I knew that Hall, Elton & Co. was a silverplate manufacturer located in Wallingford, Connecticut in the mid 1800s. I knew this because I had researched patents during this period of time and several handle design patents had been assigned to them. But now I had a couple of Oval Thread spoons with the backstamp “Hall & Elton” and I wanted to make certain that this “Hall & Elton” was the same “Hall, Elton & Co.” located in Wallingford.
To my surprise, I found that there was a German silver and coin silver manufacturer “Hall & Elton” located in Geneva, New York. Surely, there must be a connection. What are the chances that there are two Mssrs. Hall and Elton involved in the same business during roughly the same period of time?
Researching further, I found that there was absolutely no connection between the two companies. Who would have thought? The Geneva, New York manufacturer was formed by Abraham Bashara Hall and A. D. Elton in 1841 or thereabouts. And they used that backstamp “Hall & Elton”. The second paragraph below from the 1892 “History of New Haven County” mentions Jacob Hall and William Elton establishing Hall, Elton & Co. about 1836.
This is a photo of Hall, Elton & Co.’s “more commodious quarters on Cherry Street”:
Many people don’t credit Jacob Hall as one of the original founders of Hall, Elton & Co. in 1836. Instead they name Almer Hall, which is not the case according to the article cited above. It appears that there were many Halls located in Wallingford at this time….it was a very common name. The following year, 1837, Almer joined the company. I don’t know if he was related to Jacob. The article below from the 1870 “History of Wallingford, Connecticut” gives a little background on Almer and provides an interesting story of visiting New York and being given seven pounds of German silver. Note that there is no mention of Jacob…it states that Almer formed a co-partnership with William Elton in 1837 and called the firm Hall, Elton & Co.
And this is an illustration of Almer from that same 1870 publication:
The 1892 article shown at the beginning of this post mentioned Robert Wallace joining Hall, Elton & Co. about the same time as Almer, in 1837. The following account is from the 1879 “New England Manufacturers and Manufactories”. You’ll note that toward the bottom of this article it mentions that Wallace began making spoons for Almer Hall in 1834, probably experimenting and perfecting the process. He joined Hall, Elton & Co. about 1837 and stayed with them until 1854.
The more research I did on Hall, Elton & Co., the more confused I got. Noel Turner’s book, “American Silver Flatware”, gives the dates for Hall, Elton & Co. as 1837-1852, and further states that it was succeeded by Meriden Britannia and later International Silver. And yet others state that Hall, Elton & Co. was purchased by Maltby, Stevens, Curtiss and Watrous Mfg. Co. was their successor. Watrous was one of the original companies that became International Silver. If either of these two trains of thought was correct, if Hall, Elton & Co. was acquired by either Meriden Britannia or Maltby, Stevens, Curtiss, they would have ended up within International Silver. But, according to my research, neither scenario is accurate, although Hall, Elton & Co. did finally become consolidated with International. The following information helps supports my belief. Trying to present this in chronoligical order, I’ll touch on their relationship with Scovill Manufacturing first:
The earliest directory listing I could find for Hall, Elton & Co. was 1849 in the New England Mercantile Union Business Directory. At this point there was no mention of Scoville. In 1851, however, Scoville Manufacturing is listed as “agents for Hall, Elton & Co.’s celebrated German Silver and Plated Ware.” The 1859 New York City Directory states that Hall, Elton & Co.’s office is with Scoville Manufacturing Co., 36 Park Row and 4 Beekman Street.
As the ads above show, Hall, Elton’s New York address continues to be 36 Park Row, the Scoville address, through 1869.
And although Scoville isn’t specifically mentioned in the directories and ads from the early 1870s, their New York address remained 36 Park Row during that period of time. Of interest, shown above is an entry from the 1874 Trow City Directory which lists Charles Benedict as President of Hall, Elton & Co. This brings us to Benedict & Burnham’s relationship with Hall, Elton & Co.
The first article at the very beginning of this post states that Hall, Elton & Co. became a corporate entity in 1850 (February 14, 1850 to be exact). Benedict & Burnham became the majority stockholder in Hall, Elton & Co. probably around the same time that Charles Benedict became President of Hall, Elton in the mid 1870’s. After the deaths of Mssrs. Benedict and Burnham, the above article states that Charles Dickinson became President of Benedict & Burnham as well as Hall, Elton & Co until 1888. The 1876 New York City Directory shows a new address for Hall, Elton & Co. at 75 Chambers Street and the directories shown below indicate that they remained at this address through at least 1884.
From 1878 to 1882 Hall, Elton & Co. advertised four silver plated designs. Of interest is the “Niagara” design which is shown as “Patented” in the ad above. I have not been able to locate a patent for this design. And this 1882 ad appears to signal the end of any further manufacturer of new silver plate patterns. And this just so happens to coincide with Meriden Britannia’s lease of their building which is mentioned in the first article of this post which states “In 1882 the company leased its quarters, for ten years, to the Meriden Britannia Company, but mainains its organization.” Meriden Britannia did not acquire Hall, Elton & Co., they simply leased its buildings.
The article above states that in 1883 Maltby & Stevens subleased the Hall, Elton & Co. buildings from Meriden Britannia. Also note that the last paragraph of this article mentions that there was a “lower Hall, Elton & Co. factory” built about 1857 by a company, having among its members Almer I. Hall (Almer’s son), Jacob Hall and others, for the manufacture of cutlery. This article also states that the “business did not prove very successful.” This building was occupied in 1866 by the Albata Plate Company for a short time.
The May 5, 1896 issue of “The Morning Record” article above states that the Maltby, Stevens, Curtiss company, located here (Wallingford) about fourteen years ago, in the plant owned and now occupied by Hall, Elton & Co., had purchased the Oneida community company’s factory five years prior. So Maltby, Stevens, Curtiss only relationship with Hall, Elton & Co. was that it occupied their buildings under a sub lease from Meriden Britannia. That was it. And Hall, Elton & Co. seemed to be back occupying their own buildings in 1896.
As shown below, Hall, Elton & Co.’s ads for the period 1888 to 1898 are for German silver only, not plated wares. And what is interesting is that the top of the advertisements read “Hall & Elton’s German Silver” (got that…Hall & Elton) in bold print while “Hall, Elton & Co.” is shown in smaller print toward the bottom of the ad. Most likely their German silver spoons were also marked “Hall & Elton”.
You’ll also notice that some of the directories above show their New York address as 46 East 14th Street. Coincidentally, that was also the New York address of Meriden Britannia who was leasing their buildings back in Wallingford.
The Jewelers Circular January 1900 article above states that Benedict & Burnham’s controlling shares of Hall, Elton & Co. were sold to George C. Edwards, one of the officers of the International Silver Co. The article goes on to say that the purchase was a private purchase by Mr. Edwards (not on behalf of International Silver) and it was not known if it would be turned over to International Silver later on.
In the 1901 Polk’s (Trow’s) New York Directory shown above it states that Hall, Elton & Co. was “(consolidated with International Silver Co.)”. So, the end of this story is that Hall, Elton & Co. ended up being one of the International Silver Companies. But that didn’t come about through Meriden Britannia or Maltby, Stevens. It came about through a private purchase made by George C. Edwards from Benedict & Burnham not Meriden Britannia. You’ll see in the 1907 List of Corporations that they were still in business at that time.
I started this research because I was interested in the “Hall & Elton” mark on the back of my spoons. It appears that the majority (if not all) of Hall, Elton & Co.’s flatware is marked “Hall & Elton”; their hollowware appears to be marked “Hall, Elton & Co.”