Hartford Manufacturing Company is a bit of an enigma. In some popular and well respected books on the subject of American silverplate it is barely mentioned if, in fact, mentioned at all. And trying to find any history relating to the company and the principals involved is pretty much difficult to say the least. However, for those of you who have long awaited this information, here it is! In the last post I mentioned that the Rogers Brothers Manufacturing Co. had moved into a new factory building in 1851 at Trumbull & Hicks Streets in Hartford. A few years later, and in close proximity, we find the Hartford Manufacturing Company, having been incorporated Sept. 23 1854. In the detail from an 1877 map shown below, the two buildings are shown as (99) Rogers and (98) Hartford, 15 & 49 Trumbull St.
Hartford Mfg. and Rogers Bros. Mfg. listings are show below from a 1861-62 Hartford City Directory. Note: Asa Rogers is shown as living in Waterbury and associated with some firm by the name of J. McClester & Co.
Also cut from the 1861-62 Directory are J.H. Ashmead and Edmund Hurlburt, shown as treasurer and president of the Hartford Manufacturing Co. as well as “gold beaters”. In 1846 James Ashmead entered into partenership with Edmund Hurlburt, of Windsor, Conn., who had been a plater on Main St. in Hartford. This 1860 advertisement emphasizes their positions (at the bottom of the ad).
Next, are two brief histories on companies that Ashmead & Hurlburt were involved with taken from “Hartford Conn as a Manufacturing Business and Commercial Center”:
Below are listings for those referenced above. (From 1845-46 Geer’s Hartford Directory)
Of importance here is the Wm. B. Johnson address “No. 6 Exchange Buildings” the same location that we saw in the previous post for Wm.Rogers. Ashmead & Hurlburt were not only gold beaters but also involved in dental supply see 1847 ad below from “The United States Statistical Directory, Or, Merchants’ and Travellers”:
Of interest, Simeon Rogers married Ann Hurlburt in April 1840. Below in a later listing we see the Ashmead gold beating tradition continues (from 1875 Hartford City Directory)
In this 1857 Le Roy S. White patent it is assigned to Rogers(misspelled), Sperry, Ashmead & Hurlburt:
Were these gentlemen in the above patent those most involved with operating Hartford Mfg.? Simeon Smith Rogers, Egbert W. Sperry, James H. Ashmead, Edmund Hurlburt, and Henry Ephraim Robbins (Robbins was mentioned in the ad shown above). Robbins is listed in other patents as one of the assignees and an inventor in his own right (improvements for tobacco case). He is listed in the 1861-62 Hartford Directory as “sec’y Hfd. Manuf. Co.” The following on Le Roy S. White came from “History of Waterbury and the Naugatuck Valley Conn. 1918” pg.49a
Le Roy White’s 1867 patent 2551 lead to the famous Gorham lawsuit; see my blog post “Persian versus Jewell”. Le Roy White went to Waterbury with Asa & Simeon Rogers and David B.Hamilton in 1858 to establish Rogers & Brother there. The patent above shows that Simeon Smith Rogers was involved with Ashmead & Hurlburt as well as E. W. Sperry. It seems from the article below (from “Connecticut Reports” 1885) he had Hartford Mfg. produce spoons, forks and knives with a seemingly deceptive “Rogers” mark.
Flatware marked simply “Rogers A1” and made between 1856-1859 are probably on the rare side, but an interesting find. Also in patent no. 17475 (above) E.W Sperry is listed as one of the assignees. Egbert W. Sperry might have been an influential figure in the developement of silverware production as the article below indicates.
The next photo shows the “Threaded” pattern with the Sperry backstamp. Is this an example of one of the abovementioned patterns in Freedley’s book?
The following photograph shows a fork backstamped “E. W. Sperry”. This is the “Tuscan” pattern. One thing is for certain, this Sperry mark is very rare:
A kind reader was good enough to share photos of a fork in either the Tuscan or Brunswick pattern (not sure which) with the Hartford Mfg. Co. mark. See the following:
For more from Freedley’s book, see my blog post “Freedly 1856 Silver Plated Wares”. Included is a segment on Lewis Morgan who was also in Hartford. He was born Jan. 17 1817 in Wethersfield, Connecticut. It seems he was involved in the Hartford silver scene from the mid 1830’s through the late 1850’s. He is in the 1845 Geer’s as a silversmith at 281 Main St. He married Jeannette Pinney of Granby, on Christmas day 1845, which makes me think he was at Cowles in “Spoonville” with the rest of the plating gang. E.W. Sperry and his brothers Albert and William are noted as being in “Spoonville” at Cowles in the mid 1840’s. For more on the Cowles operation please see blog post “The Search for Spoonville”. Also worth a mention is that I believe Albert A. Sperry did some designs for Cephas Rogers & Bros. before cousin Arthur, for example the “Westminster” pattern of 1883 (please see blog post “Cephas Rogers & Brothers and Cousin Arthur”. In the 1861-62 Hartford Directory E.W.Sperry resides at 78 Maple Ave. in Hartford and is considered a “silversmith”. In 1867 Egbert W. Sperry was issued three design patents numbers 2641-43 (“design for a knife or fork handle”). He was living in Wolcottville, Conn. at the time. In newspaper accounts of the tragic death of Mr. Sperry’s son in a train accident, his former company is called both “Hartford Britannia Company” and “Hartford Britannia Works”. Next is a patent issued to Albert M. White in 1860. There is an Albert M. White listed in the 1861-62 directory as a machinist living at the American Hotel.
What is of importance here is “ROGERS & BROTHER OF WATERBURY, AND HARTFORD MANUFACTURING COMPANY, OF HARTFORD”. I have four silver plate forks in the “Olive” pattern manufactured by Hartford Manufacturing Company for sale at my Etsy shop. All four forks have the mark shown in the following photo:
In my listing I noted that these forks “predated the Civil War”. I’ve since learned that Rogers and Brothers and Hartford Manufacturing Company actually provided flatware for ironclad gunboats used during the Civil War. The USS Cairo, commissioned in January 1862, and her six identical sister vessels were built for the purpose of regaining control of the Mississippi River from the Confederacy. These City Class gunboats were all named for cities along the upper Mississippi and Ohio Rivers.
Myron J. Smith, author of “The USS Carondelet, A Civil War Ironclad on Western Waters” and Edwin C. Bearss, author of “Hardluck Ironclad: The Sinking and Salvage of the Cairo” both mentioned in their books that the officers on these ships ate on ironstone and used flatware manufactured by “Rogers and Brothers and Hartford Manufacturing Company”.
I’m thinking that Rogers and Brothers and Hartford Manufacturing Company most likely provided the flatware for all of these ships.
From the photo above (taken from the National Park Service USS Cairo Museum website) it’s hard to identify the pattern of the flatware shown. However, it could be the “Olive” pattern (shown in the photo below from my Etsy shop listing).
Following is the link to this listing at my shop: https://www.etsy.com/listing/62229547/4-silver-plate-forks-hartford-mfg-co What more can I say?