Luther Boardman and Son

L. Boardman & Son Works at East Haddam, CT, circa 1872: Mill 1872 It is rare to find flatware manufactured by L. Boardman & Son on the market today.  They produced quality merchandise and were early (1840) Connecticut River Valley manufacturers. The following was taken from the 1884 book “The History of Middlesex County, Connecticut” by J. B. Beers: “Foremost to-day among the manufactures of nickel, silver, and silver plated flat goods, stands the firm of Luther Boardman & Son, of East Haddam, Connecticut.  Mr. Luther L. Boardman was born in Rocky Hill, Conn., December 26th 1812, and at the age of 16 years, or in 1828, entered the employ of Mr. Ashbel Griswold, of Meriden, Conn., and in the spring of 1840 we find him upon his own resources, engaged in the manufacture of britannia spoons in a small building where now stands  the shop of William D. Clark, of Chester. “On the 3d of May 1842, the works were moved to East Haddam, and Mr. Boardman took possession of the ground he now occupies. In 1865 he built his new shop, a commanding structure, 100 by 40 feet, and introduced a Kilbourn & Lincoln turbine wheel, and a thirty-horse power steam engine. The plating of britannia goods commenced at this shop in 1857, and the manufacture of nickel silver goods in 1865. The visitor at these works will be astonished at the endless variety of electro plated flat goods which are here produced.  Their nickel tinned goods embrace the same large and tasteful assortment. Mr. Norman Boardman was born in East Haddam, August 5th 1840, and after receiving all the advantages of an academic education was admitted into partnership with his father, January 1st 1864. When in full operation this firm employs fifty operatives, with a monthly pay roll amounting to about $3,000.” It should be noted here that Luther married Lydia Ann Frary on Oct. 18 1838. She was the younger sister of James Ashbel Frary, one of the founding members of Meriden Britannia. “The Old Chimney Stacks of East Haddam, Middlesex County, Connecticut” By Hosford Buel Nils published by Lowe & Co. 1887 adds more information: “Luther Boardman, born in Rocky Hill (CT), commenced manufacturing britannia spoons in a small building in Chester; moved to East Haddam in 1842. Their extensive works are located at Goodspeed’s Landing. When in full operation they employ fifty operatives with a monthly pay roll of $3,000. Mr Boardman has been prominent in town and State affairs. His son, Norman L, was admitted to the firm soon after he became of age and has always been active in the management of the business.  He (Norman) married the oldest daughter of Daniel B Warner and built a fine residence near his father. Both father and son and their wives are always liberal in works of practical benevolence and are widely known throughout the State. “James S. Ray, a native of Haddam, worked at Boardman’s for a number of years and about 1852 started for himself in a small shop at Goodspeed’s Landing. Being shrewd and having an inventive genius he prospered and builded greater until he established a fine business in spoons, forks, coffin trimmings, etc.  Some years ago he bought a farm on the hill overlooking the village put up a fine residence and devoted himself to farming. He also built a yacht and spends considerable time in summer on the water. Boardman and Ray are neighbors and good friends.” I included the part about James Ray as Mr. Ray had worked for L. Boardman before starting in business for himself, manufacturing similar goods as Boardman in the same town.  Luther remained good friends with Ray (despite the fact that Ray was in competition with him).  Sounds like Luther Boardman was a very nice man! The following was taken from this website: “The two mansions were built by Luther Boardman and his son, Norman Boardman. The former, constructed about 1860, is a pure example of the Italian Villa style; while the latter, built ten or fifteen years later, is considerably more eclectic, having a Second Empire tower with cast-iron cresting, and a porch across the front and one side supported by Gothic Revival clustered columns and braces.”

