Caesar R. Bannihr (1857-1943) was a tinkerer and an inventor, and by profession, an engraver and die sinker. All that we know about Bannihr is what can be found in the diaries and account books that are in the Bannihr Papers. Bannihr was twenty-six-years-old when he started recording the events of his daily life in the series of diaries found in these papers. From 1883-1891 Bannihr worked a ten-hour day at the Cheshire (Connecticut) Manufacturing Company. In his leisure time he invented a match box machine, a safety brake, and other gadgets; practiced drawing, piano, and guitar; bicycled and served as sales agent for the Columbia Bicycle Company; sold cigars as a small business venture with his father; attended the local Democratic Party caucuses; and served on the Committee of School District No. 12, Cheshire. It was while Bannihr was on the school committee that he started to court his future wife, Cynthia Tucker (1858-?), a teacher at the school. Since Cynthia Tucker Bannihr also kept a diary for the period 1890-1893, we can see this developing relationship from both sides. There is no diary of Caesar Bannihr's after he left Cheshire for New York in December 1891, but Cynthia Tucker Bannihr's diary shows us the plans for the October 1892 wedding and their first year of married life in New York City.
When Bannihr moved to New York, he presumably went into partnership with his brother Henry in the trimming business. There are two account books for his enterprise. However, Bannihr soon was working at the trade of engraving and die sinking. The account books from 1894-1942 would indicate that he was self-employed, but he also might have practiced his trade while holding a full-time job. The account books show not only the economic course of the business, but also the craftsmanship of Bannihr; they contain numerous sketches and samples of the dies and engravings.
The papers contain another series of diaries kept by Bannihr from 1934-1941 while he and his wife were living in Stratford, Connecticut. In these Bannihr recorded day-to-day happenings, the produce of his garden, and the decreasing work load of his later years.
The papers are arranged as follows:
- Diaries of Caesar R. Bannihr,*1883-1891; 1934-1941
- Diaries of Cynthia T. Bannihr,1890-1893
- Account Books,*1891-1942
- Misc. printed material & sample dies1885-1890, n. d.
*In several places Bannihr used old account books for his diary or recorded financial matters at the end of a diary volume. Where such overlap occurs has been noted in the folder list.
The papers were purchased from M. Earle, April 17, 1944.