You might be familiar with the company known as Bernard Rice’s Sons. They are well known for cocktail shakers bearing their mark (sometimes accompanied by the Apollo mark) during the 1920s and 1930s. But little hard documentation can be found about their history. Some reference has been made that this company is somehow related to or succeeded Redfield & Rice, a company that went out of business in the early 1870s. I could find no connection or link between Redfield & Rice (James Rice) and Bernard Rice’s Sons (Jacques and Louis Rice). Let me share with you what I did find.
It really all started with Ignatius Rice (1838 – 1910), Bernard’s brother and Jacques and Louis’ uncle. New York City directories show that Ignatius was in business with an gentlemen by the name of Gustavus Oberndorf in the mid 1860s. Rice & Oberndorf were manufacturers of and agents for various items such as pocketbooks, combs, brushes, perfumes and notions. In 1866 Ignatius obtained a patent for a comb design and that same year he was assignor to another comb design patent.
Following are snippets of directories and patents from 1864 to 1884:
The 1867 – 68 Trow’s New York City Directory shows that Ignatius went into business with his brother Bernard (1836 – 1896). The following article comes from an 1884 publication “New York’s Great Industries”:
The two brothers continued in business until 1891, the year that Bernard went into business with his eldest son, Jacques ( 1869 – 1935 ). The business was known as Bernard Rice & Son.
The above notice from the January 28, 1891 New York Herald also mentions that Ignatius went into business with William Rice Hochster manufacturing tortoise shell, celluloid, rubber and horn novelties. Their firm was call Rice & Hochster.
Bernard Rice died in 1896. Bernard Rice & Son was succeeded by Bernard Rice’s Sons in 1897 with brothers Jacques and Louis ( 1872 -1933 ) at the helm. The 1901 Trow’s Directory lists Apollo Silver Co. (registered trade name) as belonging to Jacques B. and Louis W. Rice. The April 10, 1906 Official Gazette of the United States Patent Office shows the trademark as a “fleur-de-lis inclosed (sic) in concentric circles, with the words “Apollo Silver Co.” between the circles granted to Bernard Rice’s Sons.
I have seen speculation that Apollo Silver Co. existed prior to Bernard Rice’s Sons involvement but I could find no evidence of that.
Jacques and Louis also originated “Riceszinn” a pure non-tarnishable metal of secret composition! The following is from a 1902 publication, Geyer’s Stationer:
And this is an ad from a 1902 Jewelers’ Circular:
Some beautiful items were made combining Riceszinn and iridescent art glass. I don’t think many are aware of the connection between Bernard Rice’s Sons and Riceszinn.
Following is a chronological listing of information from directories and publications from 1889 through 1909:
Bernard Rice’s Sons continued in business into the mid 20th century. Quite a successful run for a company with roots that began almost one hundred years earlier.
I intend to write a separate blog post on Bernard Rice’s Sons cocktail shakers.