I know I’ve said this before and I’m going to say it again. I don’t know how I manage to come across so many pieces of silverplate with backstamps of unknown, or relatively unknown, manufacturers. I had two silverplate bar spoons that were marked “Yale Silver Co. A1”. After considerable research, I listed them for sale in my Etsy shop and included this in the description:
“The Yale Silver Co. mark is rare. From my limited research I am speculating that the Yale Silver Company is a brand of or made by Simpson, Hall, Miller & Company. Early in the 19th Century Hiram Yale had a business that Samuel Simpson apprenticed at for 15 years. Charles D. Yale was part owner and treasurer of Simpson Hall Miller & Co. His sons are listed in Berly’s Universal Electrical Directory of 1884, C. B. and G. S. Yale are listed as electroplaters at 36 E. 14th Street, New York. G. Selden Yale and his brother Charles B. Yale took position with Simpson Hall Miller in 1869 and remained employed there for 16 years. Selden was the manager of Simpson Hall Miller’s New York Office which just happened to be 36 E. 14th Street. Another coincidental tidbit of information is that both Simpson Hall Miller and Yale used a circular mark and the term quadruple plate on their holloware.”
Then I came across another piece of flatware with the same “Yale Silver Co.” mark. It also had a twist handle but was long, very long…12 inches long to be exact. It had what looked like a pierced ladle at the end. What was it used for? Perhaps it was an olive ladle (is there such a thing?). In any case, this is what I said when I included it in the bar spoon listing:
“The olive ladle is 12 inches long and is in the “Sultana” or “Shell” pattern. I am not certain if this is actually an olive ladle….strainer…spoon…or what. It is an unusual shape, that’s for sure. I could find nothing similar in Noel Turner’s “American Silver Flatware”. I could see it being used in a large, deep olive jar to scoop out olives and drain the brine at the same time. Note that this ladle is double stamped with the Yale mark.”
These bar spoons and olive ladle can be found here at my Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/listing/155467844/yale-silver-co-silver-plated-twist
I thought that my Yale Silver Co. connection was just those twist handle items and no further research was necessary. I surmised that Simpson, Hall, Miller made these barware related items for the Yales or used this name as a limited brand of their own.
I came across another Yale mark on a demitasse spoon listed for sale; the pattern is the first one on the left in the photo below. There was no information regarding the mark in the listing. It was an interesting to learn that another “Yale” item existed but it was not my demitasse spoon and I was not about to begin to start researching it.
And then I came across the ‘child’s head’ flatware shown below (last three items with each being a tiny bit different in detail). These are part of a child’s set. No barware connection here. Now I knew I would have to spend a little more time researching the Yale Silver Co.
The child’s set came in a box that has a label on the end as follows:
Simpson, Hall, Miller had a “Cupid” pattern and this Yale pattern is not the same. So, if “Yale Silver” was a brand name of Simpson, Hall, Miller, it was highly unlikely that they would have had two separate “Cupid” patterns. What confused me even further, was that the box indicates that the set was “plated on nickel silver”. The spoon and fork had considerable wear and plate loss and the base metal is a golden color, an indication that the base metal was more brass like. Was this flatware actually original to this box? This child’s set and box are listed for sale here at my Etsy shop:
I also have a fork in this “Cupid” pattern which is in very good condition:
The Yale family has a long and prestigious history in the State of Connecticut. You have heard of Yale University, haven’t you? But we’re searching the family that was involved in Britannia and tin ware. Samuel Yale was making pewter buttons in the late 1700s. His sons, Charles and Hiram, were manufacturing pewter and Britannia ware in the early 1800s. They purchased water-power known as Tyler’s Mills, erected a new and substantial dam across the stream and added buildings. This area of Wallingford, Connecticut became known as Yalesville.
