This post starts like many of my other posts…I was doing research on a piece of silverplate and come across some interesting information. The piece of silverplate was a cream pitcher marked “Wm. Rogers Mfg.” and the pattern was #1225. I had a cream pitcher in this same pattern, also marked as pattern #1225, but the manufacturer name stamped on this pitcher was “C. Rogers & Bros.” Did Wm. Rogers produce the blanks and then C. Rogers apply the decorative bright cut work? If Wm. Rogers produced these blanks, did he also make flatware for C. Rogers as well? Or what?
Upon further research I found evidence that not only is this often the case, but sometimes manufacturers find themselves being challenged in court over the use of backstamps.
An interesting example that includes C. Rogers & Bros. is a court case between Meriden Britannia and Charles Parker. Charles Parker manufactured silverplate for C. Rogers & Bros. The backstamp he used was “C. Rogers & Bros. A1” Meriden Britannia thought this was too similar to their “Rogers Bros. A1” trade-mark, was deceptive, and took issue with it. The following article explains the issues of the case and the court’s finding. It makes for very interesting reading and also provides an excellent background on the history of Meriden Britannia. The following was taken from the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, 1874:
Note: I have a separate post on the Boardman v. Meriden Britannia case mentioned above.
Charles Parker seemed to stop producing flatware about the same time that C. Rogers & Brothers started. Did C. Rogers purchase Charles Parker’s equipment?
Here is a little on C.Rogers & Bros. starting with their building on Butler street in Meriden.
The pictue above and the following were taken from a 1906 book “An Historic Record and Pictorial Description of the Town of Meriden” by Charles Bancroft Gillespie and George Munson Curtis
So who is C. Rogers and who are his brothers? C. (Cephas) Rogers was the oldest of four brothers. He was born in Old Saybrook, CT in 1836. His brothers were Gilbert, born 1838, Wilbur, born 1841 and Nathanial, born 1848. Cephas was originally involved in the hotel business (as was his father who had moved the family to Meriden) which allowed him to be involved with many influential people, including Abraham Lincoln. He had moved to New York, but due to illness, he returned to Meriden and it appears his brothers convinced him to start his own silverplate business.
The following on Cephas, Gilbert and Wilbur comes from Gillespie & Curtis mentioned above.
“Cephas Brainerd Rogers one of Meriden’s most successful business men and the senior of the once well known firm of C Rogers & Bros was born in Saybrook Conn December 30 1836. His parents Harvey and Elizabeth Tryon Rogers moved to Meriden to engage in the hotel business when their son Cephas was thirteen years of age. Previous to the Civil War Mr Rogers engaged as a clerk in the New Haven House which hostelry was the rendezvous of distinguished men of the state and nation in political military and educational circles and he became acquainted with many notable men among them was Abraham Lincoln. Still later Mr Rogers took charge of the Wadavvanock House a summer hotel in Stonington Conn and soon after manager of the St Denis Hotel New York City. He was very successful in both enterprises. However, due to poor health he returned to Meriden, where with his brothers in February 1866 the partnership of C Rogers & Bros was organized for the manufacture of silver plated goods. Beginning in a small factory the business advanced rapidly until the name of C Rogers & Bros on spoons knives and forks became known throughout the world for quality and beauty of design. The business of C Rogers & Bros was successfully carried on for nearly forty years.
“Gilbert Rogers began his business career as a boy of fourteen years when he became employed by Luther Webb at whose factory pocketbooks were then extensively made. After two years he entered the factory of Chas Parker where he remained for five years during which time he learned the trade of finishing flat ware. In 1858 he removed to Hartford where he was employed by the Hartford Silver Plating Company but later by Rogers, Smith & Co He was afterwards made superintendent of one of the departments of the Rogers Bros silver plating factory at Waterbury but after two years he formed a partnership with Asa H Rogers and engaged in the manufacture of silver plated spoons and hollow ware in a factory on Nassau street New York City. Like many other concerns when the Civil War broke out business operations were suspended and Mr Rogers returning to Meriden received the appointment as US enrolling officer which duties he fulfilled for the government for one year. It was in 1866 that with his brothers the concern of C Rogers & Bros was formed. Building a factory on Butler street now owned by the International Silver Co they first engaged in the manufacture of casket hardware, shrouds etc Later the firm began making plated forks spoons knives etc and built up as enviable a reputation as any concern in this country During the World’s fair at the Centennial exposition held in Philadelphia in 1876 Mr Rogers had charge of the C.Rogers & Bros exhibit.
