The Holmes & Edwards Silver Company

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.

The Holmes & Edwards Co. Illustration from 1893 Hurd Atlas

The Holmes & Edwards Silver Co. Illustration from 1893 Hurd Atlas

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:

https://queenofsienna.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/edwin-brittins-squirrel/

2 Jewelers Circular Weekly Feb 5 1919 pg425

This 1881-82 Boyd’s Business Directory of Fairfield County includes a listing for Rogers & Brittin:

1881-1882 Boyds Fairfield County

1881-1882 Boyds Business Directory Fairfield County

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:

https://queenofsienna.wordpress.com/table-wares/

Jewelers Circular Article January 30, 1895, Vol. 29

Jewelers Circular Article January 30, 1895, Vol. 29

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:

William Warner Patent No. 309,013, December 9, 1884

W. A. Warner Patent No. 309,013, December 9, 1884

Patent 309,313 Specifications

Patent 309,313 Specifications

And this later one:

W. A. Warner Patent No. 337,099 Dated March 2, 1886

W. A. Warner Patent No. 337,099 Dated March 2, 1886

Patent 337,099 Specifications

Patent 337,099 Specifications

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.

Advertisement from 1889 Iron Age Magazine, Vol. 43

Advertisement from 1889 Iron Age Magazine, Vol. 43

In 1890, advertising began for the “sterling silver inlaid” line:

Ad from 1890 Scribners Magazine, Vol. 7

Ad from 1890 Scribners Magazine, Vol. 7

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.

1891 Iron Age, Volume 48, Issue 1

1891 Iron Age, Volume 48, Issue 1

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:

1892 February Ladies Home Journal Ad

1892 February Ladies Home Journal Ad

To read more on orange spoons, please click on the following:

https://queenofsienna.wordpress.com/2012/08/20/the-eating-of-the-orange/

An October 1892 Holmes & Edwards ad:

October 1892 Ladies Home Journal Ad

October 1892 Ladies Home Journal 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.”

1892-pen-sunlight-sketches-of-st-louis.

1892 Pen & Sunlight Sketches Of St. Louis

“Sterling Silver Inlaid” advertising really took off in 1893.  Notice that the following ad mentions that they are guaranteed for 25 years:

1893 Holmes & Edwards Ad

1893 Holmes & Edwards Ad

An example of 1894 advertising:

1894 Good Housekeeping, Volume 19

1894 Good Housekeeping, Volume 19

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”.

1894-holmesedwards-rialto-steamships1

January 1894 The Jewelers Circular & Horological Review

In 1894, there was considerable advertising of “sterling silver inlaid” even in cookbooks:

1894-kings-highway-cook-book

1894 King’s Highway Cookbook

An example of a Holmes & Edwards 1894 Christmas ad:

1894 The Review of Reviews Vol. 101

1894 The Review of Reviews Vol. 101

An example of 1895 advertising:

February 1895 New Outlook Vol. 51

February 1895 New Outlook Vol. 51

This June 1895 ad mentions “sterling silver inlaid” but it also mentions “XIV” or “Extra Sectional” quality plate:

June 1895 New Outlook, Vol 51

June 1895 New Outlook, Vol 51

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:

1896 McClure's

1896 McClure’s

In 1898, The Holmes & Edwards Silver Company became one the companies that composed the newly formed International Silver Company.

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This entry was posted in Derby Silver Co, Durham Silver Metal, E L Brittin, Edwin Brittin, gold aluminum, holmes & edwards, orange spoon, Rogers & Brittin, sterling silver inlaid and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to The Holmes & Edwards Silver Company

  1. KerryCan says:

    I never knew of this manufacturing technique!

  2. Holmes & Edwards inlaid silver, in silverplate, is of enduring quality and beauty. Their 1910 Washington pattern is becoming more increasingly difficult to find. It is a classic, in my humble opinion. I don’t know if it was named for the man or the city, but bears the structure, beauty, and dignity of both.

  3. janet w says:

    My aunt just left me an entire set of Holmes and Edwards Youth pattern 1940 – I’m so happy to have it and to read about it -thank you

  4. Priscilla Gimple says:

    when did the IS appear on Homes & Edwards silverware patterns. Am trying to identify and date my set.

    • queenofsienna says:

      Holmes & Edwards was one of the original companies that joined together in 1898 to form International Silver, so the IS mark appeared no earlier than 1898. If your pattern predates 1898 (see sterlingflatwarefashions.com for a good pattern search), that IS mark could still appear so it is difficult to date when a particular piece was made.

  5. John Valadez says:

    Hi is it possible to date a piece or pattern from a picture?