Charles Yale had a son, Charles D. Yale who became treasurer of Simpson, Hall, Miller. The following article from “The History of New Haven County” provides an overview of Charles D. Yale’s life and accomplishments:
Charles D. died in 1890. It is possible that he formed the Yale Silver Co., as I estimate my collection of flatware to have been manufactured somewhere around 1885. Yet, if he did form this company, there is no mention of it in the article above, or for that matter any other that I could find. Perhaps it was his sons, Charles Benjamin and George Selden, who were involved somehow with the Yale Silver Co.
The following is an article about Charles Benjamin Yale (again, no mention of Yale Silver Co.):
Charles B. was named as a co-inventor in an 1884 patent for “Table Caster or Other Articles of Table Service” assigned to Simpson, Hall, Miller & Co.:
The following is G. Selden’s obituary (the newspaper had his name wrong, calling him Selden G. instead of G. Selden). But, again, no mention of Yale Silver Co.
During the second half of the 19th Century, the Yales (Charles D., Charles B. and G. Selden) were listed in various directories (predominantly Trowe’s) with various addresses in New York City. I’ve compiled a chronological listing of those addresses below.
In some of these directory listings, the Yale’s are shown as affiliated with Simpson, Hall, Miller. In other of the listings they simply show “silverware” after their name. Please note in the 1881 listing there seems to be an indication that they have finally settled on a business name. “C. B. & G. S. Yale” (also repeated in the1884″Berly’s) Before this it seems there is the suggestion of others. (see 1878 Yale, Bradford & Brother in the above listing). On the important site http://freepages.geneology.rootsweb.ancestry.com it states that the sons “neglected the business (meaning Simpson, Hall, Miller) in favor of establishing their own jewelry company.” Maybe the sons had some flatware manufactured with the “Yale Silver Co.” mark to sell in their jewelry business?
But maybe it goes back to their father, Charles D., who was close friends and business partner with Samuel Simpson. Maybe Samuel Simpson had some pieces made with the Yale backstamp for his friend. A celebration of Mr. Simpson’s 50th year in business was held in 1885. Maybe Mr. Simpson presented these pieces to Charles D. at that time as a tribute to their friendship.
Another guess is that upon C.B.& G.S. Yales’ retirement from Simpson Hall Miller & Co. in 1886 some special arrangement was made with the company to have flatware stamped with the Yale Silver Co. mark.
In March of 1901 the Yale brothers went back to Richmond, Virginia and The Times of Richmond stated in an article that these gentlemen are “now interested in silverware manufacturing in New York…”
In December of 1901 The Times of Richmond ran an article about a lawsuit involving the Yale brothers and John Bowers, who had been a business partner of their father many years earlier. The suit involved the closing of an alley in Richmond. It appears C.B. and G.S had some business venture going with John Bowers but what sort of venture remains unknown.
In 1914 the American Machinist publication notes that the Yale brothers are receiving estimates for construction of a garage on State Street in New Haven, Connecticut.
And then again maybe the Yale Silver Co. has nothing whatsoever to do with Charles D., Charles B. or G. Selden Yale. The bottom line is, I have no clue as to the real truth behind the Yale Silver Co. If anyone reading this has information, I’d be delighted to hear from you!
And for those of you who think that I exaggerate when I say that I frequently come across silverplate with “mystery marks”, here’s another example:
These gorgeous forks are marked “Sterling Sil. Plt. Co.” They are for sale in my Etsy shop and following is part of my listing description:
“The pattern name is unknown to me. It is a marvelous example of aesthetic design with floral elements and butterfly.
“And the manufacturer is also unknown to me. Davis and Deibel, in their book “Silver Plated Flatware Patterns”, include this manufacturer and comment “Research failed to develop any information concerning this trade-mark.” They simply identify this pattern as “Sterling Silver Plate Four”. The Brooklyn Museum’s website indicates that Stering Silver Plate Co. was a mark of Holmes, Booth & Haydens. This could well be as this pattern does have some similarity to the different designs patented by Hiram Hayden. The butterfly in this design is somewhat similar to Hiram Hayden’s “Japanese”.”
They can be found here:
A yet another unsolved mystery.