David H. McConnell: Beyond Avon

In researching items for my Etsy shop, I’ve discovered individuals who are truly inspiring.  Two earlier posts to this blog discussed two such men, Dr. Leonard Waldo and Mr. John Bowman.  Now I turn to David H. McConnell….

If the name is familiar, it might be because D. H. McConnell was the founder of Avon Products and earlier California Perfume Co. But what led me to Mr. McConnell wasn’t perfume but research on knives marked “So. Am. Silver Solid”….see picture below: 

Knives Marked “So. Am. Silver Solid”

So what exactly is “So. Am. Silver Solid” and who made it….???  Surprisingly, the search led me to this letter:

Letter from South American Silver Co., 126 Chambers St., New York, NY to Mr. T.E. McGarr, Secretary State Commissioners in Lunacy: November 13, 1897 (from Documents of the Assembly of the State of New York, Volume 17…Google Book):

“Dear Sir – We understand that you place your orders for table ware about the first of the year.  We venture to submit to you a sample of a new line of tableware, i.e. new in your department, for your examination.  We sent you a sample tea spoon yesterday, and will send you a sample knife t0-day or Monday.

“We would like to have you examine this ware very carefully and note its superior qualities in every respect.  In the first place, the ware is made of one solid piece of metal.  Therefore its life depends entirely upon the way it is used.  There is no plating to wear off, and after years of wear it will look as bright and clean as new, and when kept polished it will not tarnish any more radily than plated-ware, and will live very much longer.

“We should like to have you look carefully at the knife.  One particular feature in our knives, which are made from this metal, is this, they can be burnished, at any time; plated knives, or silver-plated knives cannot be burnished, and the silver will strip from the plating and they are ruined forever.  Please bear this fact in mind.  They are warranted never to show any signs of rust and more than solid sterling silver.  This is a high-grade table ware in every respect.  We are placing it with many of the largest hotels throughout the country.

“After receiving these two pieces, would you kindly advise us to whom we should submit samples for your next supply?”

What tied D. H. McConnell to South American Silver Co. was a letter sent on November 19, 1897, as a follow-up to the preceding letter, and this time the letter was signed “South American Silver Co. Per D. H. McConnell”. 

This letter references “Columbian silver tableware” stating “It is the only metal on the market we know of, outside of steel, of which a good knife can be made. It has but one competitor, that is, high-grade plated-ware, and this is better for service in every respect than the best grade of plated-ware on the market….We are very anxious to place this tableware in the state institutions.  This is the first time we have made any effort to do so, but the ware has been on the market, and has been used by some of the largest hotels for two years, and we speak confidently when we say that we believe that this ware will give very much better satisfaction than any other tableware that you can secure.”

Here’s an example of a 5 Cent marketing coupon for South American Silver Solid (recently sold at my Etsy shop) here http://www.etsy.com/listing/109404451/south-american-silver-solid-5-cents:

“Finest Tableware Made”

It was at this point that I connected this D. H. McConnell of the South American Silver Co. to that D. H. McConnell of California Perfume Co. and Avon Products.  What a surprise! 

An excellent site on the subject of the California Perfume Company and Mr. McConnell can be found here:  http://www.californiaperfumecompany.net/index.html

In 1877 David H. McConnell began working as an agent for a small company in Manhattan called the Union Publishing Company selling books, silverware and perfume.  Reference has been made that in 1879 he was a New York book selling agent.

 In 1889 it is mentioned that he was the manager since 1882 of the Union Pub. House…see the following:

Caspar’s Directory of the American book, news and stationery trade wholesale and retail in the United States and Canada by Carl Nicolaus Caspar published 1889 (Google Book):  “Union Pub. House, Inc. (H.E. Hayes, L. McConnell, D.H. McConnell, Mngr. Since 1882.  Est. 1876) Sub B P…126 Chambers, New York, N.Y. Branches: Portland, Me., Cincinnati, O. Pub. Spec.: Water World.” (The Water World:  Note Cincinnati location…. “Columbian Silver Co.” is apparently a trademark of Queen City Silver Company of Cincinnati.)

