Interesting, Unusual and Possibly Rare…..
I was recently researching a pattern for a silver plate fork manufactured by Holmes & Edwards. I determined the pattern was the 1894 “Rialto” pattern designed by Sidney Smith (Design Patent No. 23,163 issued April 3, 1894). This pattern had several various backstamps including: Associated Silver Co. / Yourex, Aurora Silver Plate Mfg. Co., B.S. Co., Liquid Carbonic Corp., Reliance Mfg. Co., E. G. Webster & Son and Holmes & Edwards. I have to admit that I was unfamiliar with the majority of these companies. This information was contained on a marvelous website www.sterlingflatwarefashions.com.
The next step was to research the availability and pricing of this pattern on the internet in order to project an offered price at my Etsy shop. What I discovered was that there were some “Rialto” patterns out there that had a golden hue and were marked “Waldo HE”. The majority of the people who had listed these golden hue “Rialto” pieces referred to them as being gold plated or gilt. I knew that Holmes & Edwards also used an “HE” mark, so these pieces must have been manufactured by Holmes & Edwards but what was “Waldo”?
The Holmes & Edwards Silver Co. was founded in 1882 by George C. Edwards and Israel Holmes and operated out of Bridgeport, CT (and became part of International Silver in 1898). What was the connection between Holmes & Edwards and Waldo?
Well, the search started….and Google Books proved to contain a wealth of information:
1893: The Waldo Foundry was also located in Bridgeport, Connecticut at the same time Holmes & Edwards was in operation there. The following comes from “The New England States,” Vol. 2, 1897, author William Thomas Davis states that The Waldo Foundry, Railroad Avenue, West End, Bridgeport, Conn. organized in 1893 with a capitol of $50,000; President J. A. Bush, NY, Treasure A. G. VanCleve, NY and Secretary Leonard Waldo, Bridgeport.
1893: A series of patents were filed by Dr. Leonard Waldo of Bridgeport, Conn. And Frank A. Gooch of New Haven, Conn. Regarding the “Process of Reducing Aluminum”. Perhaps the earliest being patent No. 527,849.
February 1894: Dr. Leonard Waldo actually handed out souvenir spoons at the following meeting in Virginia Beach… Taken from “Transactions of the America Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers, Volume 24”:
“Aluminum-Bronze” by Leonard Waldo, Bridgeport, Conn. (Virginia Beach Meeting, February, 1894).
“Probably some of the views advanced in this paper will appear from a metallurgical standpoint, little less than revolutionary. It is with considerable hesitancy that I venture to offer a few thoughts concerning what seems to me to be perhaps the most important development of metallurgy since the introduction of Bessemer steel.
Dr. John Perey, with that rare insight which characterizes the epoch-making man, described in a communication to the Royal Society, about 1855, an alloy of aluminum and copper which he called aluminum-bronze. The name has “stuck.” The term “bronze” has been so variously used that I confess I do not know exactly what constitutes a bronze; but I know that in the great materials of engineering simplicity of composition is a cardinal excellence and I wish to venture the suggestion that aluminum-bronze is not an alloy of aluminum and copper in any such sense as the compounds of tine and zinc with copper (except the copper-tin compound SnCU3) are alloys. There are several reasons which lead me to this view…..There are reasons for supposing that the basal combination which is formed would correspond to the formula AlCu4. That is what is commonly called ten percent bronze. My belief is that it is an aluminide of copper and that its solution in copper gives us the various qualities of aluminum-bronze. The little specimens in the form of souvenir spoons distributed at this meeting represent this formula diluted with an equal amount of copper. To remedy some of the existing confusion in regard to the alloys of aluminum and copper (I use that word alloy with reservation, and only because this is the common nomenclature) I venture to propose that we consider this AlCu4 as aluminum-bronze; that when it is diluted with an equal amount of copper we call it one-half aluminum-bronze; and so on to one-quarter bronze, etc.”
1894: Johnston’s Electrical and Street Railway Directory: The Waldo Foundry Co., Bridgeport, Conn. Is listed under “Castings, Aluminum and Manganese Bronze, Mfg. of”
October, 1894: Although Waldo’s aluminum-bronze was formed by combining aluminum and copper (no gold), “The Aluminum World” states: “ ‘Gold aluminum’ is one of the latest aluminum alloys that has been put upon the market. The alloy resembles gold in color, and is being worked into spoons, forks, etc. It is claimed that it is easily cleaned, and retains its polish with much less care than sterling silver. The Holmes & Edwards Silver Co. of Bridgeport, Conn., is now making some beautiful tableware in “gold aluminum,” which sells at sights thoughout the country. The Waldo Foundry of the same city produces the metal.”
December 12, 1894: From “The Jewelers’ Circular”: Aluminum – Gold Knives, Forks, Spoons, Flat and Table Ware. The Waldo Foundry, Bridgeport, Conn. Trademark 23,308, filed for October 29, 1894 and issued December 4, 1894. Essential features: The representation of a griffin’s head erased and the word “W A L D O”. Used since Sept. 1, 1894.
October 1896: From “The Aluminum World”: Article entitled “New Work in Bronze” references the Waldo Foundry Co.’s tests in tensile strength and crystallization.
March, 1902: From “The Foundry, A Trade Journal”: “The Waldo Foundry, Bridgeport, Co., have disposed of their stock and fixtures and are no longer engaged in the foundry business.” Note: I question this 1902 date as I have also found an obituary reference in “Brass World” to Edwin Starr Sperry, who was Superintendant at The Waldo Foundry until 1905 (Mr. Sperrry died in January 1914).
Dr. Waldo’s obituary January 26., 1929: http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1144&dat=19290126&id=eUsbAAAAIBAJ&sjid=AUsEAAAAIBAJ&pg=2827,4787177
I am not aware of any other company other than Holmes & Edwards manufacturing flatware using The Waldo Foundry “aluminum-bronze”. Following is a photo of the marks on the back of one of the spoons.
The “Pat. 90” mark on the back of the bowl relates to the patent for the shape of the bowl (designed to eat oranges) obtained in 1890 by George Clark Edwards, of Holmes & Edwards. See the following:
This certainly has been an interesting journey…I will update if I discover more.
Update September 2, 2012:
I did discover more… Waldo HE flatware was given as a premium with grocery purchases. Don’t know the year or the grocer.
Will continue to update as necessary.