Norman Boardman House

Norman Boardman House

Luther Boardman House

Luther Boardman House

If you recall, it was stated in the J. B. Beers book that Luther’s son, Norman, went into partnershp with his father on January 1st, 1864 after he had completed his schooling.  There have been conflicting reports of the two Boardman mansions within the town of East Haddam…exactly who built which house.  Since Norman was still in school and not yet employed in 1860 when the first mansion was built, it would be logical that the mansion built that year (1860) was built by Luther.  The quote above supports this.  This beautiful house is currently a well known and highly praised B&B. is an excellent site from which the following was taken: “Luther Boardman was another individual of local importance. He was born in 1812 and was apprenticed at the age of 16 at Meriden to learn the trade of making britannia holloware. An apt pupil, he moved to Chester after his apprenticeship and established his own britannia factory. In 1842, he removed his business to East Haddam where he successfully engaged not only in britannia production, but also in the manufacture of nickel, silver, and silver-plated goods. Boardman was a pioneer in producing britannia and plated ware of a quality which matched or surpassed imported goods, thereby insuring their acceptance among American consumers. “As his business prospered, Boardman became involved in other enterprises. He was a vice president of the Connecticut Valley Railroad, a director of the National Bank of New England, and president of the Hartford and Long Island Steamboat Company. He was a member of the Connecticut General Assembly (1864-65), and remained active in state and local affairs until his death in 1887.” Patent 2802 Oct 7 1842 Patent No. 8102 Wire-Strengthened Spoons What is of interest is that L. Boardman & Son sued Meriden Britannia for trademark infringement in 1868.  At this point there were no registered trademarks in the U.S.  The “trademark” was the label design and item numbers used by L. Boardman.  This was an example of L. Boardman’s label as presented in the court case:Vol.35 1868 pg.405 And this was an example of Meriden Britannia’s label.  You’ll note the similar graphics and identical item number. Vol.35 1868 pg.406 The following was taken from “Connecticut Reports: Proceedings in the Supreme Court, September Term 1868”: Boardman v. Meriden Britannia & Co. “The petitioners Luther Boardman and Norman S Boardman are partners under the name of L Boardman & Son and ever since the formation of the copartnership in 1863 have carried on the business of manufacturing britannia spoons of various styles and sizes in the town of East Haddam in Middlesex County. In the year 1844 Luther Boardman commenced the business in the same place and carried it on alone down to the time when the corpartnership was formed. The petitioners by the exercise of care, skill and expenditure of money have succeeded in producing spoons of a superior and desirable quality and have been accustomed for many years to prepare and put up the spoons so manufactured by them in boxes packed, labelled and numbered in the manner hereinafter shown. Luther Boardman, while carrying on the business alone put up and packed his spoons in boxes of the same style and colors with these and adopted these labels and the numbers printed thereon for the purpose of distinguishing the spoons of his manufacture from all other britannia spoons sold in market, and these labels with the numbers thereon, had been used by him and by L Boardman & Son for a period of from twelve to twenty years prior to the year 1866 and during that time no other manufacturer used the same numbers except that the numbers 1 2 and 3 were used by all manufacturers to denote the size of spoons and the number 50 had been used by a manufacturer by the name of Mix but upon a different kind and style of spoons from those made by the petitioner. Green labels with black borders were common to all manufacturers of spoons and to some extent steel colored labels were in use by other manufacturers but no manufacturers during this time used labels precisely similar to those of the petitioners and none used the same numbers except as above stated. The use of numbers was also common to all manufacturers of spoons and hollow ware to indicate the size style and quality of the articles made by them. Luther Boardman devised the size, shape and embellishment of the steel colored labels. The labels in connection with the name L Boardman’s, and especially the numbers thereon, constituted the only trade marks under which the petitioners introduced their spoons into market. Under these labels and numbers their spoons had become generally know in market and had obtained a good reputation and there had grown up a large demand for them and they were known by their respective numbers and were generally ordered bought and sold by the numbers on the labels. “From the year 1853 to the year 1866 the respondents (Meriden Britannia) had been accustomed to purchase large quantities of spoons of the petitioners (L. Boardman) put up labelled and numbered in this way for the purpose of selling the same to their own customers and during this time they purchased and sold the spoons of the petitioners to the amount of $138,000. During this period the respondents were accustomed to advertise the spoons of Boardman for sale on their published trade lists by their respective numbers the numbers representing the spoons of no other manufacturer but Boardman but the name of Boardman did not appear on the trade lists nor was there any thing on the trade lists to indicate who was the maker of the spoons except the numbers. “In the year 1866 the respondents began to manufacture britannia spoons similar in character to those made by the petitioners though differing somewhat in style or pattern and prepared labels resembling those of the petitioners except that their own name was substituted for that of L Boardman and adopted the same numbers that had been adopted by the petitioners adapting the numbers to similar kinds of spoons.  A sample of these labels is hereinafter given. The spoons so manufactured by the respondents were put up and packed by them in boxes wrapped in manilla paper and in all substantial respects were prepared for market in the same manner with the spoons of the petitioners before sold by them….” L. Boardman fought Meriden Britannia and won!   “When the respondents adopted Boardman’s numbers it enabled them to fill the orders which they received for Boardman’s spoons by sending their own of the same number and thus appropriate to their benefit the good reputation which the petitioners had acquired and the profits to which the petitioners were entitled.  And it can make no difference with the petitioners whether the respondents counterfeited their trade marks because they designed to defraud or because they supposed they had a right to counterfeit them….  In this case it must be remembered that the most prominent valuable and distinctive feature in the trademark was the numbers as the petitioners spoons had become known in market and were ordered bought and sold by. Any mark or device which serves to distinguish the manufacture of one man from all others possesses all the elements a trade mark and may be used as such. It is expressly found that Boardman adopted these numbers for this purpose and that for more than twelve years they did serve this purpose and until his goods had become known in market by these numbers and were generally ordered, bought and sold by them……    We advise judgment for the petitioners In this opinion the other judges concurred.” Patent Design 2794 1867 You’ll note that one of the witnesses to the above design patent is “Geo. S. Richmond”.  What struck me funny is that in the lower left column of the image below, the “second quality” britannia spoons are labeled “Geo. S. Richmond”.  What did poor George do to have his name associated with second quality merchandise.  I did find that George acquired a patent for a “book holder” (Pat. 359,180) but, otherwise, I could not find much else about him.  Sanitary&Heating Age 1875 A new term (to me at least) “Argentine” is mentioned in the listing above.  The following photo, taken from “theboardmancollection” website linked earlier in this post,  shows an 1872 price list including “Argentine Spoons”.  I believe that the term “Argentine” was patented and had been in used in England since the 1830’s.  9653422_orig1 1872 Luther Boardman died in 1887 and Norman continued the business for several years. On January 1st, 1900, Norman Boardman’s son, Eugene, became a partner in the firm.  However, upon entering the new Century, the company was a shell of its former self.   In 1907, after leasing the factory to another company, a fire broke out and destroyed the main office and factory, fatally crippling the company.  Following is an ad from a 1905 issue of “Hardware: Devoted to the American Hardware Trade” shows that they were still in business and advertising in 1905. Hardware 1905-6 It is without a doubt that L. Boardman & Son produced some beautiful flatware.  The following photo was taken from that same “theboardmancollection” website: blog I recently sold flatware manufactured by Boardman in the “Warwick” pattern at my Etsy shop: warwick 003-35 The “Breton” pattern forks shown below are available at my Etsy shop here: lb 002-35 The delicate little touch of floral and geometric design on this Boardman bar spoon really sets it apart!  It’s available here:

