Business: Old Credit Raters

After his Manhattan silk house went to the wall in the panic of 1837, Lewis Tappan, casting around for a new deal, hit on the idea of selling his knowledge of other people's businesses. His Mercantile Agency grew into the largest credit rating firm in the world. Before the Civil War it was acquired by R. G. Dun who changed the official name to R. G. Dun & Co., The Mercantile Agency. He developed the art of dispassionate snooping & prying during the next 40 years until today R. G. Dara & Co. has...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!