Here begins a series of articles on early silver plate production in Hartford, Connecticut. (This blog is a way for me to keep my notes organized) First we must travel a little north to the “Ames Mfg. Co.” at “Cabotville” or “Chicopee” Massachusetts. Below are some reprints from various publications that may shed some light on the subject. The story starts like this “Mr. Ames goes to Europe, brings back a battery and lets Mr. Mead play with it.”
Below is a brief history from: “Philadelphia and its Manufactures” by Edwin T. Freedley printed in 1859.
Note that on page 349 Mr. N. P. Ames is asked to go to England and Germany. Below are a few paragraphs on the Ames brothers from “Sketches of the Old Inhabitants and Other Citizens of Old Springfield” by Charles Wells Chapin printed in 1893.
Note that above it is stated that James “was one the first to engage in silver plating in this country”.
An old drawing of the mill at Cabotville:
Below is another perspective from “The Ames Century 1829-1929”
The battery seems to be the key. It’s a bit too technical for me, but here is a little from “Elements of Electro-Metallurgy” by Alfred Smee written in 1841. (note the holloware in the lower most woodcut – Smee calls it a “vessel to be gilt”)
A later catalog listing for “Smee’s Galvanic Battery” from “Chemical Handicraft” presented by “John Joseph Griffin & Sons” in 1877:
Below is an excerpt from”Leading Pusuits and Leading Men” by Edwin T. Freedley printed in 1856. For more from this book please see my last post entitled “Freedley 1856 Silver Plated Wares”. This clip also relates to an earlier post on Cowles and Spoonville – “The Search for Spoonville” https://queenofsienna.wordpress.com/2013/08/27/the-search-for-spoonville/
Above Freedley states that Mead was involved with others, like the Rogers brothers. Finding an actual example of an article produced by Rogers & Mead is difficult, to say the least. James Douglas, of the James Douglas Gallery, Antiques & Art, ( jamesdouglasgallery.com ) was kind enough to share the following images:
This spoon (with an extremely rare mark) can be found at the James Douglas Gallery (listed on eBay) if you’re quick:
A couple of examples shown below indicate James Mead’s willingness, at least at first, to share.
Above from The Connecticut Historical Society.
Below 1843-44 shows that Goodwin is without Mead though still “Electro plating”:
- Born: 11 Sep 1787, Hartford CT
- Marriage: Mary Ramsey on 29 Nov 1812 in Hartford CT
- Died: 14 May 1864, Hartford CT
There is more on Horace here: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~silversmiths/makers/silversmiths/9404.htm
- Born: 5 Aug 1797, Hartford CT
- Marriage: Emily Fenn on 10 Nov 1822 in Hartford CT
- Died: 7 Jan 1869, Hartford CT
In 1851 he is listed as a “pistol plater,” doing contract work for gun manufacturers like Colt Arms. See my post on “Wethersfield Avenue” https://queenofsienna.wordpress.com/2013/11/07/wethersfield-avenue/ to read about Samuel Colt and the Colt Armory; Allyn is listed below, and please see link on Horace at the wonderful freepages site above.
Also involved with the Goodwins was Sumner Smith. He married Horace Goodwin’s daughter. He was listed in “Geer’s Vol. 8 of 1845 as a Horologist at 166 Main St. (same address in the Horace Goodwin ad above)
- Born: 1 Nov 1811, Brighton MA
- Marriage: Mary Goodwin on 15 Apr 1841 in Hartford CT
- Died: 29 Dec 1847, Hartford CT
Advertised in the Hartford Times (Hartford CT), 1842, that he has discovered “the art of Gilding, Silvering, etc. by Galvanism, and any person wishing information may obtain it” from him for a small fee.
Above from: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~silversmiths/makers/silversmiths/5997.htm
Another Mead partnership in Hartford:
In the above list John O. Mead is still being represented in Hartford by S.B.Woodward.(list is from”New England Merchantile Union Business Directory” for 1849) Perhaps he moved to Philadelphia because of the use there of higher quality silver (content). (see footnote in first article) His children were supposedly born there, but John is not listed in the 1839 or 1840 city directories.
Notice in the ad below “oldest and most experienced ELECTRO PLATERS”. Ad is from “Presbyterian Banner and Advocate” April 18 1857.
From here, we should take a look at William Hazen Rogers in the next post. He too, was involved with John O. Mead. More on Hartford to come.