  6. Louise Avellino says:

    I have the Holmes and Edwards flatware purchased 1950 in the Romance pattern. Wondering its worth. Thank you

  7. Susan says:

    Thank you for this wonderful article! And all the old-timey ads. I wonder how you found them. I’m researching a set of silverware I purchased recently—the YOUTH pattern. I renamed it for myself “IN MY YOUTH” because I have always wanted a set of real silverware—-even if it is silver plate, ever since I was young and purchased a set on sale at Macy’s. That was over 40 years ago and my husband immediately made me take it back. So I finally got my silverware that I have wanted ever since I was in my youth. When I bought it on ebay I had no idea of the pattern name and it took awhile to figure that out. Now I’m all enamored with this company and the Sterling Silver Inlay!

    • queenofsienna says:

      I am delighted you finally got your silverware! Thank you for your comments.

    • Katherine Hayward says:

      Susan… I recently acquired a waiter’s coffee/tea set in the Youth pattern that I will be putting up for sale. Would you be interested in it?

      • queenofsienna says:

        Thank you for asking but I’m trying to downsize and am not in the market to buy. Best wishes.

  8. Sharon says:

    Wow! You provide a LOT of details! I have my beloved grandmother’s almost full set of, I think, “Lovely Lady”, with the original storage box. I can’t toss it, but I don’t need it! What do I do? (And – my grandmother was so poor, during the Depression in Chicago, I cannot figure out how she got a set of these – maybe a gift? (Any idea how much this was in the ’30’s?) Thank you!

    • queenofsienna says:

      Sharon, in Davis & Deibel’s book “Silver Plated Flatware Patterns, they show a November 1939 ad from the Woman’s Home Companion magazine and Lovely Lady is one of the featured patterns. They offer a 60 piece service for eight at $59.75 in the ad.

      I hope you can find a good home for your set…I’m sure there is someone who will treasure it and use it!

  9. Traci Williams says:

    how do you find how much it is worth

    • queenofsienna says:

      You could look at the completed items of your pattern on eBay which would tell you how much of your pattern is out there, how much interest is in it and what the going price is. You could also look at Replacements.com. Holmes & Edwards patterns would be found under International Silver.

  10. Bobbie Jo DeBellefeuille says:

    Hello Ma’am,
    I have several Holmes & Edwards’ spoons and am trying to identify a certain one with a shape I have not seen even in their old catalogs. I did find out its a NAPOLEON. However they do not have a 925 or any other such marking stating that they are silver and in my research before 1906 that wasn’t really unusual but my question is what was this spoon used for? A sugar spoon or a berry spoon or maybe a dessert spoon? It has a long slender handle that is 6″ long. The bottom of the handle has an arrow design on it that is facing the top(mouth) of the spoon. The mouth of the spoon is not round or oval. I can only describe it as square with round corners. Any info you may have may be helpful. Thanks for your time. My email is bobbiejoandjerry@gmail.com

    • queenofsienna says:

      Hi, I just sent you an email with an attachment.

    • Bobbie Jo, You may have a “citrus spoon” or “grapefruit spoon” — I am wondering if the outside lower edges roll up to almost a point? I have a set of these, and treasure them. I may be wrong, but I think Holmes & Edwards made only silverplate. They also bought the patent (I am thinking off the top of my 83-year old head here) from the first man to develop the process. During the Great Depression, when I was raised, women would get silverplate and other goodies in boxes of soap.
      That is also when Depression Glass came into vogue. Speaking of that, I have a set of 20 place settings of Holmes & Edwards “Century” silverplate with the Viande or Grill Forks. Most of what I know about this company I found right here on this wonderful woman’s site!!!

  11. Garrett D. Anderson says:

    I HAVE THE LAST SPOON FROM MY FAMILY’S SILVERWARE SET WITH THE ENGLISH LETTER “A” FOR ANDERSON. PROBABLY BOUGHT IN THE EARLY 40’S TO EARLY 50″S?

  12. Sandra Winters says:

    I have a set of Lovely Lady 1937 that was my mothers. It is in a wooden box marked 500 on the bottom. The inside of the box is lined with blue felt/fabric. There is a sticker on the inside of the box bottom that says ‘Tarnish resistant”. Do you know when this might have been manufactured?
    Was Lovely Lady manufactured for several years? or just in 1937?

    • queenofsienna says:

      Hello. I believe Lovely Lady was manufactured from 1937 to 1959 at which time it was discontinued. The box most likely was made during this same period of time.

  13. Pam says:

    I just purchase a set of Holmes & Edwards super plate – inlaid utensils at a fundraiser household sale. The pattern appears to be the century pattern and a number of the large spoons have a C on the handle. The first thing I did when I got home was to throw them in the dishwasher. I’ve been told that I shouldn’t do this as they would become badly pitted if they are silver. Any idea if these are in fact silver and should I look to only hand wash these?

    • queenofsienna says:

      Your Century pattern utensils are silver plated. It is recommended by professionals that sterling and silverplate items be hand washed as the dishwasher could damage and leave spotting and discoloration on Silverplate.

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