“On July 30, 1897, the New York Times announced the “Mutual Manufacturing Company of New York City, to manufacture jewelry, silverware, and household articles; capital stock, $3,000.  The directors were: Alexander D. Henderson, Elijah H. May of Brooklyn, and David H. McConnell of Suffern.” Per the Henderson Family and the California Perfume Company Printed on July 18, 2007 (Google docs.)

An August 17, 1897 Utica Observer ad reads “agents wanted for selling goods for Mutual Manufacturing Co., 126 Chambers Street.”  Similar ads were also in Rochester in Syracuse newspapers at same time.

Searching the internet, I did find silverplate hollow ware marked with “Mutual Manufacturing Co.” and also found pieces marked “D. H. McConnell & Co. NY”.

Following are excerpts from various Google books about the diversified interests of David H. McConnell:

October 26, 1898 Jewelers’ Circular D. H. McConnell & Co. 126 Chambers St. is noted for supplying aluminum goods.  (In response to a question…see photo below).

Aluminum Vol.37 page 30 1898

Of interest is the reference to Reymond & Gottlob in the answer above.  Per the following article from “Aluminum World” Volumes 1 – 3, Reymond & Gottlob (misspelled “Raymond” in the original ad) also manufactured gold aluminum table ware:

“RAYMOND & GOTTLOB’S NEW CATALOGUE: Raymond & Gottlob have issued a new thirty two page catalogue giving illustrations and descriptions of about every aluminum novelty on the market.  The catalogue is surely the work of months and will be found a handy text book for buyers.  Among the new goods is silverplated table ware on a solid nickel aluminum base. This ware will doubtless take well as it comes the nearest to solid silver of anything yet devised.  It is now made up in spoons, forks, ladles, knives etc.  The catalogue also shows a complete line of aluminum and gold aluminum table ware of the latest and finest designs.  All of the standard aluminum novelties are set forth in an attractive fashion. If any one intends to buy aluminum goods they can find out where to get them and how much to pay for them by sending for Raymond & Gottlob’s new catalogue.”

David H. McConnell filed for “SO. AM.” trademark on February 8, 1899 and it was issued on May 9, 1899.  The following was posted in the May 17,1899 issue of Jewelers Review, Vol. 32:

"So. Am. Trade Mark Obtained by David H. McConnell 1899"

“So. Am. Trade Mark Obtained by David H. McConnell 1899”

1901 Mecca Oil incorporated per 1922 Moodys Manual of railroads and corporation securities, Volume 2:  “Mecca Oil Co., Inc. Feb. 7, 1901, in N. J., to produce oil.  Property located at Bakersfield, Cal.  Production in 1921, 48,297 bbls.  At this point, in 1922 D. H. McConnell was listed as Chairman of Board and President, N.Y., W. H. Carey, V.P., Jersey City, NJ, C.C. Bowles, VP Bakersfield, Cal., A. D. Henderson, Sec. & Treas., NY, L. C. Bowles, Gen. Mgr. & Pur. Agt., Bakersfield, Cal,; W. J. Alley, Asst. Treas., Vauxhall, N.J.”

1909 “The Trow (formerly Wilson’s) Copartnership and Corporation Directory of New York”…lists “McConnell D. H. & Co. (David H. McConnell & Alexander D. Henderson) 126 Chambers”

David Hall McConnell was an extraordinary entrepreneur,  that is without a doubt.  But what about South American Silver Solid?  We know from Mr. McConnell’s November 19, 1897 letter that it was “Columbian silver”.    I’ve found seven different patterns of flatware marked “So. Am. Silver Solid”:

Patterns 1

But what was Columbian silver and who manufactured the flatware?

Columbian silver:

The following was taken from a December 1893 article in “The Metal  Worker” (Google Book) ….”The Columbian Silver Flat Ware Company, Unionville, Conn.,: Solid Columbian Silver Flat Ware.  The goods made of this substitute for solid silver include Knives, Forks and Spoons.  The ware is described as being nearly as white as sterling silver and it is stated that with as careful use as sterling silver it will outlast any flat ware on the market.  It is claimed that the knives are as good cutters as solid steel Knives, and that they never show any rust, and that they can be sharpened at any time.  The manufacturers warrant the goods to wear as white as sterling silver, to hold a temper equal to silver, and never to show any signs of rust.  Illustrations of the goods are shown in various patterns.”

