 people and had revenues of $1.2 billion last year.

Sapirstein's decision to start his own business followed an embargo of German-produced cards, which created a demand in the United States.

Sapirstein Greeting Card Co. became American Greetings Publishers in 1938, and stock was offered to the public in 1952.

Sapirstein was to have retired from the firm's board of directors today.

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Jacob Sapirstein's Timeline

October 30, 1884
Grajewo, Grajewo County, Podlaskie Voivodeship, Poland
May 21, 1917
June 25, 1987
Age 102
Cuyahoga, OH, United States
Zion Memorial Park Cemetery, Bedford Heights, Cuyahoga County, Ohio, United States