L. Boardman & Son Twisted Handle Bar Spoon

L. Boardman & Son Twisted Handle Bar Spoon

Another interesting spoon from L. Boardman & Son. Here’s another early Boardman patent: patent 3380 And another Boardman patent: Patent No. 104822 Improvement in Spoon-MoldsFollowing is a selection of Boardman patterns that have been found in various resources; being coded as such: 1872 BH = Bill Head from Boardman Collection,                                                                    E.Cat. = Early Catalogue Pages from Boardman Collection,                                                  1875 S&HA = Sanitary & Heating Age 1875                                                                               NT-26 = Noel Turner’s book “American Silver Flatware” page 26,                                       1880 IC-NT = Boardman’s Illustrated Catalog from Noel Turner                                         BCP = Boardman Collection Photo                                                                                               SFF = Sterling Flatware Fashions website 


Albata – Breton

Albata – 1875 S&HA, NT-26                                                                                             American – 1872 BH, 1875 S&HA, 1880 IC-NT                                                                Beaded  – 1875 S&HA, 1880 IC-NT, E.Cat., SFF                                                              Bismark  – 1872 BH, 1875&HA                                                                                               Breton – 1880 IC-NT, SFF 

Brunswick - Eureka

Brunswick – Eureka

  Brunswick – 1875 S&HA, 1880 IC-NT, E.Cat.                                                                    Colonial – SFF                                                                                                                        Congress – SFF                                                                                                                       Doulton – SFF                                                                                                                          Eureka – 1875 S&HA

French - Imperial

French – Imperial

French – 1880 IC-NT, SFF  (Similar to Round Handle)                                                    French Tipped – 1875 S&HA, 1880 IC-NT  (may also be called Oval Threaded)          Geneva – SFF                                                                                                                          Grecian – 1875 S&HA                                                                                                            Imperial – 1880 IC-NT, SFF Medallion Oval Medallion – 1867 Patent, 1875 S&HA, E.Cat., SFF  (Patent Design No. 2794)          Medallion II – 1880 IC-NT                                                                                                         Olive – 1875 S&HA, NT-26, E.Cat, SFF                                                                                   Olive II – 1880 IC-NT  (Called New Pattern in 1880)                                                            Oval Tipped – NT-26  ( note there is no edge or border as on French Tipped)                  Oval Threaded – see French Tipped Persian Star Persian – 1880 IC-NT, SFF (Variation of other Persian design, note B&Son mark)       Rogers – SFF  (also with “Patterson Brothers” backstamp)                                                  Round Handle – 1872 BH, 1875 S&HA, NT-26  (Similar to French)                                  Silver – 1872 BH, 1875 S&HA, 1880 IC-NT                                                                              Star – Private Collection Tipped Wilton Threaded – see Albata (maybe the same)                                                                           Tipped – 1872 BH, 1875 S&HA, E.Cat., SFF                                                                        Tipped Dessert – 1875 S&HA, NT-26  (similar or the same as Tipped)                       Warwick – 1880 IC-NT, SFF, BCP (Similar to Angelo/Saratoga)                                     Wilton – SFF, BCP UnknownUnknown – Private Collection                                                                                             Unknown – BCP    (also with “B. Co.” backstamp)                                                         Unknown – BCP 1889 Advertisement below is from “Iron Age” Vol. 43 page 57

