Art dealer and photo supplier. Herman Lieber immigrated to Cincinnati, Ohio, from Dusseldorf, Germany, in 1853. He moved to Indianapolis in 1854 and opened a stationery and bookbinding establishment. As his business increased, Lieber expanded with a stock of pictures. Eventually, in addition to selling paintings, he established a factory that manufactured picture frames and decorative moldings. 

Interior View of the H. Lieber Art Emporium, ca. 1890 Credit: Indiana Historical Society View Source

In 1900, Lieber became one of the first local exhibitors of the paintings by the Indiana artists known as the Hoosier Group. By this time, the bookbinding portion of the business no longer existed. In 1902, the enterprise incorporated under the name H. Lieber Company as a wholesaler in frames and retailer in paintings

After Lieber’s death in 1908, his sons retained control of the company, located downtown on West Washington Street. In the ensuing years, H. Lieber Company gained a national and international reputation for its moldings and frames, while maintaining the art gallery.

Herman Lieber, Art Patron, 1902 Credit: Indiana Historical Society View Source

As photography gained popularity in the early 20th century, the company moved from manufacturing frames to sales of photographic equipment and supplies and photofinishing. By 1954, in addition to the art gallery, it had four retail stores in Indianapolis that sold cameras and artists’ equipment. Within the decade, the company closed the art gallery and focused on its professional photo supply and photofinishing departments, adding a fifth location for these services.

In 1979, Hook’s Drug Stores bought the assets of the 125-year-old company. Only the 440 North Capitol location remained a Lieber store. In 1984, Hook’s sold the photographic supply division of H. Lieber Company to Hoosier Photo Supplies, Inc., for an undisclosed price, retaining the photofinishing division.

Revised February 2021

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