Ever on the lookout for antique bar tools for my Etsy shop, I came across a julep strainer with a backstamp with which I was unfamiliar. The stamp read “H. Filley & Sons 2”. I’m always intrigued by rare hallmarks…it gives me a chance to research. And how I love to research (and learn). So the hunt was on for H. Filley & Sons.
Following is a photo of the mark on the strainer. What was also unusual was the star shape cut-out on the handle. A star cut-out is relatively common on julep strainers, but this one had rounded points and the inside of the cut-out had almost a scallop shape, like little jags, to it. I had never seen anything quite like it.
As it turns out, I had come across H. Filley a while back when I was researching John O. Mead. In my post “Ames, Mead & Smee – The Beginnings of Silverplate in Hartford”, I had included a section from the 1859 edition of “Philadelphia and Its Manufactuers” by Edwin T. Freedley. Later in this post I have included the same parapgraph from Freedley’s 1867 edition of the same book.
As in most of my posts, I like to keep track of some of the information that I find for future reference. In this post, I have simply listed items of interest in chronological order.
So from the above, we learn that Harvey was first working with tin, and then became associated with John O. Mead manufacturing nickel silver ware. And the following article shows that he was part owner of a silver mine, the Pequea mine, near Lancaster, PA. And in 1855 the estimated value of the mine was over one million dollars! Harvey must have been quite a guy….
The following shows that Harvey opened a silverplate establishment next to the tin shop at 436 Market Street. Also note that in 1858 he has a new address, 1222 Market Street.
And here’s the Freedley references:
So from the above, we see in 1863 it’s Harvey Filley listed alone and below in 1867 the business now becomes Harvey Filley & Sons. I’ve also seen another government document that records the business as Harvey Filley & Sons in 1865.
The above ad includes quite a listing of nickel silver and silver plated items manufactured by Harvey Filley & Sons. I’m almost surprised not to see barware included in this listing. Following is a photo of the H. Filley and Sons julep strainer. It could well be nickel silver and not silver plated. The star cut-out is not mass produced. It has the feel of being earlier than most.
Harvey Filley & Sons is still at 1222 Market Street in the 1870s.
Harvey Filley died in 1877 and the following shows that his sons continued in the silverplate business for a while.
On Christmas Day, 1881, Harvey Filley & Sons had a fire:
The sons have moved to 13th Street and later to 11th Street and it seems that after 1890 their interests were more in aluminum plating. You will see they had a business called Harvey Filley Plating Works and then Harvey Filley Aluminum Plating Co.
Apparently, they were known for perfecting the aluminum plating process which is mentioned in more than one article. Below is a poor copy of one, from the 1890 “The Manufacturer and Builder” Vol. 22 pg102
The julep strainer sits very nicely atop a glass. This strainer can be found here at my Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/listing/249294811/h-filley-sons-silver-plated-star-julep
Harvey Filley was well known, perhaps best known, for his beautiful tin work. If I remember correctly, his colors had an Amish flavor, as does the star in this julep strainer.
An excellent resource book regarding the Filley Family is “The Filleys: 350 Years of American Entrepreneurial Spirit” by Donald Southerton.