Boston U.S.A 1845, Irishman Henry Cross and his son Mark Cross established Mark Cross & Co. as saddlers and harness makers. They were known for their work using fine English hide and pigskin. The most important person in the Mark Cross history is Patrick Murphy. In 1875, 17 year old Patrick joined Mark Cross & Co. as a salesman. It was Murphy’s craftsmanship that broadened the company by making other fine leather goods, such as luggage, wallets and toilet cases. Murphy was sent to Walsall, England to study English leather craftsmanship. When Murphy returned to Boston he was determined to open a leather works in Walsall that would supply the company solely with finely finished goods. When Mark Cross passed away, Murphy purchased the business for $6,000. Mark Cross & Co. officially became an abbreviated Mark Cross. In 1982, Murphy moved Mark Cross Co. to New York, opening a shop on Broadway. The saddler and leather goods were produced in Walsall, England for export to America. 10 years later, Mark Cross shop opened on Fifth Avenue. The 1890’s were wondrous for Mark Cross Co. By 1893, there was a shop in New York, Boston and London, and eventually making its way to Milan and Paris. Once the automobile appeared, Murphy knew there would no longer be a need for fine saddlery and harness and brought hundreds of European items to Americans. During WWI, Mark Cross designed the very first wristwatch and sold the first model in America. Mark Cross was known for the newest and finest products available.The products included leather goods, luggage, china, crystal, furniture, polo equipment and attire, men’s and women’s apparel, shoes, golf equipment and much more. Not only was Murphy a very skilled craftsman, but an incredible marketer. His efforts established the company’s luxury name. Murphy had two sons who started working for Mark Cross Co., Frederick and Gerald. Gerald married Sara Wiberg, the daughter of a wealthy industrialist, where the couple took up a residence on the French Riviera in 1921. 12 years in Europe led the Murphys to close friends, such as Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Picasso and Ernest Hemmingway. The characters Dick and Nicole Drive in Fitzgerald’s novel “Tender is the Night” were actually styled after the Murphys and their lifestyle on the Riviera. The Depression years did not do well for Mark Cross Co. and they were forced to move back to America in 1932. Mark Cross CO. was on the verge of bankruptcy when Gerald finally took it over, spending his remaining years as a shopkeeper. In 1948, Gerald sold the company to Drake America Cooperation. Eventually Sara Lee Cooperation acquired Mark Cross Co. and placed it under the Coach Leathergoods division. The plan was to add the “luxury” leather goods to the Coach product lines, but shortly after acquisition, Sara Lee closed 15 retail stores and discontinued catalogs and wholesale operations. It is believed that this decision was made in order to focus wholly on the Coach brand. In 1997, Mark Cross Co. was withdrawn from the market and announced that the company would be closed. After 151 years, Mark Cross Co. was discontinued.
Neal Fox revives Mark Cross.
In 2010, Mark Cross was reborn. Neal Fox, the company CEO, was exposed to Mark Cross brand early in his career and revived the brand. Fox wanted to keep the quality and history of Mark Cross Co. and infuse it with modern classics.