In an 1896 article, The Dental Cosmos, (another Google Book) Dr. V. H. Jackson states: “I have several specimens here of a new metal alloy, which is known as Columbian silver.  It seems to be non-oxidizable, and works very much like German silver.  It probably is a similar combination….There is also a modification of this Columbian metal, that is called Montana gold.  I am not very familiar with it.  It is made by the addition of copper, and it takes a very beautiful gold-like finish, and is very cheap.  It is now being used for the manufacture of watch-cases and jewelry. ….It can be procured from J. L. Hitchcock, 753 Sixth Avenue, New York City.”

So, it appears that Columbian silver is a metal alloy very similar to German silver.  What is interesting is the mention of the gold like finish of this alloy with the addition of copper.  This sounds remarkably similar to the alloy described of an earlier post to this blog about Dr. Leonard Waldo. 

In the 1897 Odontographic Journal, Volume 17, Dr. V. H. Jackson’s exhibit included “…a collection of articles – knives, forks, spoons, napkin rings, button hooks, card cases, etc., plate and wire – the product of the Columbian Silver Manufacturing Company, of 753 Sixth Avenue, New York….  Dr. Jackson now uses Columbian silver wire almost exclusively.”

And from the Home Furnishing Review, Volume 9, 1897:  “Illustrated below are two samples of the wares manufactured by The Upson & Hart Company, Unionville, Conn.  The souvenir spoon is in quality, design and workmanship the peer of any ever shown on the market, and the other cut is a reproduction of one of their solid Columbian silver forks.  This factory is justly celebrated for the quality of its production in silver plated, nickel silver, solid and gold aluminum wares.  Their specialties in nut picks, nut cracks and toilet accessories are well and favorably known to the trade, but they are every day producing some novelty or adding to the usefulness or attractiveness of one or other of their staples.  The Upson & Hart Company will furnish and execute designs when requested or will manufacture to order any goods in their lines from design furnished.  For prices, discounts, etc. write to The Upson & Hart Company, Unionville, Conn.”

Following is an Upson & Hart ad from “The Connecticut Quarterly, April, May, June 1895, Vol. 1, No. 2” featuring what they refer to as a “Columbian Gold” spoon:

1895 The Conn.Magazine Vol.1

Following is a picture of what appears to be this pattern and marked “Nevada Gold Metal”.  Did Upson & Hart produce this and change the name from Columbian Gold or was this manufactured by someone else?  (Perhaps another McConnell brand name?)

Marked "Nevada Gold Metal"

Marked “Nevada Gold Metal”

I have six of these “Nevada Gold Metal” spoons in the pattern above listed here at my Etsy shop:  http://www.etsy.com/listing/119021830/circa-1890-nevada-gold-metal-6-roccoco

As quoted above, here is the actual article from “Home Furnishing Review” showing a souvenir spoon purportedly made by Upson & Hart.

1897 House Furnishing Review Vol.9a

Now here are two designs marked “Nevada Gold Metal”.  Note the souvenir spoon is the same as depicted in the above article and the second is the same pattern as represented earlier as a “South American Silver” pattern. (In fact, both were also made by “South American Silver”.

3 Nevada Gold Metal

Here’s a close-up of the souvenir spoon from another ad.  The bowl of the Nevada Gold handle above has the decoration as shown below:

1897 House Furnishing Review Vol.9

So was this second Unionville, Connecticut company somehow related to the “Columbian Silver Flat Ware Company” or was it a second company in the same town manufacturing Columbian silver flat ware?  This I don’t know and will continue to research.

I also found two references to Columbian silver in Strand Magazine Vol. 20, 1900, and Vol. 25, 1903.  J. G. Graves ads. 12 Division St., Sheffield, England.

For further information about Dr. Jackson see 1907 Transactions, New York Odontological Society (Google books) …comparisons of Columbian silver, platinoid wire and German silver.

To see South American Silver Solid knives available at my Etsy store, please click here:



The following picture shows various pieces of flatware marked “D. H. Mc C & Co.” in the “Rialto” pattern.  This flatware is of a golden hue similar to the “aluminum gold” flatware manufactured by Holmes & Edwards and marked “Waldo HE”.  These pieces show that not only was David H. McConnell involved in South American Silver Solid flatware, he was also involved in flatware with a goldish copper color. 