1889 Ad

1889 Ad

Note in the ad above that a julep strainer is shown in the lower left corner.  I have a variation of this strainer, manufactured by L. Boardman, available here at my Etsy shop (SORRY, THIS STRAINER HAS SINCE SOLD!):

L. Boardman & Son Julep Strainer

L. Boardman & Son Julep Strainer

In Harry Johnson’s 1888 book “The New and Improved Illustrated Bartender’s Manual”, within the recipe for “Old Style Whiskey Smash” he states “…place the strainer in the glass and serve.”  There is an illustration showing a Fancy Brandy Smash being served with a strainer and a long twist handle bar spoon.  The strainer is depicted as being served bowl side down (convex side up) in that illustration.  So the recipient of this drink would then proceed to drink through the strainer as shown, bowl side down?  I wasn’t certain about that, but this recipe and illustration certainly show that this concoction was intended to be drunk through the sifter.  The illustration of the served drink shows the leaves and fruit in that glass… thus the purpose for the strainer.  I tested this concave side down and convex side up positioning of the strainer in a glass to see for myself how it looked.  One side of the strainer dipped down a little into the glass.  I positioned my hand to pick up the glass and I had a Eureka moment.  Perfect positioning!  The strainer allowed the person drinking to comfortably sip the liquid while the strainer was holding back the leaves, fruit and ice.  I understood why Harry Johnson served the drink with the strainer positioned this way.  This strainer would also be advantageous for those with mustaches…no more unsightly mint leaves dangling above your lip!  The following picture shows the Boardman strainer on the right.

Boardman Julep Strainer Held in Glass

Boardman Julep Strainer Held in Glass

An 1896 ad follows: 1896 Boardman1 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The illustration above shows the L. Boardman & Son factories in 1880.

1880 Map

1880 Map of East Haddam, Connecticut

You can see both Boardman houses in the above map.

Section from Ronald R. Switzer's Book "The Steamboat Bertrand and Missouri River Commerce"

Section from Ronald R. Switzer’s Book “The Steamboat Bertrand and Missouri River Commerce”

Ronald R. Switzer in his book “The Steamboard Bertrand and Missouri River Commerce” mentions that one or more spoons found in the cargo of the Steamboat Bertrand were hallmarked “L. Boardman”.

1867 Medallion Pattern Spoon Bracelet

1867 Medallion Pattern Spoon Bracelet

The photo above shows a vintage spoon bracelet made from L. Boardman & Son’s 1867 Medallion pattern which I have for sale at my Etsy shop:  

This entry was posted in antique, antiques, boardman house, Breton, east haddam ct, etsy vintage, julep strainer, L. Boardman, luther boardman, Meriden Britannia, silver, silver plate, silverplate, star julep strainer, trademark, Uncategorized, Windsor and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Luther Boardman and Son

  1. patricia says:

    I have Boardman & Son Sugar spoon, COLONIAL. Do you have an estimate of it’s value

    • queenofsienna says:

      Patricia, Colonial is a relatively rare Boardman pattern. I have never seen an actual example of it and thus no comparable sales history.

  2. Mary Lou Pickering says:

    I have 6 L. Boardman and son Rogers pattern soup spoons. Excelent condition. They are monogramed NB. Any value to them?

    • queenofsienna says:

      Hello. I obtained a Luther Boardman catalog after I wrote this post and they spell “Rogers” with a “d” … “Rodgers”. This is a lovely aesthetic pattern that is hard to find. The “NB” could possibly be “Norman Boardman”(Luther’s son). Just speculation but you never know. If you find the right person, I would think you could get in the area of $20 a piece, particularly if their name is Boardman.

    • queenofsienna says:

      Just thinking…if you’d like to send me photos, I’d be happy to put them in my blog and anyone interested could contact you. My email is

  3. Pingback: Edward Rorke & Co. Julep Strainer – Behind The Bar

  4. Pingback: Two Star Julep Strainers – Behind The Bar

  5. Josh says:

    How can I find information on a couple pieces I came across? They are shot glasses with Yale University printed inside

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