I came across a julep strainer in a design that I hadn’t seen before. Yet, it looked so familiar to me. It was marked “H. C. Reed Jr. & Co.” I hadn’t seen that mark before either.
The pattern was plain, no cut-out, no fancy design. Then it dawned on me. I had seen an image of this same plain julep strainer in the 1867 Meriden Britannia catalog.
The photo above shows the H. C. Reed Jr. & Co. strainer on the page from the 1867 Meriden Britannia catalog. They called it a “toddy strainer” in the catalog, said it was plated on Albata, and came in the Plain and Olive patterns.
But who was H. C. Reed Jr.? I found a reference book that stated he was Henry Carpenter Reed. Clearly, I needed to do more investigating.
I found mention of H. C. Reed Jr. & Co. in two 1865 publications. One was the Proceedings of the Board of Councilmen of the City of New York giving Mr. Reed permission to place a sign in front of his business at 13 Maiden Lane. The other was in a business directory.
The 1866 city directory shows J. C. Reed Jr. & Co. (Henry C. Reed Jr., along with William P. Fanning and Edward O. Carpenter). The December 8, 1866 New York Evening Express ran an ad for H. C. Reed Jr. & Co. indicating that he sold a line of Manhattan Plate Company items.
H. C. Reed Jr. & Co. was still listed in the 1867 business directory. But in 1868 a copartnership was formed…Hiram Young & Reed. They were manufacturers of silver plated ware under the trade mark “Manhattan Plate Company” and also importers of cutlery and fancy plated goods.
I could find no other reference to Henry C. Reed Jr. & Co. at this point.
The February 14, 1870 issue of the Watchmaker and Jeweler announced that the firm of Hiram Young & Reed was dissolved and Henry C. Reed Jr. would be continuing in business at 8 Maiden Lane. I found two other ads for H. C. Reed Jr. in 1870. Note that the name was just J. C. Reed Jr. (no longer & Co.)
I found a listing for H. C. Reed, Jr. in the 1872 Annual Report of the American Institute of the City of New York regarding the annual exhibition. And the last reference I obtained was in the 1872-74 New York State business directory.
What I deducted from this information was that H. C. Reed Jr. & Co. was only in business from 1865 through 1867…three years. He was affiliated with Hiram Young in 1868 and when that association terminated his company was called “H. C. Reed Jr.” The strainer has that H. C. Reed Jr. & Co. mark so the strainer dates to 1865, 1866 or 1867. And the same design strainer was in the 1867 Meriden Britannia catalog.
I believe this is the oldest julep strainer that I have come across. I have another old strainer in the “Grape” pattern which was patented by Egbert W. Sperry on April 30, 1867. This strainer is marked “Derby Silver Co.” This pattern was made by Redfield & Rice in the late 1860s. Edwin Brittin worked for Redfield & Rice and when they went out of business their machinery was brought to the newly formed Derby Silver Co. by Edwin Brittin in the early 1870s. This “Grape” pattern strainer might have been made with one of the Redfield & Rice moulds.
UPDATE: Since writing the above, I have come across another “Grape” pattern julep strainer marked “Curran & Co. A1”. J. F. Curran was in business since 1857, at least according to his following advertisement:
I have compiled a timeline on Curran & Co. for those of you who have interest:
I am uncertain if J. F. Curran actually manufactured this strainer. I suspect that Redfield & Rice might have made the strainer for Curran, which would date this strainer earlier than the Derby strainer. This Curran strainer is available for sale at my Etsy shop.
The Grape strainer is in the lower left corner of the photo below. The H. C. Reed Jr. & CO., Wm. Holmes and Olive pattern strainers are also pictured.
I also had (and sold) a Wm. Holmes strainer which was old; I estimated it conservatively to date around 1875. Wm. Holmes was from Baltimore and the strainer could have been made anytime between 1850 and 1876.
This H. C. Reed Jr. & Co. strainer as well as the Derby “Grape” strainers are available for sale at my Etsy shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/queenofsienna
And one final thing. I didn’t believe H. C. Reed Jr. is Henry Carpenter Reed at first. Henry Carpenter Reed’s father was Henry Crane Reed and since the middle names are not the same, Henry Carpenter Reed is not a Jr.! Yet the 1860 wedding announcement to Maria J. Wright states his name as Henry C. Reed Jr. I’m so confused…