Although other companies produced flatware in this “Rialto” pattern, to the best of my knowledge Holmes & Edwards were the only ones to produce this pattern in what was called “gold aluminum”.  The January 30, 1895 issue of “The Jewelers Circular” stated in an article on Holmes & Edwards “Something entirely new, issued the first of December, is their “Gold Aluminum” ware.  This is made into spoons, forks and smaller fancy pieces, from an extremely pure and perfectly solid metal called “Gold Aluminum….These  come in Rialto pattern only.”

This so-called “gold aluminum” alloy was called “bronze aluminum” by Dr. Waldo and produced at the Waldo Foundry (see my separate post on Dr. Leonard Waldo).  This foundry went out of business sometime between 1902 and 1905.  Could it be that after the demise of the Waldo Foundry,  D. H. McConnell filled the void by providing a similar alloy, perhaps from the brass foundry in Meadville, PA which apparently was associated with Metal Corporation of which McConnell was involved.  This company was reorganized on March 22, 1910 as The Bronze Metal Company (Meadville, PA and 30 Church St., New York, NY) which McConnell was also associated with (a director).  This information was taken from Moody’s 1917.

"Rialto" Pattern Flatware Marked "D. H. Mc C & Co."

“Rialto” Pattern Flatware Marked “D. H. Mc C & Co.”

Following are photos of both the “Waldo HE” mark and the “D. H. Mc C & Co.” mark.  They are both within an elongated rectangular impressed mark, slightly narrower in the center than the ends and both have an embellishment within the corners. 

"D. H. Mc C & Co." Mark Compared With "Waldo HE Mark" on "Rialto" Pattern Flatware

“D. H. Mc C & Co.” Mark Compared With “Waldo HE Mark” on “Rialto” Pattern Flatware

I have since obtained iced tea spoons in the classic Windsor pattern also marked “D. H. Mc C. & Co.” and the mark is similar to those above…see photo below:

The "D. H. Mc C. & Co." Mark on Iced Tea Spoons

The “D. H. Mc C. & Co.” Mark on Iced Tea Spoons

Following is a teaspoon marked “D. H. Mc C & Co.” in the “Rialto” pattern that I currently have for sale at my Etsy shop here https://www.etsy.com/listing/118510292/unusual-collectors-spoon-d-h-mcconnell

dhmmc 009-35

And this is the link to my Etsy listing for the iced tea spoons pictured below https://www.etsy.com/listing/126692931/d-h-mc-c-co-david-h-mc-connell-iced-tea

D. H. Mc C. & Co. Iced Tea Spoons

D. H. Mc C. & Co. Iced Tea Spoons

Here’s an ad from the 1898 Official Manual of the National Association of Post Office Clerks of the United States (was this Nevada Gold Metal?  The “Rialto” pattern was also marked Nevada Gold Metal)  I also learned that “Gold Aluminum” is only .50 percent aluminum, and about 98 percent copper with no gold:

5 Official Manual of the National Association of Post Office Clerks of the U.S. 1898

FOOTNOTE:  During research, I came upon a diverse selection of David McConnell’s endeavors.

1909-1918    Directory of Directors in the city of New York (could not see the beginning of 1909 issue) provides the following listing of David H. McConnell interests:

McConnell Interests    31 Park Place   NY

Goetting & Co   1911, 1915, 1918

D. H. McConnell & Co. 1911, 1915, 1918

California Perfume   1911, 1915, 1918

Art Color Plate Engraving Co.   1915, 1918

Bon-Air Heights Co.   1911, 1915, 1918

Canada Farms   1911

G.W. Carnrick Co   1911, 1915, 1918

Hatfield Co.   1911

Mecca Oil Co.   1911, 1915, 1918

Mecca oil Co. No.2    1909, 1911, 1915, 1918

Metal Corporation   1909

Merchants Land & Dev. Co.   1911, 1915, 1918

Metal Plated Car & Lumber Co.   1909, 1911

Mutual Mfg. Co.   1909, 1911, 1915, 1918

Ramapo Land & Dev. Co.   1909, 1911, 1915, 1918

6 Mutual

Here’s a little more on D. H. McConnell’s interests.  Along the way, I came across the American Standard Measurement Co. (NJ), 96 Broadway, NYC (Trow’s March 1900, pg. 16), David H. McConnell is listed as President along with both Charles Hatfields in tow.  Finally, here’s a patent for their tape measure with David H. McConnell as an assignee:

8 Hatfield Tape Measuring Device-35

This has been a long journey….it started out with knives and ended up with a spoon.

This entry was posted in aluminum bronze, Avon Products, California Perfume Company, Columbian gold, Columbian silver, D H Mc C & Co, D. H. McConnell, David H. McConnell, Etsy, flatware, gold aluminum, holmes & edwards, Mecca Oil, Nevada Gold Metal, rialto, silver, silverplate, so. am. silver solid, south american silver solid, Uncategorized, Union Publishing, Upson & Hart and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to David H. McConnell: Beyond Avon

  1. leejoe says:

    An outstanding share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a coworker who has been conducting a little research on this. And he actually bought me dinner because I stumbled upon it for him… lol. So allow me to reword this…. Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending some time to discuss this subject here on your web page.

  2. Pingback: The Smiths of Bridgeport | queenofsienna

  3. Tamara Dameron says:

    I have a piece of tableware, a soupspoon I believe. I would like to know the pattern name and manufacture date. You have a picture of a knife with the identical pattern. It is the second pic. it’s marked So. Am. Silver Solid. Thank you

    • inourimage says:

      Hi, Tamara. I’m not exactly sure which photo you’re referring to… The first photo in the post is of two knives with the blades marked “So. Am. Silver Solid.” The handle is in a classic beaded pattern which is very similar to the 1895 “Beaded Leaf” pattern by American Silver Co. However, although it is similar to this pattern, I’m not positive it is this pattern. I’ve got these knives listed for sale at my Etsy shop and if he click here you can see other photos of the handles: http://www.etsy.com/listing/106626010/two-south-american-silver-solid-fruit

      The second photo in the post is of the coupon. The third photo shows three handles. Unfortunately I have not been able to identify the first pattern in this grouping. The second handle is the 1897 “Unique” pattern manufactured by Holmes & Edwards. The third pattern is very similar and looks like it possibly is a variation of the Derby Silver Co. “Harvest / Sheaf of Wheat” pattern; I don’t have a date for this but it is a late 1800’s pattern.

      The fourth photo shows four handles. Unfortunately I don’t have a pattern name or manufacturer for the simple pattern shown first. The second handle is the 1901 William Rogers pattern “Orleans”. The third handle is similar to that same 1895 “Beaded Leaf” pattern of American Silver Co. that I mentioned earlier. The last one is the 1900 pattern “Linden” also known as “Eudora” manufactured by Wm. A. Rogers, 1881 Rogers and U.S. Silver Co.

      I hope this helps. Also, there are two websites that are marvelous for silverplate flatware identification. The first is http://www.silverpattern.com/patterns_in_silverplate.htm. This site lists the patterns alphabetically by name and is continually updated. The second site is http://sterlingflatwarefashions.com/SPPatterns where you can search patterns by manufacturer.

  4. renee stapel says:

    cool I did not know that

  5. Carleton Hutchins says:

    I’ve been wondering about the history of my Brass soup spoon…
    Patented Apr. 94 (1894) by D H Mc C & Co
    Thanks so much for your research!

  6. jennifer says:

    so the so am solid silver dh is aluminum plated in silver ?

  7. Karla says:

    So excited to stumble upon your research!! I have inherited a large mishmash of silver from my MIL…she was a flea market junkie! I hardly know where to begin and it’s so very frustrating to try to figure out what exactly I’m dealing with. I came across two pieces of the Gold aluminum, (serving spoon and ladle, Rialto pattern) that you have pictured. My dilemma is trying to determine value. What would be the best resource to find fair market on these types of pieces? Thanks for all the info on McConnell, it was really helpful.

    • queenofsienna says:

      Karla, if your Rialto pieces have the McConnell mark, then there might be an Avon collector who might be interested in them. It’s difficult to estimate a market value on this and silverplate in general (I’m not an appraiser) as fashions and interests change. I am glad you found the McConnell blog helpful.

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