- MELCHIOR, family prominent in Denmark since the mid-18th century. Originally from Hamburg, where the family had lived since the 18th century, MOSES MELCHIOR (1736–1817) arrived in Copenhagen in 1750. He became a successful dealer in leather and tobacco and in 1795 founded the import-export firm of Moses and Son G. Melchior, which is still in existence. His son GERSON (1771–1845) took over the business on his father's death, and enlarged it by importing sugar, rum, and tea. He was one of the leaders of the Copenhagen Jewish community. One of his sons, NATHAN GERSON (1811–1872), was a prominent ophthalmologist. He lectured at Copenhagen University and in 1857 became a director of the Ophthalmological Institute in Copenhagen. Another son, MORITZ GERSON (1816–1884), succeeded his father as head of the firm in 1845, establishing branches in the Danish West Indies and in Melbourne, Australia. Melchior was a member of the landsting (upper house of the Danish parliament) from 1866 to 1874 and was the first Jew to belong to the Danish Chamber of Commerce, becoming its president in 1873. Active also in the Jewish community, he served as a trustee and was made president in 1852. The writer Hans Christian Andersen was a friend and frequent guest in his house. His brother MOSES (1825–1912) succeeded him in 1884, opening a New York office in 1898. He was well known for his philanthropy, contributing to many Jewish and general causes. CARL HENRIQUES (1855–1931) took over the business after his brother's death and expanded it. He organized many athletic associations and sports clubs in Denmark and became their patron. Like his brother, he was the president of the Copenhagen community (1911–29). His son HARALD RAPHAEL (1896–1973) succeeded him in the firm, which dealt in the import of coffee, tea, rice, cocoa, and vanilla. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: Moses og søn G. Melchior, Et dansk handelshus gennem 6 generationer (1961), Eng. summary 53–56; Dansk Biografisk Haandleksikon, S.V.; Dansk Biografisk Leksikon, S.V.
Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.