“Wilbur Fiske Rogers a distinguished member of the Grand Army and until his retirement a leading manufacturer of Meriden was born in Saybrook Connecticut July 18 1841. While he was still a boy he moved to Meriden and after attending school here secured work at the Chas Parker factory being only twelve years of age at that time. He soon became very skillful as a silver plater and worked at that trade until 1861 At the outbreak of the Civil War Mr Rogers while working at his trade in New York city was one of the first to respond to the call of his country. In 1865 he returned to Meriden where he formed a partnership with his two elder brothers known as C Rogers & Brothers.”
Nathaniel Burton Rogers Born July 6 1848 in Saybrook CT. He was a partner with Cephas, Gilbert and Wilbur in Danbury CT as Rogers Silver Plate Co.. The firm specialized in novelty goods, such as jewelry boxes, book ends, ashtrays, pin cushions, etc. In 1899 he became an officer when the two companies were incorporated.
“The Directors and Officers of the New Corporation of C Rogers & Bros Meriden Conn Jan 30 The act of consolidating the Rogers Silver Plate Co of Danbury with C Rogers & Bros this city and the forming of a joint stock company with a capital of $1,000,000 was completed at the meeting of the interested parties in New York yesterday The new company took the old and well established name of the Meriden concern C Rogers & Bros. Directors were elected as follows Cephas B Rogers Gilbert Rogers Wilbur F Rogers and George F Rogers of Meriden N Burton Rogers and G Mortimer Rundle of Danbury and Arthur J Baldwin of East Orange NJ The directors met and elected these officers President Cephas B Rogers vice president N Burton Rogers treasurer Gilbert Rogers secretary Wilbur F Rogers executive committee Cephas B Rogers Gilbert Rogers and N Burton Rogers The headquarters will be in Meriden Mr Rundle who has been elected a director is an ex mayor of Danbury and Mr Baldwin is a member of the prominent law firm of Dill Seymour & Baldwin of New York city.” From The Jewelers’ Circular and Horological Review Volume 38 Feb 1 1899
Another reference: “History of New Haven County, Connecticut” by John L. Rochey (Cephas page 612)
Gilbert and Wilbur seem to be the driving force behind the formation of a silver plating company as they both worked for Charles Parker, as well as a number of other well known silverplating companies.
Their young cousin, Arthur, obtained many patents that were apparently manufactured by C. Rogers as well as Wm. Rogers Mfg. and Aurora Silver Plate Mfg. (noted below by a “W” for Wm. Rogers or an “A” for Aurora). This information was referenced from Sterling Flatware Fashions website http://sterlingflatwarefashions.com/SPPatterns/CRogers.html.
Julius Wilbur Rogers (Sr.) Nov. 20 1877 received patent 197,408 “Electro-Plating Frame”
Julius Wilbur Rogers patent shows that as C. Rogers & Bros. started they were still making coffin trimmings. Julius also has patent USD 11799. His father was the administrator.
Another interesting Patent from 1877
Here are a few more bits about C.Rogers, The United States Silver Corp. and International.
As I started this post with a question, the question still remains: Why did Wm. Rogers and Aurora make patents by Arthur and assigned to C. Rogers? Did Wm. Rogers actually make them for C. Rogers and Aurora? Or perhaps Wm. Rogers Mfg. used C.Rogers’ dies once moved into their (C. Rogers) old building by International after 1903. I’ll have to keep looking into this mystery. More to come.
I do have the C. Rogers creamer in the beautiful chased cherry design shown in the lead photo for sale here at my Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/listing/158276102/c-rogers-bros-aesthetic-silver-plate
I also have this same design in a four piece set manufactured by Wm. Rogers Mfg. here at my Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/listing/158570416/wm-rogers-mfg-aesthetic-silver-plated
And a bon bon basket in this design by Wm. Rogers Mfg. here: https://www.etsy.com/listing/158206034/wm-rogers-mfg-silver-plated-bon-bon
If anyone has information they can share, I’d be delighted to hear from you.