This silver plated julep strainer has a backstamp of “R.S.P. Co.” This mark, which I don’t see that often, is a mark used by Rockford Silver Company for their “service ware” line, meaning restaurants, hotels, soda fountains and such.
I had seen this scrolled star pattern with various International Silver company backstamps (e.g. Wm. Rogers) but never before with a Rockford Silver Plate mark. There is also a similar star pattern (with little stars around the star cut-out) strainer that was manufactured by L. Boardman & Son. I’ve seen this Boardman design with a Budde & Westermann backstamp as well (possibly this strainer was made by Boardman for Budde & Westermann).
This julep strainer can be viewed here at my Etsy shop:
I had researched Rockford Silver Plate Company a while back with the intention of sharing that information on my blog…but other things got in the way and then it completely slipped my mind. Until now. Following is a nice little condensed version of the history of the Rockford Silver Plate Company which states that it was founded in 1875 under the title of the Racine Silver Plate Company. After a “disastrous” fire in 1882, the business was moved to Rockford, Illinois under the name Rockford Silver Plate Company.
The following 1879 article provides additional information concerning Racine Silver Plate Company, including officers.
The patent shown below was obtained by Frederick Waterhouse in March of 1882 (before the fire) and assigned to the Racine Silver Plate Company. I have seen flatware in this pattern with the Rockford Silver Plate backstamp, known as “Rockford Seven”. However, I have never seen this pattern with a Racine backstamp and don’t know if any flatware in this design was actually manufactured before the fire (or if made, destroyed in the fire).
Following is an illustration of the Rockford Silver Plate Co. factory circa 1890 (found at the Rockford Public Library site).
Below are three items related to George B. Kelley. First is from a 1891 “The Jewelers’ Circular and Horological Review”, Vol 23 Oct. 7 1891 pg40. To the right is an 1884 design patent from Mr. Kelley, and last is his 1899 resignation announcement.
Next is an interesting design patented by George B. Kelley and assigned to the Jewelers Crown Guild. We know that Mr. Kelley was an officer of the Rockford Silver Plate Company but what is the Jewelers Crown Guild?
In his patent specification, Mr. Kelley states that the design is composed of a crown and scrolls. Below the patent specification is a corporation listing showing the line item for the Jewelers Crown Guild. So it was an actual licensed corporation in the State of Illinois.
Jewelers Crown Guild is on both the 1902 & 1904 editions of the listing. Note that the President is Joseph C. Peers, a prominent Rockford jeweler, and Clara McFarland who is also a witness to the Crown Guild spoon patent above. This document also shows the Guild address as 202 S. Wyman Street, Rockford. This just happens to be the same address as Rockford Silver Plate Co. which was 202-206 S. Wyman St.
I have seen the above mark on pieces of Rockford Seven pattern flatware. Rockford Silver Plate sold their wares solely to jewelers. What exactly the relationship was between the Guild and Rockford, I can’t speculate. I do know that they were located at the same address and George Kelley, an officer of Rockford, patented a design assigned to the Guild.
Below is an excerpt from the biography of Michael Freeman included in the 1892 publication “Portrait and Biographical Album of Racine and Kenosha Counties, Wisconsin” pages 723 and 724. The important part of this and the next article is Lemuel Porter and his connection to not only Aurora Silver Plate but to Reed & Barton as well.
The next article concerns Edward Taylor who started out at Pairpoint Manufacturing.
Following are two patents designed by Frederick T. Love in 1898 and assigned to Rockford Silver Plate Co.
The next is a detail showing the expanded Rockford building at 202-206 S. Wyman St. This illustration was included in the 1911 issue of “The Printing Art”.
The 1908 ad shown below mentions Rockford is “selling only to retail jewelers direct”.
And the following 1910 advertisement features the “R.S.P. Co.” mark in relation to “silver plated service ware”.
“Fairoaks” is a 1909 design manufactured by Rockford. The following bent baby spoon (meaning the spoon is bent, not the baby) is available at my Etsy shop.
You can find it here: