The Holmes & Edwards Silver Company was organized in 1882, with headquarters in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The illustration below was taken from the 1893 Hurd Atlas and shows the company’s office and manufacturing facilities.
But the roots of Holmes & Edwards goes back to the Rogers & Brittin Silver Co. which was established in January of 1880. Edwin Brittin, one of the founders of Rogers & Brittin, died suddenly early in 1881. C. E. L. Holmes and George Edwards acquired Rogers & Brittin in 1892 and The Holmes & Edwards Silver Company was established in Bridgeport. To read more about Edwin Brittin, who also founded the Derby Silver Company, please click here:
This 1881-82 Boyd’s Business Directory of Fairfield County includes a listing for Rogers & Brittin:
In the 1895 Jewelers Circular article below, the “variety of wares” manufactured by the Holmes & Edwards Silver Co. is discussed. Among those discussed, are “sterling silver inlaid” spoons and forks as well as “Gold Aluminum” ware. To read more about the “Gold Aluminum” ware manufactured by Holmes & Edwards, please click here:
Noel Turner, in his book “American Silver Flatware” discusses how Holmes & Edwards acquired the William A. Warner patent for a process which became to be known as “sterling silver inlaid”. In part, it reads:
“….George Edwards, the president of the Holmes & Edwards Silver Company in Bridgeport, Connecticut, was reading an article in the Scientific American about a patent that had been granted to the Warner Brothers of Syracuse, New York. The August 20, 1887, issue carried a small-type item reading:
‘The invention herewith illustrated provides a method of manufacturing plated ware in which parts most exposed to wear are filled with precious metal or alloy, as for instance, the bottom of the bowl of a spoon or the back of the handle of a fork, these being the usual points of rest from which the plating on such articles generally wears off the quickest. In such goods, and all plated flatware of a similar kind, a recess is made at the points of rest, or places of greatest wear, and this recess in filled, in the process of manufacture, with fine or coin silver, or other metal used in plating, so that after the whole is plated, abrasions of these parts will not, as in the ordinary plated ware, expose the base metal or alloy of which the article is mainly composed. The illustration shows the method of inserting this silver filling in a standard type of silverplated tea spoon.’
“The following morning, Mr. Edwards dispatched a trusted employee to Syracuse, and, after receiving a favorable report on the operation in the small Warner shop, arranged for the purchase of the patents rights, securing, at the same time, the services of the inventor, William Warner. There were many technical difficulties to be overcome before the process was completely feasible for the commercial production, but by the time of the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1892-93, the company was awarded a gold medal for the greatest improvement in plated flatware in 100 years, and the Holmes & Edwards Sterling Inlay trademark had won new acclaim in the silver trade.”
The William A. Warner patents follow:
And this later one:
You will note that the following 1889 ad makes no mention of “sterling inlaid”. The advertisement was for “Durham Silver Metal” a silver colored alloy which Holmes & Edwards manufactured.
In 1890, advertising began for the “sterling silver inlaid” line:
And this 1891 ad is for Holmes & Edwards “Extra Sectional XIV Plate” which is what they were offering prior to acquiring the Warner patents. As mentioned in the Noel Turner book, there were “many technical difficulties” in the sterling silver inlaid process, and while they were working on ironing out those difficulties, Holmes & Edwards still actively advertised their other offerings.
By 1892, the kinks had been worked out, and serious advertising commenced on the “sterling silver inlaid” line. This orange spoon ad was one of the first:
To read more on orange spoons, please click on the following:
An October 1892 Holmes & Edwards ad:
Note that in the following 1892 ad, although “sterling silver inlaid” is prominantly featured, the other lines are also mentoned: “No. 67 Mexican Silver, No. 39 Durham Silver, Silver Metal, No. 50 Nickel Silver, H and E, and No. 24 German Silver Forks, Spoons, Etc.”
“Sterling Silver Inlaid” advertising really took off in 1893. Notice that the following ad mentions that they are guaranteed for 25 years:
An example of 1894 advertising:
And the following ad states that “The Holmes & Edwards Silver Co. are the largest manufacturers of silver table flatware in the country.” It also states that two new steamships, “St. Louis” and “St. Paul” are to be furnished with “Inlaid quality”.
In 1894, there was considerable advertising of “sterling silver inlaid” even in cookbooks:
An example of a Holmes & Edwards 1894 Christmas ad:
An example of 1895 advertising:
This June 1895 ad mentions “sterling silver inlaid” but it also mentions “XIV” or “Extra Sectional” quality plate:
What is interesting about this 1896 Holmes & Edwards ad is that it doesn’t mention “sterling silver inlaid” or any other of its lines. It doesn’t even mention patterns (although the pattern shown is “Rialto”). It features a bouillon spoon and offers a booklet about spoons and forks:
In 1898, The Holmes & Edwards Silver Company became one the companies that composed the newly formed International Silver Company.