Ames, Mead & Smee – The Beginnings of Silverplate in Hartford

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.

Philadelphia and Its Mfg. 1859

Philadelphia and Its Mfg. 1859

Philadelphia and Its Mfg. 1859

Philadelphia and Its Mfg. 1859

Philadelphia and Its Mfg. 1859

Philadelphia and Its Mfg. 1859

Philadelphia and Its Mfg. 1859

Philadelphia and Its Mfg. 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.

Springfield 1893 pg.23

Springfield 1893 pg.23

Springfield 1893 pg.24

Springfield 1893 pg.24

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:

Ames Cabotville

Ames Cabotville

Springfield 1893 pg.25

Springfield 1893 pg.25

Below is another perspective from “The Ames Century 1829-1929”

The Ames Century 1829-1929

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”)

Smee 1841

Smee 1841

Smee 1841

Smee 1841

A later catalog listing for “Smee’s Galvanic Battery” from “Chemical Handicraft” presented by “John Joseph Griffin & Sons” in 1877:

Smee Battery 1877

Smee Battery 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/

Freedley 1856 pg.401

Freedley 1856 pg.401

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:

Rogers Brothers & Mead Backstamp

Rogers Brothers & Mead Backstamp

 This spoon (with an extremely rare mark) can be found at the James Douglas Gallery (listed on eBay) if you’re quick:

Rogers Brothers & Mead Spoon at James Douglas Gallery

Rogers Brothers & Mead Spoon at James Douglas Gallery

A couple of examples shown below indicate James Mead’s willingness, at least at first, to share.

Goodwin Advertisement 1842

Goodwin & Mead Advertisement 1842

Above from The Connecticut Historical Society.

Below 1843-44 shows that Goodwin is without Mead though still “Electro plating”:

Goodwin 1844

Goodwin 1844

Horace Goodwin

  • 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

Allyn Goodwin

  • 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.

1861-62 Hartford Directory

1861-62 Hartford Directory

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)

Sumner Smith

  • 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:

Woodward Mead 1849

Woodward Mead 1849

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. 

Mead & Sons Ad 1857

Mead & Sons Ad 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.

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This entry was posted in Ames Mfg., electroplating, Goodwin & Mead, Hartford Connecticut, John O. Mead, Nathan Ames, Nathan P. Ames, silver plate, silverplate, Smee battery and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Ames, Mead & Smee – The Beginnings of Silverplate in Hartford

  1. Pingback: William Hazen Rogers in Hartford 1820-1855 | queenofsienna

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